We are told that having a sense of purpose gives life meaning, and that fulfilment comes from finding meaning. Fulfilment, in its turn, means that you can be more directed in your life and, yes, you guessed it, purposeful!

It’s a circular relationship, apparently, and it can become a dizzying conundrum which makes you head spin as you try to keep up with current guru-trends and blend them into your day-to-day-going-about-doing-things.

Relax! There’s nothing you have to do, nothing you have to change. Your life can have the meaning you attribute to it, but only if you choose to do so. It’s a personal thing; unless you work in politics or you live in a nosey neighbourhood, nobody is judging.

So why am I writing about the six advantages of living purposefully? Well, all I can say is that it seemed like a good idea to tackle something that is true and not true at the same time.

Though I may poke fun at some of the lifestyle advice we are bombarded with, deep down we all know it makes sense. It’s true that having a sense of purpose has benefits, but it’s also not true in the sense that you don’t need to worry if it doesn’t (I’d explain that but I haven’t worked it out yet).

The advantages

I have worked out that acting with purpose is not quite the same as having a purpose. Acting purposefully means focussing on the small stuff you are doing now (or a bit later if you are busy right now), whereas having a purpose relates to the fulfilment in life stuff.

So here are the seven advantages of acting with purpose, as I see them:

  • Acting means doing it in the here and now. Instant gratification is generally more fun than waiting. Doing something immediate and with intention feels good.
  • Since behaving purposefully means focussing on what you are involved in, there’s no need to worry about long-term goals like security, saving for your pension or Brexit, (In Britain. If you are not British you’ll have your own political shenanigans to worry about).
  • Acting purposefully makes you look decisive. This is generally appreciated (especially if you work in politics), and it reduces speculation by others (if you live in a nosey neighbourhood).
  • Acting purposefully is the opposite of multi-tasking. Anything for a break! Besides, the effect of multitasking has now been shown to be akin trying to make good decisions after six pints of lager (at that point your choices are reduced to stopping, or ordering the seventh, I’m told).
  • Doing one thing to the best of your ability is bliss, unless you are a perfectionist (see other posts, for that one).
  • Acting with purpose in the moment means, essentially, being mindful. Ignore the current ‘buzz’ around mindfulness. What most people don’t tell you is that when you become absorbed in what you are doing (purposefully), it affects your autonomic nervous system and triggers responses that act as an antidote to stress. We can all do with some of that.
  • Here’s a bonus point: Acting purposefully means the opposite of doing things on autopilot, or, as mindfulness researcher Ellen Langer said in her book on the subject, “mindlessly”.

Life is filled with small mercies, and if you’ve read to the end of this post you might have just experienced one. You now have the option of forgetting about it, or reading it again, with purpose, so you get a little practice. Thanks for staying with me.

I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.


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