It’s All About Having a Purpose

This post is one of twelve that I am bringing forward from a blog that will disappear at some point in 2022. I have updated and cleaned up the writing in it. This post was originally a long essay and I have split it into two posts to make it easier to read. 

The past two years have not been what I or anyone else could have envisioned. Most days began to resemble the movie Groundhog’s Day — each day a repeat of the one before. 

Being retired, along with all the restrictions, and fears, while attempting to keep ourselves safe during this pandemic, made life into something no one expected. Even so, back in January I knew that changes were necessary to move beyond the Groundhog’s Day type of existence that 2021 had turned into.

All too often, when we stop and take a good look at what we are doing, we realize that change is needed. We just have to figure out…

  • What needs changing?
  • What is the purpose of making those changes?

Finding out the answers to those questions is a large part of the solution.

They are also the step that I skipped too many times in the past and yes, would skip again. My idea of changing things often tends to resemble what Range Instructors in the military call — “Ready, Shoot, Aim”.

Or the old “Look, do, then think about it”.

Starting the Process

Although once you have the purpose or goal(s), you have a better idea of the changes that will be necessary.

A photo of someone who once upon a time had a purpose
Photo from Osvil & Florence Elston Archives

For me I wanted to change the direction of my writing and more importantly stop living life like it had no purpose, other than to get to tomorrow.

I used changing to “Harold being Harold” as a way to kick-start the process. Moving my blog helped to get rid of the mental fog that had enveloped me for most of 2021. 

Reading David Allen’s update of “Getting Things Done” (I had read the original multiple times) was also a good start. While I was working on finishing that book, I went on a deep dive into Tiago Forte’s – world of Building a Second Brain. I liked Forte’s ideas/philosophy enough to pre-order his forthcoming book. 

I kept reading, researching, looking at different tools and developed some ideas to help me move forward. I even did my share of the “Ready, Shoot, Aim” planning that I tend to do.

The fun part was experimenting with multiple productivity tools, apps, or philosophies versus being focused on what I needed or the direction that I was going to go.

Yeah, I was all over the place.

Even doing all that and more, I felt as though something was missing. I was doing many of the same things that I had always done, but I was expecting different results.

It doesn’t work that way.

A Word of Kindness

We went in to do our taxes, our accountant, who had read my work in the past, asked, “when was I going to go back to writing professionally?” 

I hemmed and hawed, then cracked a couple of jokes. Her comment hit home and had me thinking about what I wanted to do with my writing. I started looking at the directions or possibilities that writing over the next 5 to 10 years could entail, not just tomorrow’s RunLog blog post or something that no one but me cared about. 

Which was something I hadn’t done for a long time. 

Aha Moment

After that meeting, the “aha” moment that happened.

It finally occurred to me that —  

  • I see writing as more than a hobby.

Writing is something that I take quite seriously. However, I wasn’t doing the work necessary to become a better writer or providing readers with content that was all that interesting. 

Steven Pressfield’s definition of Resistance had taken control. I was going through the motions, and losing sight of where I wanted to go.

“Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be.”

The War Of Art꞉ Winning the Inner Creative Battle eBook location 78 – Steven Pressfield

I also was skirting around the primary issue. 

My lack of focus.

I have a tendency to be more in the moment and if something captures my interest in that moment — all bets are off. I am off on that tangent before I even realize I have gone anywhere. Yeah, a problem I have dealt with my entire life. This is something that has been so obvious to others, but until recently I never put 2+2 together. I am sure that I will be writing more about it as time passes.

Writing for a Purpose

When we went back in to sign our tax returns, after the usual chitchat, we discussed our taxes.  As we finished up, I smiled and handed her a folder with a business plan and business card inside. 

She smiled and asked what my elevator pitch was going to be? I chuckled and told her the following (yes, I remember a few tricks of the trade).

“Harold being Harold” is where I share my experience and insights about retirement and its myths. Along with how it changes our perspectives towards aging, running, productivity, technology, or lifelong learning. Retirement isn’t always what we believed it would be.

She chuckled, smiled, and we talked for a couple of minutes about what I was looking for in this little business I was getting into. 

Sometimes all it takes is a kind word, to move us in directions to do more with our lives.

Moving Forward

Many things have moved forward rapidly since that day. 

Other parts of how I envisioned where I would be if I am honest, have not. 

I have been my own worst enemy. Getting caught up in the gotta try this productivity app or idea — multiple times, before finally figuring out what works and doesn’t work for me. I have learned a great deal, but haven’t written a whole lot.

What I learned

Stopping to think about where you are in your life and honestly evaluating what you are doing is an exercise that we all need to do. 

  • It clears up a lot of the misconceptions and lies that we tell ourselves all too often.

Even then you have to go back and re-evaluate where you are periodically. So that you don’t lose sight of the path or even change directions when necessary.

What I initiated are good changes and like most things in life, not all are going the way that I envisioned or planned, but I am making forward progress. 

Isn’t that what matters?

These changes are making a difference in the things that matter most. TheWife has noticed a significant drop in the amount of stuff that I forget, I do more than sit around, and I know she appreciates having “me” back as a partner. Versus someone, she has to watch over.

The following quote from James Clear in his March 10th newsletter added to what I was attempting to say quite nicely this afternoon:

“Awareness is often enough to motivate change. Simply tracking your food intake will motivate you to alter it. Merely writing down your problems may spark ideas for possible solutions. The process starts with seeing reality clearly.”

It isn’t easy to see reality clearly. All too often what we end up seeing are our fantasies about how our lives are going, not the reality. Those fantasies or dreamscapes can lead us down treacherous paths that must be climbed out of before we can get back to living the lives that we could be living or at least moving towards.

Next up in this series will be about getting a desk, and yes, it was a big deal.

You can read part one of this series here

Come with me now, the best is yet to be.

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