I went to the Cincinnati Zoo this week with my daughter and six grandkids. They decided they wanted to ride the Carousel (we always called it the Merry-Go-Round). So they all climbed up on their exotic animals and the small ones sat in their mystical chariot and around and around they go, and go, and go, and go. No one appeared to be having any fun except my middle grandson. When they got off the ride, I asked my granddaughter if she had fun and she said “We didn’t go anywhere. We just went in circles.” While everyone else was busy riding the carousel going nowhere, my little grandson was utterly excited about being on this ride.
I was reminded of how often we go through life or we go to work every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, just following the routine. Being busy — but not productive. Being active — but not really accomplishing anything. It’s like being on a Carousel going nowhere. We are riding exotic animals but just “chasing the wind.”
Advancement or “climbing to the top” can be meaningless. No matter what we see, we are never satisfied. No matter what we have, we are never content. Position, popularity, and prestige can be poor goals for a life’s work. Although many pursue them, when there is no purpose, these goals lack substance and rarely produce a life filled with happiness.
Don’t mistake “activity” with accomplishment.
It seems like everyone has talked about, blogged about, presented about, preached about living a life of purpose. And while there is no shortage of information on the topic, there are still days I get caught up in the carousel of life and find myself riding the exotic animals, chasing the wind, and going nowhere.
When we live a life filled with purpose, there is meaning.
When you live a life filled with purpose you become engaged in life and look forward to going to work every day. You find yourself working towards the goals in life and work that really matters. While you are hard at work, you see how the activities of the day move you closer to the bigger goals of tomorrow, next month, or next year. Your work becomes meaningful and life becomes exciting!
How do you stop chasing the wind?
There is a simple exercise I have used often with my clients (and myself) to help them refocus and gain clarity around what is really most important to them. This exercise brings purpose to their day. At the end of the month, it helps them set goals for the next month, bringing more clarity and purpose to their “to do” list for each day.
Get out a piece of paper and a pen and write down detailed answers to each question. And make sure to print off this exercise and keep it close so that you can refer back to it often when you find yourself chasing the wind.
When you think about what you want to achieve …
• What is most important to you Today?
• What is most important to you this Week?
• What is most important to you this Year?
• What is most important to you in your Lifetime?
If you have completed the CliftonStrengths assessment, you can take this a step further by exploring:
1. how your natural talent has a direct connection to your answers and
2. how you can leverage your talents each day to help you achieve your goals.
Take a moment and post your insights below. I’d love to hear your responses to this activity.