How to Create Lasting Impact and Live a Life of Meaning: 7 Insights to Help Discover your Purpose and Rise Up to Your Fullest Potential
**Previously published on The Mission, Medium.com**
Did you once believe your thoughts were impossible? No, you believed all was possible. That’s the unscathed purity of youth.
On any given day you could turn into a princess, a superhero, or a ballerina. Sometimes our friends would play with us, and together our thoughts became even grander! Our friends were our dream team, partners in creation!
If thoughts are capable of becoming things, then, are our long lost dreams still things living inside of us? If that’s true, where did those unresolved, unfulfilled dreams go?
What happened to your life script?
You used to feel so brave and strong, so invincible until your beliefs and self-doubt sabotaged your goals. And what role did rejection play, or fear, failure, guilt… life.
Beliefs are thoughts we have over and over again until they become what we believe. They can be true or not.
The good beliefs are those that move your life forward. Negative beliefs live inside of your mind as incessant chatter. It’s the inner voice that tells you, “you’re not good enough,” “you’ll never be successful,” “you’re unloveable,” “too fat,” “not talented.” Are they true? Think about it. Where did they first arise?
Psychologists have long used the tool of a “life review” as the key to understanding who you are. But, what if you could use your life’s timeline to pinpoint where your self-sabotaging beliefs began. More importantly, what if you could look at the events of your life in a more positive light and discover something remarkable inside that timeline which gave birth to your unique abilities and the potential you have for creating an even better life.
It was so much easier to believe in ourselves when we were young. If you’ve ever watched the food competition show, Master Chef, you’ll notice the difference between the junior competition and the adult version of the show.
With the adult version, there’s backstabbing, fighting, short tempers, and out of control emotions. In the junior version, you’ll notice the kids share encouragement, support, and even help for the underdog.
How did the adult version of the show become so tarnished? It clearly tries to demonstrate that success comes from taking another person down, not by personal excellence alone.
And that is simply not true. This behavior is not just seen in reality competition shows, it seeps into everyday life, too.
But what if you discovered that dreams are not monopolized by a chosen few? Are dreams monopolized?
No… You were born to take center stage of your own life.
In fact, because of life, you’re more capable of fulfilling your dreams. Life gives us a backpack full of survival skills, and they are learned from our past and renewed by our present.
“We are given dreams for a reason…”
Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, said on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday interview that he believes we are given dreams for a reason and when we have that dream, we are capable of fulfilling it in one version or another.
Sometimes we accidentally stuff our emotional backpack with wounded beliefs. They hold us back.
Awareness of those beliefs and doubts is the bridge to resilience. How you handled your past was the best you could do at the time with what you knew and what you believed then. Today, you use that awareness as a perspective to start building a fulfilled life.
Canfield believes every person is meant to realize their purpose and with that comes lasting impact. Everything in your past has lead you to this moment in time… and now you’re dreaming of what’s possible again, aren’t you?
“The whole purpose of life,” Canfield says, “is to gain mastery, and who you became in the process can never be taken away.”
That statement sent goosebumps (or “God bumps” as Canfield calls them) up and down every cell of my body.
It released me from the pain of having to look back on my past as a ball and chain. I no longer had to feel guilty for the way I reacted to times in my life or the choices I made. I simply had to learn from them (and make amends where they were due.)
Effective Steps for Realizing Your Lasting Impact and Fulfilling Your Soul’s Purpose:
1. Write a list of all the things you’ve accomplished and brought joy to you and others. A few years ago, my life was at a crossroads. I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment or purpose. I asked a wise mentor to help me make sense of the chaos, the unrest, and the sorrow. He said, “Sandy, you’re in transition. Write a list of all the things you’ve accomplished. From that list, you’ll know you’ve made a difference, and keep doing that.
That’s exactly what I did, and what I urge you to do. It will be a resource of inspiration to carry you into the next decades of your life. You’ll feel a sense of having mattered…and isn’t that what life is all about?
2. Ask yourself, What do I need to know about myself to heal?
- Is it finding a new job or falling in love with a new aspect of your job?
- Is it letting go of a toxic friend or taking a step back from a difficult family member?
- Is it picking up a hobby you gave up long ago and making it the focus of your attention?
- Is it to make peace with the past and the possibility there is no resolution to some things that really hurt? Not easy. Sometimes professional help might be considered if you feel it is holding you back.
Often the answer lies when you step back into your life review and remember the happiest times. But it’s also a time to make sense of the worst of times. (my previous Mission Article discusses the life review in detail. The link is at the end of this article)
3. When considering your timeline, ask yourself:
- How did I survive?
- What did it teach me?
- How have I used those tools in my life today?
4. In your observations, which of your experiences can you continue to grow and create a new relationship with?
- Is it the work you’re doing now in your everyday life?
- Is it volunteer work that holds your passion?
- Consider your creative gifts? Art? Writing? Athletics? Cooking? Design? Listening?
Consider the things you love to do!
Where can you gain mastery? If you loved riding a bicycle as a child, maybe it’s time to invest in a mountain bike. If you’re a songwriter, start writing songs; if you’re a gardener, start your organic garden; if you’re meant to teach children, start being amazing with your own.
“Tap into your essence… tap into your success”- Jack Canfield
5. Your “Why” should make you cry. Your mind, your heart, and your soul will know when you’ve found your “Why,” because the emotion will pool deep inside of you and will bring you tears of knowing….and…you will cry. I felt exactly this emotion when I wrote the last sentence in my book. My purpose had found me.
As a mother, you hope that one day your child will find their own true purpose. I watched as my daughter struggled with her career path. It took her years before she realized the one thing she was truly passionate about was her exercise routine and inspiring others.
With great effort, training, lots of frustration, and unwavering vision, her dreams soared into a full-time career where she is traveling and training all over the United States teaching new gyms how to master their classes and make them memorable.
She recently told me she wakes up every day in love with what she’s doing. (oh… and in love with her husband who’s an LA County Firefighter).
6. Write about it. I have discovered there are so many people who yearn to write! A journal is a perfect tool for observing and healing your life. When you share your thoughts and emotions in writing, you can leave them on the page so your mind can rest.
Give yourself a time and a place to write. By making it a morning practice, it awakens you to new thoughts each day as the sun rises.
Canfield also recommends visualizing what you want every night before you fall asleep. It gives your mind an assignment… to fulfill your desires and dreams.
7. What can you do now to use those insights to create lasting impact?
Give a lot of thought to this question. There might be more than one answer. You don’t have to know the whole process. It can be overwhelming.
Just look at the very next step. Is it signing up for a class? Purchasing seed for your garden to grow? Outlining a story you want to write?
For me, I took my journal a step further and began writing my latest book.
I wrote about the hardest of times. The worst day of my life. It was sudden and unexpected. I lost my 16-year old son to a deadly form of meningitis.He went from a vibrantly healthy, very alive teenage boy… to death, in 24 hours.
That damn fast.
And my world changed forever.
Writing helped me. I watched myself heal within the pages. I became the observer of my grief in the act of writing a book for others to heal.
“You know you’re on the right path when you’re experiencing satisfaction and joy while you’re doing it.” -Jack Canfield
I found great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment in writing. Many days I would begin writing after work and suddenly realize it was midnight! Time escaped me within the joy of fulfilling my purpose.
Finding and working within your purpose doesn’t mean it’s all fun. There’s a lot of effort, toil, and tears, but it raises you up to the place you need to be to meet your potential.
I realized I had a legacy to give, more importantly, my son’s life had new meaning. He was still with me in my heart and living within the pages of a book… it’s now his legacy.
I am grateful every day for the lasting impact writing has given me, and I’m not done yet.
I know for a fact there’s something within your life, hiding in your timeline, that has a lasting impact, too.
Observe, listen, and expand on your life story. Your purpose is there, I promise.
Thank you for reading my article. As promised, here’s the link to the additional article on The Mission about the power of your life story: Borrow a Tool from One of the Greatest Movies of All Time.