Finding Purpose in Life

Ask yourself, “What do I believe my purpose is in this life?” When reading this question it is easy for our minds to go straight to work, and list all of the achievements and accomplishments we strive to attain in life. But, after taking a step back from those answers, we may encounter some falsehood in answering this seemingly simple question.

Is PURPOSE in life really to move up the ladder, build wealth, or buy a beach house? These are some examples of what some of us might set goals to have one day, but can we say with confidence they are our purpose? Consider the fact that our goals may not have anything to do with our purpose in life, perhaps.

If our purpose is NOT to attain nice things, go to cool places or have a house on the beach, what is purpose?

Personally, I identified my purpose(s) in life by following my will for meaning (as expressed by Victor Frankl in his novel, Man’s Search for Meaning), or a feeling that I contribution to a certain area in my life. I found much of this purpose had to do with my relationships with people and nothing to do with work or accomplishments at all at the end of the day.

I believe our society may have purpose and goals mixed up to be synonymous. As a result, our professions can truly distract us from our spirituality and understanding our real path in life. In pre-historic times, our lives were surrounded around maintaining existence, our purpose in life being the need to provide food for our family and keep them alive. Now, we take our existence for granted, and since we have less concern about survival, we embark on a search for some greater purpose to our lives through work and checking off goals. But, are we searching too far? Are we trying too hard? Is our true purpose found in our everyday existence after all?

Perhaps our life purpose is simply relieving another of their suffering by being a friend, giving love to another in a time of need, giving purpose to another, or serving as a positive figure in the life of a growing adolescent. Such examples are not necessarily sought, for these are all opportunities to pursue a purposeful life exist in our everyday lives in our experiences with friends, family, and loved ones. We are given opportunity for purpose no matter what our status, occupation or wealth. Dig deep into understanding yourself, and know purpose can be find in the simplest existence. Then ask yourself, “What is my purpose?”

Be Careful Not to Inherit the Conditionings of Others

I have spoken much about conditioning in this blog so I will not go on and on about the importance of recognizing our own conditionings, but the main objective of this post is to understand the conditionings of OTHERS before allowing for their conditioning to impact our own. We must begin to understand where people are coming from when they provide us with their own opinions before accepting them as fact.

Why do we take advice from others who are not in where we want to be in life? Unless we wish to live a similar life as the one providing advice, we must question its relevance to ourselves and what we are looking to accomplish. It is similar in questioning whether we would take financial advice from someone who has filed for bankruptcy a number of times. We simply would not do so. There are people in our lives who serve as resources for a variety of challenges, but not for all.

Many people who provide us with advice are sourcing their words straight from their conditionings. Their beliefs may have been handed down to them by their parents, by community, by friends and neighbors, who more than likely ended up in the same place. Now, these same individuals are making the effort to influence you with these same conditionings. By understanding their conditioned fears and how they played out in their lives, we can be empowered to make the choice to own this condition or not.

For example, if my father has always had a fear of losing his job, belief that working at a big corporation was the best career and was an extremely religious person, what would you expect of my beliefs? Without the awareness of these beliefs being HIS conditionings and not my own (YET), I am likely to inherit his same fears, lack of aspiration, and narrow-mindedness towards other religious beliefs or ideas other than his, and now my, own.

We will inherit conditionings inevitably without our knowledge, for many of them had been engrained at a young age, but as we grow older and gain an awareness of the origin of these conditionings and who/where/what they are coming from, we can take the power back to reject or accept them as we see fit.

Building Up Leg Strength

Men and women both look for ways to build up their lower-body muscles. The muscles in our lower-body are our largest and as a result, require the greatest amount of energy to build. So, instead of using that extra needed energy on researching the best ways to build leg strength, I provided my own personal proven method below! Give it a try!

Throughout the years, I have experimented with various weight-lifting, body-weight and cardio training exercises to build up strength in the lower-body. Many different exercises have been successful for this task, but the combinations below have proven to be most effective for me and my goals.

For the purpose of building strength in the leg, glute, hamstring and overall lower-body, try the below supersets! These exercises are comprised of a short cardio exercise, followed by lower-body-targeted superset combinations.

 

Cardio:

1 Minute Sprints (*Critical to sprint, not jog)

Repeat x3

 

1st Weight Superset:

12 Rep Leg Press

12 Rep Deadlift

12 Rep Straight-legged deadlift

10 Deep Squat

Repeat x3

 

2nd Weight Superset:

12 Rep Quad Extension Machine (Both Feet 90o with Legs)

12 Rep Quad Extension Machine (Both Feet Turned Outward at 130o)

12 Rep Quad Extension Machine (Pointed Toes)

12 Rep Hamstring Curl Machine

Repeat x 3

 

Finished!!

Perform this exercise once per week with an increase of 5-10 lbs each week and notice your lower-body strength increase!

 

The Choice to be Free

I hear the sound of my heart bumping through my ears at the same pace as I feel it pulsate against the balls of my feet.

I stand there, still, free from judgment of myself as I know no one is watching.

“I am beautiful. I am smart. I am bold. I am loving. I am kind. I am caring,”

Mantras I repeat to myself as I am erectly planted with my stems to the ground.

I sway as if in a slight wind, as I feel my body shift weight to one side of my body to the other.

I love being here.

A feeling of calm engrosses me with the exhale of every breath.

If I can stand here alone free from judgment, why can’t I stand in a populated area all the same?

Why am I timid to speak up in a group but have the gusto for constant debates with myself?

Why can I dance alone in an empty yoga room but I am frozen in the presence of others?

Why?

To be free from judgment of ourselves is to be free.

To be accepting of ourselves—insecurities, thoughts, and fears—is to be free.

Do I wish to live a life of freedom and wander, or would I rather be bound by my own mind, shackled in a room which has been hoarded with insecurities, thoughts and fears blocking the door out.

What is the choice?

 

Quarter-Life Crisis

Most of us have heard about a middle-life crisis, a stage of life stereotypically accompanied by an impromptu purchase of a fancy red sports car and new out-of-character hobbies, but how about a quarter-life crisis? Since it is safe to say that the majority of us at 25 years old are still broke and living with our parents, our quarter-life crisis may not be projected with a luxury car purchase. Conversely, it can be accompanied by overthinking about the future, anxiety about achieving our goals, being unsure about making a new move, and fearing we will not have done enough with our lives by 30 years old.

The irony of having such doubts about ourselves is it can be debilitating and the exact reason we will not achieve our goals. It is easy to look five steps ahead to our ideal life, but how about all of the steps in-between? When we focus too heavily on step five, it hinders us from taking steps one, two, three and four.

So now I beg the question, “Would it be better if we did not set goals at all then?!”

I am not sure about my own response to this question. I believe we do need an objective that will drive us into action, but perhaps my response would have more to do with allowing ourselves to be flexible and do more acting and less planning to inch our way closer to reaching our objectives.

For instance, we should be open to changing our path if interests or lifestyle changes. Sometimes we are too scared to change because of the time and money we already invested in the field we are in, the degrees, the years, the relationships, and to jump into a new field of interest is often less appealing for these reasons. However, if we are not flexible in catering our goals to match our new interests, we will never be able to become that person we envision at step five.

Furthermore, planning less means taking time away from creating a vision board, writing out a five-year plan or creating a business plan, and giving more time to taking action towards our goals.

If you too are going through your own quarter-life crisis, my advice is to put less pressure on yourself, live in the moment, be flexible and focus on taking step one rather than constantly thinking about and planning for step five.

Think about the person at step five. What was the most basic action that person needed to take to get them to where they are? Take it today.

Learning New Skills

“I suck.” “I’m not good at this.” “I should just quit now.”

These are all common phrases we tell to ourselves when we begin learning a new skill. This negative self-talk will definitely not help us improve, but it is sure to discourage us enough to quit.

Learning a new skill is one of the most exciting, yet challenging situations we can put ourselves in. Think back to when you were first learning to ride a bike. I am sure you fell numerous times, cried, felt discouraged and wanted to give up. After each of these falls, though you did not recognize it at the time, you were becoming a better rider. Fast-forward a few weeks and many falls later, I bet you were riding up and down the street like it was second-nature. How awesome!

We have to remember this experience and understand that learning ANY new skill is no different than learning to ride a bike. Though failure can be tough, know that even your failure is getting you closer mastering that skill!

As we grow older, many of us give up on developing our skills. We begin to believe we are too old to learn new things, and are not as willing to learn as we used to be as kids. Basically, any skill was a new skill to learn as a kid, from the basics of reading, writing and even tying our shoes. However, we were always excited when we finally accomplished these simple feats! Let’s embrace that same excitement as adults!

For example, I recently became a local real estate agent in my area. Initially, I believed I would only use my license for myself because I was not interested in getting into the sales side of real estate. As an introvert, I was convinced sales was a skill too far outside of my wheelhouse. I assumed it to be a skill it I could never be good at.

Eventually, I decided to take on the challenge of embracing the sales side of real estate, and see it as an opportunity to learn a new skill, the very skill I deemed impossible for me to learn, sales!

“Oh my! How could you ever step so far outside of your comfort zone, Alex!? You better come back!” my mind tries to convince me daily.

Though it is still early in this skill development, and I have already failed many times, I am excited to witness my progress come to fruition down the road no matter how long that road may be.

We must all understand that falling on your face only gives you the opportunity to get right back up! It is up to us to choose whether to stay down or keep going.

Take hold of the opportunities to learn a new skill when you get the chance! Maybe there is an Excel class or writing workshop at your place of work or local college that you can sign up for. It is never too late to learn something new! Get excited! Be patience! And watch ourselves grow. J

An Introverted Advantage

Though I have been trying not to hard-define myself as such, I am an “introvert” by nature. What I mean by this is to not allow for “introvert” to be my identity and put me in a box to make me fearful of opportunities I may perceive to exclusively be for “extroverts.” It goes back to the post about “Introverted Networking” (posted 3.23.18). It had been too scary and too out-of-character for me to attend these meetings, I believed, making every reason for why I do not belong there and should not go.

The typical characteristics of an introvert are shy, quiet and uncomfortable around people or crowded settings. Others possessive of these traits are often most comfortable alone or with limited human interaction. Networking events, being the exact opposite of this setting, are deemed to be inherently for extroverts. This is by no means an argument to say organizers of networking events should make gatherings smaller, quieter, or with less social interaction to make the introverted feel comfortable… NEVER! On the other hand, it is rather to say it is the responsibility of the introverted to transform this fear into an opportunity to grow outside their comfort zone.

This is what I will call the introverted advantage. For the extroverted people, who are often more confident in loud, talkative settings, these events might be no big deal. They are comfortable and might even thrive in an environment where they are expected to talk to strangers. However, this lack of discomfort does not allow for them to benefit from a networking event in the way it would an introvert. Perhaps an extrovert’s “uncomfortable” setting is a place where they have to be quiet, alone and isolated from others! Being in this place would, conversely, challenge them to be outside out their comfort zone. For the record, I speak of only the introverted advantage because this is all I personally know. I do not think I am equip to speak for the extroverted advantage, for example, so extroverts comment below! Let me know!

Back to the introverted advantage… As I see it from my experience, there are often more times we will be stuck in uncomfortable conversations, attend awkward parties and have to speak in group settings in a work environment, than there will be opportunities to be alone. For this reason, I find the organic functions of the day-to-day have more opportunities for the introverted to grow! All my life I simply wished I was more outgoing, beating myself up for being awkward in social situations. I was unable to see these events as opportunities, and instead, they were burdens. I can now see that my nature is more of an advantage than a disadvantage. If we are not challenging our own comfort, we are not changing. Once again, I do not encourage anyone to define themselves and label themselves as an introvert or extrovert, morning person or night person, shy or outgoing too rigidly due to the opportunity cost which may come with the inability to recognize discomfort as a chance to grow. On the other hand, let us search for these opportunities to be uncomfortable and get outside our comfort zone.