“Serendipity can be developed, as an attitude of the mind and as a quality of the spirit. It can energize and excite our lives and give us balance between structure and spontaneity, between flat, fixed firmness and free, fun flexibility. It can allow us to ‘get there’ and to ‘enjoy the journey’ at the same time. It can tap us into a higher, clearer reality and inject joy into what is no longer the routine.” ~ Richard Eyre in Spiritual Serendipity: Cultivating and Celebrating the Art of the Unexpected

The term serendipity was coined way back in the eighteenth century by a British writer, Horace Walpole, who defined it as: “that quality of mind, which through awareness, sagacity, and good fortune, allows one to frequently discover something good while seeking something else.”  But as Richard Eyre points out in the opening quote, you can also view serendipity as more than a “quality of the mind” but also as a quality of the spirit, and when you do, serendipity can create a bridge between your will and the will of the Divine.

I also believe that there’s a special relationship that exists (or that can be created) between spiritual serendipity and life purpose. It’s a relationship that I’ve been exploring and developing for over sixteen years, and it’s simply this:  The clearer you are about your life purpose and the more you live in tune with that purpose, the more serendipity you will attract into your life. Over time that serendipity becomes a key way to attract the resources into your life that supports your purpose.

Rethinking Purpose

For this relationship to really make sense we need to back up just a bit and look more closely at what I mean by life purpose. You see, I believe we are evolving beyond the cultural definition that says a person’s life purpose is all about what they are here to do or to accomplish. Instead, it’s time we embraced the idea that our Divinely Inspired Life Purpose is more about who we are as spiritual beings and what we came here to this life to be and to experience.  When we view our life purpose in this way, we can see that our life purpose becomes the context, vessel or container into which we pour our life. This context of being, then has the power to shape and form all the rest of our life including our decisions, choices, and actions.

For example, for the past decade-and-a-half I’ve poured my life into this context:

My life on purpose is to live an inspired, inspiring and courageously creative life of purposeful, passionate, and playful service; a life of mindful abundance balanced with simplicity; and spiritual serenity.

Allowing this Divinely Inspired Life Purpose to be a primary shaper of my decisions, choices and actions led me to create my first Purpose Project entitled Project Purpose: to write and publish articles about people whose lives are dedicated to a bold and inspiring purpose or vision.

Living true to our Divinely Inspired Life Purpose in this way can also greatly increase our ability to live a serendipitously joyful life because we begin to attract to us all the resources we need to be our life purpose and to express our life purpose. Remember Walpole’s definition: “that quality of mind, which through awareness, sagacity, and good fortune, allows one to frequently discover something good while seeking something else.”

Now, let’s look at this definition from a Life On Purpose Perspective.

Attracting Serendipity On Purpose

The clearer we become of our Divinely Inspired Life Purpose the more in alignment we bring our personal will with the will of the Divine because our life purpose is divinely inspired. Our personal life purpose becomes aligned with the Grand Plan and Design of the Universe.  So by increasing our awareness of our true purpose, we also maintain a degree of sagacity that Walpole refers to. We begin to exercise “the quality of being discerning, sound in judgment, and farsighted.” So, as we’re seeking something else, ie our life on purpose, we discover — actually attract to ourselves — something good, all the resources we need to express and to fulfill on our life purpose.

Let me share a couple examples how this has worked in my own life.

The Evolution of Project Purpose

One of the primary motivations in creating Project Purpose was to inspire people to live more purposeful and meaningful lives. I figured people might read these purposeful profiles and think, “Well if that person can do such amazing things in their community, I can at least do something that will contribute and make a difference in my community.” That was what I originally started out searching for.  What I didn’t realize is that in the process of interviewing dozens of people living true to their own purpose, I ended up also inspiring myself.  I began to realize that most of the people I interviewed had chosen to express their life purpose in some organized fashion — either a nonprofit or for profit enterprise. I started to think: “Well, if they can do that, why can’t I?” And so in 1996 my wife and I did just that. We co-founded Life On Purpose Institute which became our ‘something good.’

As I continued to live true to my life purpose I attracted two people who asked to translate my book, Life On Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life into Russian and Italian.  

A Recipe for a Powerful Long Lasting Life Purpose

Imagine you want to make up a batch of life purpose; one that will be powerful enough to shape your life, long-lasting enough to last your entire life (or beyond), and yet at the same time that offers plenty of room to fully express yourself.  Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

1) Your Vision: What is your vision for your life, for your family, community and even the world? Exploring this question will help you connect with that sense of awe, wonder, and possibility that’s so important in living a purposeful life.

2) Your Core Values: What are those intangibles of life that you’d be willing to give your life for?  Our core values are those intangibles of life that matter the most to us. Those that we have consciously chosen over all the others that people might say we should value.  These are the ones that matter the most — that we’d give our life for. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re ready to stand in front of a firing squad for them, although it might (and for sure many people in history have). What it does mean is that we’re willing to devote a portion of our life energy to have these core values be more present in our own lives and in the world.

3) Being: the Essence of Who We Are: Who are you at the very core of your being or soul? What qualities and attributes do you know you can count on from yourself and that others can count on as well?

4) Universal Love: This is the key ingredient that binds all the others together into a powerful, long-lasting and yet flexible life purpose. A true and authentic life purpose arises from and is an expression of this Universal Love. This is also the ingredient that makes the life purpose Divinely Inspired.

Remember, it’s never too early or too late to bring clarity of purpose to your life. At Life On Purpose Institute we’ve helped people as young as ten and as old as eighty-three bring such clarity to their lives and in the process start in motion a very powerful force — serendipity on purpose.

Dark Soul, Night, Life on purpose process

In the early eighties, I was on the edge. I remember lying on the bathroom floor of my Greensboro apartment, clueless as to how I had ended up there, but knowing that I had to do something to stop the emotional pain I felt, but not knowing how. Suicide was looking like an attractive option.

I felt like I’d trashed my life, even though to all outward appearances I was living the Great American Dream. I was a small animal vet, had my own business, had invested in real estate with my brother, had a nice car, etc.

It all looked good on paper, but the truth was, I felt like my life had no real meaning. I’d wanted to be a vet since I was 7 years old, but here I was after 12 years in practice not knowing if I could stand going into the office for another day.

Reflecting back on that dark night of the soul, I realize now it was a case of mistaken identity. I’d misidentified my life purpose as my career as a vet. And no matter how much I did as a vet, it was never enough to fill the void I felt inside. It was like eating junk food. No matter how much junk food one eats, it’s never enough to fully nourish you because it’s missing some key ingredients. The same is true when you think what you do is your life purpose.

Now, here I am some 20-plus years later, loving my life, feeling a deep sense of purpose and connection. Yes, I love what I do as a coach, as the founder of Life On Purpose Institute, as a father, husband and volleyball player, but most of all I love who I am. I love experiencing the joy of being a Divine Spiritual Being who chooses to live an inspired and inspiring life of purposeful, passionate, and playful service; a life of mindful abundance balanced with simplicity; and spiritual serenity.

For the past 12 years, I’ve tried to consistently allow all of my life to be shaped by this greater context, and it has made all the difference. Oh, it’s not always been easy, and I ‘fail’ on a regular basis, but I do believe we live in a grace-filled universe where we’re allowed quite a few failures without it costing us joy and fulfillment.

The universe really is not fair. It’s wired up in our favor.  I am grateful that God saw fit to spare me back there on that bathroom floor. My life wasn’t over. In many ways, it had just begun. My life on purpose, that is.

life on purpose process, peace,

There is something that we all have that I personally feel is one of our most valued and cherished treasures. It’s peace of mind, and when I use that phrase, I also include peace of heart. I often refer to both as my spiritual serenity. I so value it that I’ve given it a revered position as the last thing I say in my life purpose statement:

My life on purpose is to live an inspired and inspiring life of purposeful, passionate and playful service, a life of mindful abundance balanced with simplicity, and SPIRITUAL SERENITY. There it is — ahhhhh. I often take a deep breath after saying that as a way to deepen my connection and awareness to this state of spiritual serenity, this peace of mind, this connection to the cosmic consciousness and creator of this incredible cosmos within which we live.

Is there anything more important than our peace of mind? Yet, how often do we trade something less for this most valued treasure? I walk into my daughter’s room in the morning to find her dog has chewed up another one of her shoes, and at that moment, I have a choice IF I choose to take it. Often I don’t take that moment of choice, but instead, operate in reaction mode. That d— dog! Why can’t Amber put away her shoes? Boy, did I do this when I put the dog in her room last night? On and on. Yet, the good news is that the moment of choice is still there. At any given moment, I can notice that I’ve sold out on my peace of mind, and in the next moment, I can trade back.

A deep breath and slowly let it out. I acknowledge the trade I have made, and I forgive myself. I take another deep breath, as I realize in the Big Picture of this incredible cosmos, a chewed shoe is just a chewed shoe, and hardly worth another moment of my peace of mind. I take one more deep breath for good measure, and I go about cleaning up the debris … And begin working on how I can break the news to Amber in a way to minimize the amount of peace of mind she may lose.

Peace of mind. Don’t leave home without it and don’t trade it for anything less than more of the same.

What Will Your Legacy Be?

Living a life on purpose may also include considering what you are prepared to leave behind. What do you want to be known for when you’re ‘gone?’ When you’re no longer in the business you’re in when you’re no longer in the ‘limelight’, what will people remember you for?

Consider this example, which comes from CBS’s Sunday Morning about J. M. Barrie, the author of ‘Peter Pan.’

When Jim Barrie wrote the Peter Pan, it became an instant sensation in print, on stage, and on the silent screen, and royalties came pouring into the author, who, although he loved children, had none of his own. So when he died, James Barrie left it all to one of the earliest pediatric hospitals in London, Great Ormond Street.

Over the decades, the royalties have continued to flow from remake after remake of the beloved tale. The money has helped keep Great Ormond Street on the cutting edge of pediatric care.

‘James Barrie gave his copyright to the hospital and it was the most generous gift anyone could have done,’ hospital spokesperson, Laura Redmond told Sunday Morning contributor Elizabeth Palmer as she pointed out the plaque in Barrie’s memory in the hospital chapel.’

Pretty amazing story, right? But it gets even better as the legacy continues. You see next year, the copyright on ‘Peter Pan’ runs out and so the royalties will dwindle. What to do? Well, the hospital organized a contest to find an author who could write the sequel to ‘Peter Pan’ and they found her in the form of Geraldine McCaughrean.

‘Of course when I got the job – oh, oh I’ve got to find time to write this book,’ she said. ‘I’ve got to really, really write the sequel to ‘Peter Pan,’ but luckily it just seized me by the heart and um, just swallowed me in.’

And so, J. M. Barrie’s legacy continues as Geraldine McCaughrean’s begins. What will be your legacy? How will your life purpose live beyond you?

Questions worth pondering, perhaps even as you bring further clarity of purpose to your life.

Business plan, working on life, Life On Purpose Process

“Our first challenge is to answer the question, ‘How should I spend my energy in a way that is consistent with my deepest values?’ The consequence of living our lives at warp speed is that we rarely take the time to reflect on what we value most deeply or to keep these priorities front and center. Most of us spend more time reacting to the immediate crisis and responding to the expectations of others than we do making considered choices guided by a clear sense of what matters most.” Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in The Power of Full Engagement

One of my favorite business distinctions that originally came from Michael Gerber of E-Myth fame is captured in the question, “Are you spending all your time working in your business so you have no time to work on your business?” By working with this distinction between working in a business vs. working on the business for a number of years with my clients, I realized that much the same is true in our personal lives.

Are you spending so much time caught up in the busyness of your life that you devote little or no time working on your life? As the quote from Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz points out, most of us spend time in reaction mode to the circumstances around us and what others expect from us. We’re all too familiar with what it means to be caught up in the busyness of our lives, but what does ‘working on our lives’ look like? Well, here are a few examples.

Design Your Year

Over 10 years ago, Ann and I decided to devote time at the end of our year to design what we wanted our next year to be like. We started with a popular coaching tool known as the Wheel of Life exercise and then looked at each area of life in detail. It worked so well that we vowed to continue it each year. Spending quality time with your loved ones envisioning what you want in your life is highly leveraged ‘working on your life’ time.

Weekly or Monthly ‘Life Meetings’

Once you have a plan for your year, it’s important to schedule time throughout the year to be sure the plan is being implemented. These weekly or monthly ‘life meetings’ will help you stay on track as well as helping to keep your vision for that year in your awareness. The more aware you are of your vision the more easily you attract all the resources to you that you need for the vision to become real.

Working with a Life Coach

I truly believe that one of the reasons life coaching is growing in popularity is that being in such a coaching relationship ‘compels’ us to carve out time to work on our lives. This is highly leveraged time because not only are you focusing on your life, you are doing so with an experienced coach who can assist you to stay focused and on track.

Group coaching can be another powerful structure for fulfillment, in that you bring the combined energy of an aligned group to bear. That’s one of the reasons I included the Group Coaching Telegatherings into the Life On Purpose Community structure. I’ve witnessed through the years the incredible added power that working in a group setting provides. Besides, traveling along the Purposeful Path with others is a lot more fun. 🙂

Clarify Your True Purpose

As Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz point out in their book, The Power of Full Engagement, “Connecting to a deep set of values and creating a compelling vision fuels a uniquely high-octane source of energy for change. It also serves as a compass for navigating the storms that inevitably arise in our lives.” Not surprising, one’s core values and vision for what’s possible are two of the key ingredients that make up a life purpose, so one of the highest leveraged activities you can do is to invest the time in becoming crystal clear about your true life purpose.

Significant Transitions Start with Significant Transformations

Designing your life to be a true and consistent reflection of your true life purpose is a significant transition that can often take 1 to 3 years or longer. But the journey becomes much easier when it starts with an inner transformation. In fact, I believe all truly great transitions that really work and flow with relative ease and grace start with an inner transformation, like the transformation of becoming clear about your life purpose and also uncovering the ‘saboteur’ of your Inherited Purpose that often keeps us from living on purpose.

Problems, life on purpose process

Somewhere along the road of life, I received an e-mail from a friend talking about the value of problems; that it is from problems that we grow. In looking at my own life and at the lives of those around me, I see it is indeed true sometimes our greatest growth and evolving occurs during difficult or challenging times. I also see the possibility of growth and development without the need of having problems.

For example:

Several years ago, upon realizing that I no longer was tied to my veterinary practice (I had sold it to pursue a career as a writer, coach, and speaker), my wife, Ann and I began exploring where we might live, since what I now do allows me to live virtually anywhere.

It was a wonderful searching process, in part because it didn’t stem from any problem — ie, there was nothing wrong with where we were living. We loved it in Greensboro NC. No complaints, just a possibility.

From that search, we ended up moving to the “Paradise Found” (for us) of Flat Rock, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The move was an amazing experience and a lesson in growth NOT stemming from a problem.

While I imagine most of us will always have an ample number of problems to use as fuel for growth and development perhaps, from time, we might choose to grow and evolve in really wonderful ways without the need of a problem to serve as the seed for that change. I realize that, as a culture, we are fascinated by the idea of right and wrong, good and bad, problems and solutions. Living in this mostly black and white world, it’s very easy to think that there’s always something wrong that needs to be fixed. Something wrong about ourselves, or about others, or about the general condition of life itself. But realizing that this is a pervasive way of thinking of our culture then makes it possible for us to think in new ways.

Thinking of what is possible becomes available when we first acknowledge and own that we rarely ever think from possibility. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes come from Alice in Wonderland:

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

What if possibility and impossibility were simply two sides of the same coin? What impossible notions might you have on your own life today, not from a need to fix something, not from some problem, or even from a challenging situation, but instead from the realm of pure possibility?

For example, if you could indulge yourself for a moment to consider that your job or career is perfect just the way it gets, nothing that needs to be fixed or changed, then want might be possible just for the pure joy of it.

Management, Balance Sheet,

Most people realize the importance of regularly checking their financial balance sheet, whether it’s in their business or personal life, but how many of us maintain and check our energy balance sheet? I suggest it may be at least as valuable as the financial one.

Here’s how to do it:

Observe and record for at least one week what drains your energy and what adds to your energy and well-being. Energy drainers are often those stress-producing attitudes and reactions to daily occurrences, while energy boosters are the energy-accumulating attitudes and responses.

Notice that you’re looking more at your reaction and responses to situations rather than the situations themselves, although you may find certain patterns and situation/reaction combos where a certain situation invariably and consistently leads to a reaction or response.

For example, sustained loud noise may consistently lead to an outburst of anger, while walking around in nature may consistently lead to a sense of peace and well-being.

As you pinpoint each deficit go to your heart center and ask how to turn that deficit into an asset. Commit to taking action on at least one deficit each week. Before you know it, you’ll experience a rejuvenation of energy that you can then apply to your life — your life on purpose.

Business Deal, Handshake, Life on purpose process

‘The primary purpose of an organization is not to make a profit. It is to help human beings grow, express their creativity, contribute their life-source and make the world a better place. The purpose of an organization is to inspire the soul.’ Leadership expert and Fortune 500 Business Consultant, Lance Secretan What does it mean to build a Business On Purpose? What role does a person’s life purpose have to do with building a business?

Let’s start with a visual metaphor. Have you ever seen a skyscraper being built? If so, you may have noticed that it often takes weeks, or months after constructions starts before any construction is visible above ground. That’s because it’s important the building be built upon a solid foundation, and the same is true for a Business On Purpose. In this case, the foundation is clarity of purpose, which is made up of 3 components:

** Being crystal clear about you true, divinely inspired purpose

** Knowing and recognizing what shapes your life when it’s not being shaped by your true purpose

** Committing to designing a life that is a reflection of your true purpose

Just a few quick purposeful pointers on these. Remember, from the Life On Purpose Perspective your life purpose isn’t about what you ‘DO’ but is more of who you are as a spiritual being and what you came here to experience. Once you really tap into this overarching meaning for your life, it has the power to shape and form all of your life, which includes all that you do. Then the doing, like work, becomes your way of expressing who you are.

What often keeps people from really tapping into this power of purpose, is the ‘fear, lack and struggling to make it’ force that I call the Inherited Purpose. That’s why it’s so important to uncover your Inherited Purpose so you can see it as it’s beginning to shape your life and can be responsible for it and not have it bump you off purpose.

When you do, you can authentically commit to designing your life to be a reflection of your true purpose, including at work. So, this is the foundation upon which a Business On Purpose is built. And since a key ingredient of one’s true, divinely inspired life purpose is Universal Love, when you design your business on purpose, you end up loving your work, which often attracts other people who want to share in that love. Why? Well, as we’ll learn in the next installment of this series when you know your life purpose with crystal clarity, you have the means to tap into a wellspring of passion. So, stay tuned. In the meantime, let me ask you a couple of questions.
Q: When you look at your experience at your place of business with the notion that your work is either being shaped by your true purpose which is founded in Universal Love, or it’s shaped by your Inherited Purpose which is based in fear/lack struggle, what do you feel is shaping most of your work life?
Q: If you knew your true purpose with crystal clarity, and also were able to recognize when your Inherited Purpose was shaping your life, what difference do you feel this could make in your experience at work this next week?

Patience & Persistence ,Spider

“Purposeful Patience & Persistence: The process of staying on purpose and balancing the realization that bringing a new level of purposeful living into your life takes time, and at the same time staying persistently inaction towards the fulfillment of your Purpose Projects.” ~~ From Life On Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life by Dr. Brad Swift

I recently had a new client come to a coaching call frustrated with herself for not having been more on purpose since clarifying her life purpose during a Living & Working On Purpose Retreat that her place of business had sponsored for their employees.

“I know how valuable the work we did was, and I just don’t want to lose it, but over the past few weeks I feel it slipping away,” she shared, and I could hear the anxiety and frustration in her voice.

I asked her, “How old are you?” To which she replied, “27.”

“And how much of those 27 years would you say the fear, lack, and struggle of your Inherited Purpose has shaped much of those years?

“Probably about 25 years,” she replied.

“And how long have you been clear about your life purpose and your Inherited Purpose?”

“About a month,” she replied a bit sheepishly.

“Then, do you think you could give yourself a break? You’re just now beginning the process of designing your life to be a reflection of your true purpose. It takes some time and continual dedication.”

And this is where the Power Tool for Living On Purpose of Purposeful Patience and Persistence can pay big dividends. Here’s the definition of this power tool: The process of staying on purpose and balancing the realization that bringing a new level of purposeful living into your life takes time, and at the same time staying persistently inaction towards the fulfillment of your Purpose Projects.

I can understand my client’s frustration. It’s a factor of our culture that says we should have everything immediately if not sooner. But becoming masterful at living on purpose takes time. As George Leonard writes in his classic, Mastery: the Keys to Success and Long-term Fulfillment: “The modern world can be viewed as a prodigious conspiracy against mastery. We’re continually bombarded with promises of immediate gratification, instant success, and fast, temporary relief, all of which leads in exactly the wrong direction.” That is, away from the path of mastery.”

So, for all of you traveling along the Purposeful Path, whether you are using the Life On Purpose Process as your roadmap or not, please ‘GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK.’ Practice a little purposeful patience and persistence, and love yourself along the way.

Professional Burn Out, Life on purpose process

Even though I had wanted to be a veterinarian since I was 7-years old, after 12 years in practice, I found myself at the point I didn’t know if I could stand another day in the office. I was frustrated, tired and worn out by the constant stresses of practice that included staffing headaches, client turnover, and financial strains. On top of it all, the stresses at work were having a profoundly negative influence on my personal life.

I felt disjointed and disconnected from those I most cared about. My life was out of balance and nearly out of control. The pain of burnout became so bad that I started abusing alcohol and drugs in an effort to numb myself so I could make it through another day. I even contemplated suicide before I finally woke up and realized the practice of veterinary medicine didn’t have to be so hard and unrewarding. In fact, life itself didn’t need to be such a struggle. It was at that point I finally sought help, and with that help, I turned, not only my practice around, but also my life.

The 4 Facets of Burn Out

Professional burn out is a growing concern in many business settings. There’s no question that work offers many challenges that can leave the most dedicated person as burned out like an overcooked French fry. National statistics suggest that many people are being adversely affected by the stresses of their jobs.

According to data collected by the Gallup Organization in 2001, less than 30 percent of American workers are fully engaged at work, and 55 percent are “not engaged,” while another 19 percent are “actively disengaged,” meaning not just that they are unhappy at work, but they are regularly sharing those feelings with their colleagues.

These statistics suggest to me that at least 1 out of every 5 people at work is in some advanced stage of burnout. Burn out is a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual shut down and exhaustion usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. It’s like trying to run a car with a dead battery, with no water or oil in the engine, and no fuel in the tank. Let’s look closer at the four inter-related facets of burnout.

In a state of burnout, you are often physically exhausted and frequently overwhelmed by work and life in general, which complicates matters because it increases the chances of stress-related illnesses. Mentally, you may experience confusion, a lack of clarity and often an overall negative attitude. Emotionally, you may become depressed, frustrated, resigned, fearful and angry, while spiritually you feel disconnected, empty, wondering if this is all there is to life.

You can think of each of these four facets of burnout as a different colored string, with the four strands wound together in a tangled gnarl. The question is where do you start to unravel the knot of professional burnout. Here are a few strategies that others have found to be effective.

Physical, Mental and Emotional Exhaustion

A typical sign that you’re in this stage is that there’s simply nothing left of you at the end of the day.  You’re used up, finding yourself vegged out in front of the TV, perhaps with a bowl of your favorite ice cream or a couple of beers.  You’re suffering from a case of “brain strain” and it’s beginning to show in your work, and in your self-esteem.

Shame and Doubt

In this next stage you begin to doubt yourself, second-guessing your choices and decisions.  You may even begin to think that you chose the wrong line of work.  As Gorkin says, “You’re not feeling confident about the future; and you’re feeling pretty lousy in the present. Not surprisingly, you may even start discounting your past accomplishments. Beware…This is not a logical process; it’s a psychological one.” Left unchecked, this stage can quickly devolve into the third phase.

Cynicism and Callousness

In this stage people often develop an “attitude” as a way to protect themselves from others.  By developing an abrasive or obnoxious attitude, you train people to avoid you. Unfortunately, some of the people who end up avoiding you can be your staff members and your clients.  Again, this is not a sound strategy for growing a successful business.

Failure, Helplessness and Crisis

In this final stage, you find yourself in a “Catch-22” of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” You’ve been trying to win a marathon by running full out the whole way, and you now find yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally burned out.

If you find yourself heading down this path to burnout, there are some simple and effective strategies you can use to start yourself on the road to recovery.

S. T. O. P.

S. T. O. P. is an acronym for a powerful strategy that can be used in stressful situations, and that can help you prevent or recover from burnout. The steps are:

S ¬ Step Back

T ¬ Think

O ¬ Organize your thoughts

P ¬ Proceed

Taking such STOPS on a regular basis gives you the opportunity to recover from the stresses that build up at work

Ignite Your Passion Through Purpose

Schedule a weekend or longer STOP devoted to getting back in touch with your purpose for going into practice in the first place. Look beyond just he financial motivation.  Look deeper to see how practice is consistent with your core values

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Many practitioners aren’t naturally skilled at delegating and end up trying to do everything, including a lot of the details like paper work, scheduling, payroll, etc.  Make a list of the detail work that you find unpleasant, and then either delegate it to one of your employees or hire a new person to take it over.

Seek Assistance and Support

Don’t try to be ‘Macho Man’ or “Super Woman.”  Reach out for support either in the form of a trusted friend, personal coach, or therapist.  Burn out is not something to take lightly.  It can be a killer.  Treat it with respect by seeking assistance.

Burnout is not something to ignore. It can have devastating effects on your life and those around you, and as with many things, becoming aware of the issue is the first step to rekindling your life.

 

Life on purpose process, Sweet Spot, Heart And Soul, Carolina

I realized this morning that over the past few years, ever since moving to the mountains of North Carolina, I’ve surrounded myself with special places; places that nurture my heart and soul.  I had this thought while enjoying one of these places, the deck of my home which extends around the second story and gives a tranquil view of our front yard including the creek that meanders its way through our property.

Most people might not think of a deck as a special spiritual spot, but I do.  Especially when I remember back to the deck in Greensboro, that also overlooked a meandering stream.  That deck and stream received very little of my attention because I was too busy working at my veterinary practice to pay for it, but this one is my second office during much of the year.

But it’s more than just an office.  I start most of my days in quiet reflection and meditation on this deck, arising early so I can enjoy the tranquil awakening of the day and the mild temperatures left over from the mountain night.  Those early mornings are precious food for my soul, and a much better way to awaken then punching a snooze alarm over and over.

After an hour or so on my deck my dog, Maggie McGee, and I often go to Bonclarken Lake just a stone throw from my home.  Bonclarken is a retreat center across the street, and they’ve been nice enough to provide me with a beautiful lake, complete with a jogging track around it.  There I continue my time of quiet reflection with a walking meditation as I create my day and who I will be for the day.  It goes something like this:

Good morning Mother-Father God, Infinite Universe.  I come at this moment to co-create who I am and that who I am is who I say I am into the listening of the Universe.  And who I say I am is the possibility of all people living purposeful, passionate lives of service, mindful and abundant simplicity and spiritual serenity.   This is who I am.

And I rest knowing that as I live true to this purpose I’ve said myself to be, the entire Universe provides amply, abundantly and in perfect timing all the resources necessary for the ongoing expression and fulfillment of this purpose. My job, first and foremost, continues to live true to this purpose I’ve said myself to be.  In so doing, I become a magnetizing force attracting to me all the necessary resources.

I am also creative and innovative in identifying and recognizing all these resources in all their many different forms.

Once recognized, I utilized the resources wisely and mindfully in the ongoing expression and fulfillment of this life purpose and through this purpose the Divine plan and design of the Universe.

It’s never quite the same but that’s the jest of it.  It’s usually fairly easy to get in touch with the magnificence of being alive walking around Bonclarken Lake.  I’m often kept company by a flock of Canadian geese, or a turtle or two sticking their head out of the water, or Maggie will scare up a rabbit to chase through the tall grass in the nearby field.  A few days ago I Blue Herring visited the lake.  Such companionship makes it hard to stay stuck in most daily worries for long.

But on those rare occasions that I do get stuck in worry, survival mode, I have one other special place — Jump Off Rock.  It’s not quite as close as my deck or the lake, but it’s well worth the short drive up Laurel Mountain.  There, at the end of a concrete highway that was built during Roosevelt’s presidency, is a small park with a breathtaking view of three states; North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.