For too many mornings of my life I’ve felt a little (or a lot) overwhelmed. Many things that needed to be done would be clamoring, “Me, me! Work on this right here!” It’s hard to choose when they’re all vying for attention like that.
After reading many books, articles, and blog posts and after trying various paper-based and online systems and tools, I’ve worked out ways to organize things so they stop screaming at me. So I can get to work. So I can get things done.
Step One: Describe the Purpose of Your Work
Here’s mine today (I refine it now and then): My purpose is to help people learn and be productive. The way I do that is through speaking, writing, and consulting on instructional design, training, and performance improvement.
For example: There’s nothing much cooler than helping people to learn new things or making everything work out better. Right now I’m working on a training program for caregivers who take care of developmentally challenged people who live in residential facilities. This training can be very good for the caregivers, their clients, their families, the business owner, and the society within which these care homes exist. Everybody can have a better day—every day—if we can help to give the best care.
What you want is a purpose that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning. It should be something that:
- You are passionate about
- You are—or can become—good at
- People are willing to pay for (if making money is important to you)
Easy for me to say. Articulating a main purpose sounds simple, but there have been times when I couldn’t think beyond decidedly non-lofty goals like these:
- Get through the day or the week without losing my mind
- Avoid embarrassing myself
- Make enough money to pay the bills
- Retire someday
- Figure out a loftier goal (right after I do a million other things)
If you feel any of these (or similar) things, don’t worry. Just start where you are: don’t force it.
Also, don’t wait around for inspiration. Pick something that you can live with for now. Don’t agonize. No one has to see it but you. And, you can work on it over time.
If you don’t have a purpose that works for you, here are some sources of inspiration:
Post | Working for a Bigger Purpose
The next post in this series will be about defining your major focus areas. You can choose and define categories, which will help to divide and conquer that chorus of voices saying, “Pick me! Work on me first! No, me!”