NaNoWriMo Day 24: Finding Your Purpose in Life

I wanted to take a day off today. I’m a workaholic, though. Stopping doesn’t work. I’ll expand my word count today, whatever it takes. One hour. Word sprint. Stream of consciousness on. 3, 2, 1, go.

It’s already late in the evening again. When I get philosophical. You can count on me on every late night out with my friends. I’ll ask the question about the purpose of life. Sitting together with my family. I’ll eventually say something very deep and will fall into a stream of ideas and considerations about life.

When I started this project I said to myself: You will get up early and write. Not like last year, when you gave up sleep to write. Guess what I do now… I’m starting to forget many important things. But I still keep up with uni. With work. That’s nice. There are a few Ted Talks that I listened to that changed my thinking a lot. Up to this point, nearly all my knowledge is derived from Ted Talks…

Conversations.

Having a good conversation. That also goes along the lines with being charismatic. Show the person you are talking to that he or she is the most important one to you in this very moment. Put your phone away. Focus on the conversation. Don’t multitask. The chance that you will miss something important is high.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1vskiVDwl4&list=LLnp37egRNT9OVdNuaEZJJQg&index=17

This is gold. You should definitely watch it. If you don’t have the time, let me briefly summarise:

Be in the moment. Don’t focus on the details, no numbers, please. Keep it short. Don’t repeat things you have already talked about.

“Listening requires to set aside oneself.” Don’t think you know how the person felt in that moment. Don’t tell them your personal story of “that one time I…” The chances are high that the feelings of the person you are talking to are completely different. It will not help them if you dig out your own history. Be there, be present. Tell them that you understand their feelings, that you appreciate their trust and that you will support them. That’s all you need to say.

Like you have learned in school for writing a report, ask questions like What? Why? They spark the conversation!

Don’t play the expert. You don’t know everything! Bill Nye said “Everyone you’ll ever meet knows something that you don’t.” Find that something! It makes a conversation so much more interesting if you try to find out what the other person is passionate about. Let them talk and learn from it. Listen carefully.

Have you ever been in a situation where you drifted off because you really wanted to say something, when the other one was still talking? Then you said it and didn’t fit at all? You stopped listening. Always remain silent until the last word of the sentence is spoken.

In the end of her talk she recited this one sentence: “A good conversation is like a miniskirt. Short enough to remain interesting but long enough to cover the subject.”

However inappropriate that might seem – it is still a very good summary.

Yesterday I watched the talk of an improv artist which was amazing! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhkcmN-CCYw

An improviser has to listen. Follow the ideas of other people. Implement them. There are three aspects you should consider in your everyday conversation.

Yes, end.

You are not only accepting an idea but going with the flow. You are adding your ideas to it. A conversation between two improvisers might look like that: “Doctor, I’m here for my four o’clock appointment.” “Alright, lie down, we will get started with the brain transplantation.”

The second improviser did not only accept the idea but developed it further. That is what you should do in everyday conversation. Get excited about the ideas of others. Try to cut your doubts for a minute. Let the other person tell you about their new project!

Make them look good.

It’s not about yourself. If you accept an idea, their enthusiasm will look justified. If you help them develop their idea further, they will be happy. Don’t make the conversation about yourself. You doubts. Your ideas. Your failures. When somebody tells your about an idea, say: Awesome!

Be positive.

While having dinner with a friend of mine today, she told me how to reject ideas in a better way. It’s very interesting how the word order can change the meaning so completely. Consider these two sentences.

“I like your idea but it wouldn’t work.”

“I would do it like that but your idea seems also good.”

Be positive! If you don’t like something, say so. Acknowledge the efforts and ideas of the other person. Make them look good, even if it was a bad idea. It’s not about you.

These are some aspects of how to have a better conversation. Chances are high that in my next one I’ll forget these aspects again. However, sometimes they pop up in your head and you might word something differently. You might make the day of someone because you accepted their idea. Because you said Yes, and…

Saying Yes is a great concept for life, too. I have some trouble reading all these books about finding yourself. Instead I like 10 minute talks of people who will tell me what the purpose of my life is. Now that one was brilliant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVsXO9brK7M&list=WL&index=44

Up to that point I hadn’t really found anything that would deserve the title “Life purpose” yet. Not something you wake up with every day and that lets you jump out of bed and get to work. Not that kind of purpose. Not that kind that you can print and hang on your wall. If someone asked me: What do you do? I’ll stumble around a bit. Well, I’m an environmentalist I guess and kind of a writer and a bit of an artist… I think…

That’s not something that keeps you going! I needed something different. “I want to make the world a better place” is very vague. Too vague.

Have you found the purpose in your life yet? This talk will get you a little closer to finding it. With five little questions.

1. Who are you?

Say your name out loud. The most simple question.

2. What do you do?

That was the first tricky one for me. I do too many things! I have too many passions and activities. I love them all equally, so I thought. He said that same thing. If you have too many passions, choose the one you feel comfortable teaching to others. When he counted down from 5, what popped up in my head? Writing. That’s the thing I do. I write freaking 1666 words a day. Still at it. Not given up yet. For the second time in two years. Therefore, I said: Writing.

3. Who do you do it for?

Oh boy, the next difficult question. I write on a blog. About the environment. Whom is that all dedicated to? Everyone. I write to everyone who likes to read my stories and my rants and the confusing little texts I produce every day.

4. What do those people want or need?

Wow, that’s tough. Information about our environment? How to change their behaviour to make this earth a better place? An outspoken advocate for our planet? Still very rough but it’s beginning to take a shape.

5. How do the people change through your work?

They hopefully become more aware of their environment. I would like to make people work together to protect our earth. Now that’s a purpose!

Now comes the best part. If you have gone through all these stages of finding your purpose, you will have one amazing sentence for question 5. I want to make people smile. You could be a baker, an artist? I want to make them realise their potential. A coach? I want to give children the best chances to a good life. A teacher? These sentences sound so much more interesting than just the profession you hold. Next time someone asks you what you do, answer with the sentence you came up with for number 5. That will force them to ask. How do you do that? How do you achieve this goal, this purpose? A conversation is initiated. You look like a dedicated and inspiring personality.

Your life purpose can change. Your priorities might change. That’s ok! At least try to have one at every point of your life. If also can be to make your family happy. Your friends. Make it about the people around you. Do something for them. By helping other people, we ourselves get a little happier.

It’s exactly one hour later now. I have reached the 40 000 words I should have reached today. Only 10 000 left and 6 days to go. I’m in schedule, everything is fine. I’m tired. It’s going to be ok. I’ve found my life purpose today. Well, kind of. I’m still a little scared. Writing is not a particularly secure job. Is it even really a job in the end? Am I just naive? Me and my crazy ideas? Just keep going, I say to myself. Write on.

Current Word Count: 40 180

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