I’ve recently had the pleasure of hosting a 20-something couple that are travelling. They stayed with us in our home in Sydney for a week before flying onto New Zealand for the next stage of their travel adventure.
They had a very flexible itinerary, no burning ambition to see specific ‘sights’ and very little in the way of deadlines. Time is bountiful with nowhere much to be, and nothing much to do. As I lived along side them for the week I was reminded of my own 3 years of travelling around the world. I also had very little in the way of an itinerary, only bought one way tickets to countries, and mostly lived each day as it came. I explained to anyone who was interested (especially those travellers I met with 2 weeks to ‘see it all’ and a manic sense of urgency), that this allowed me to be spontaneous. To change plans at a moments notice. To take up opportunities when they presented. I declared that I relished not being tied down or restricted in any way. I was a free spirit.
While drifting along on whatever current I happened to stumble across did make for some unexpected adventures, in unplanned locations, it lead more often to blurry, unmemorable weeks spent in my hammock reading trashy novels, or playing endless games of backgammon in some beach-side cafe. Days passed slowly. And while even with hindsight, I’d be loath to say my time on the road was ‘wasted’, I certainly didn’t utilise those 3 years spent travelling as well as I could have. I wish I’d have seen the salt plains in Bolivia, and experienced the wonder of Machu Picchu… both amazing things that the ‘currents’ I was drifting on in South America, didn’t quite carry me to. I wish I’d had a bit more purpose to my travel.
Fast forward 20 years and my days are now full-to-the-brim with the mundane tasks that come with juggling kids, shopping, work, school, housework, partner, after-school-activities, exercise, paying bills, sorting out the garage… Time is scarce and suddenly the years I have ahead of me are fewer than the years that have passed. I love my life and my family, but each day has become a precious resource not to be squandered. Despite the fullness of my days, I still find myself drifting a bit. Getting done what has to be done and nothing more. But we all need a few adventures in our lives. We need to do more than just the things on our day-to-day task list. We need to do things that make us feel good/special/accomplished/energised/nourished …. and we need to work out how to make space in our full-to-the-brim lives for these things. I need to no longer drift (and perhaps end up missing fabulous experiences like Machu Picchu), but istead drive the itinerary of my life with purpose.
With this in mind, I’ve recently introduced one new habit into my routine and have discovered the amazing value I can now get out of each precious day. I start each day with a sense of purpose. This purpose isn’t around ticking off the mundane to-do-list (that gets done because I have no choice), but around one extra thing I will accomplish in the day ahead. For me, it might be to add the challenge of an extra kilometre to my run that day, or make a call to a friend I haven’t connected with for a while, or spend 30 minutes researching our next family holiday, or work on a new personal vision board.
Each morning before I get out of bed, I spend a few minutes thinking about what I want to do, and commit to making this one ‘thing’ happen. I’m discovering that by declaring my purpose, my intention, to accomplish this one thing every morning, more often than not, I get it done! And because I get it done, my life is richer, more interesting and I feel like I’ve accomplished something for me.
So, why not give it a go, and see if starting your day with a sense of purpose enhances your life.