Back to Basics: Where Purpose Meets Practice, Part 1
by Diane Rogers
I’ve always thought of autumn as a kind of January first—a fresh start ushered in on the arm of a shiny new lunch box accompanied by the smell of shoe polish. At the sight of yellow school buses and fall fashions, my focus shifts from the freedom of summer to structure and regimented output. Unfortunately, my creative beast is unruly. She thinks vacation should last forever.
And why wouldn’t she?
There is nothing remotely routine about my life. The majority of my days involve traipsing after a thrill-seeking Australian whose retirement agenda involves multifarious forms of adventure and global gallivanting. My hubby’s need for excitement means my feet are seldom in the same location for more than a few months. When I’m not hoisting sails on a boat in the Mediterranean, you’ll find me hefting myself onto the back of a motor scooter, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, riding a camel in Morocco, or skydiving on one of Australia’s spectacular beaches. And that’s before breakfast. Fortunately, I have roots in the OC where I can catch my breath and regroup.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining; I’m just illustrating how life changes in unpredictable ways.
You see, I had quieter notions for retirement. After 30 years in the IT industry working as a business transformation and change management strategist (AKA corporate shrink), my third act goals included writing a book series, running workshops, and generally putting my PhD in psychology and coaching experience to work on a smaller scale. The last thing I expected to be in my early 50’s was a remarried, retired, planet roamer.
But, as they say, God laughs when we make plans.
In every endeavor, our individual psychology contributes to our well-being. When plans change, we must rise to the challenge. Luckily, The Write Mind is your inspirational pocket guru, here with tips, techniques, and strategies for managing the psychological challenges all creative souls face from time to time.
Get Back to Basics
In my experience, the heart of any effective habit begins with self-awareness.
A few years ago, I found myself at odds with my husband. My inky aspirations—the need for solitary BIC (bum-in-chair) time—made him feel pushed aside. He didn’t understand why I spent days behind closed doors. Wasn’t I retired? he asked. Shouldn’t we be out having fun together? Something had to change. Hoping to clarify the core issue, I got back to basics and revisited several effectiveness tools I’d used with former clients.
Even if your literary practice is flourishing, the following exercise can be beneficial when you take on a new project.
Know Your Purpose
Identify the driving force behind your passion. Understanding what motivates you as a writer provides insight into the things that fulfill and inspire you.
Knowing why you write—your literary purpose—clarifies the function writing plays in your life, and enables you to build practices that support it. Whether your objective is income or personal satisfaction, an explicit statement of intention cements the foundation of a rich and sustainable creative practice.
Perhaps you write for enjoyment, personal growth, catharsis, to fill a void, a sense of achievement, or to inspire others. Maybe you write for supplementary income or to launch a future career. It could be you find purpose in sharing your personal experiences or professional expertise. You may write for personal esteem. Expressions of literary purpose are many and varied. Moreover, purpose isn’t static. Like our lives, motivations change and evolve. There is not one best answer.
Refer to the above examples as you complete the following sentence. Simplify your statement and keep your focus in the present.
My literary purpose (what motivates me to write) is ______________________________.
My literary purpose is to express my creativity, have fun, and help others.
When I examined my purpose, I discovered the wellspring of misalignment. From my husband’s perspective, the royalties I earned represented more than the occasional dinner out, but could hardly be classed as a wage. He wanted to be supportive but, to be fair, writing wasn’t a job. What’s more, “income” didn’t feature in my literary purpose.
Completing this exercise helped me realize my creative desires had morphed into ambition which—although useful in my former career—was incompatible with my present lifestyle. My actions and intentions were out of sync, thus the rub.
Next time you find yourself “stuck” or at loggerheads with your literary work, revisit your purpose statement. Doing so will help ensure you find ways to revitalize your practice—whatever that looks like for you.
Next month we examine the ways in which purpose plays a role in priorities and how understanding yours can help you achieve balance.
What did you find helpful about the purpose exercise? Have you tried other methods for realigning your purpose and literary practice? Ask your questions in the comments!
After retiring from a corporate career in business transformation and change management, Dr. Diane Rogers brings her expertise in social psychology to classrooms and families.
Her first picture book, Stand Tall, made its debut at the 2008 Seeds of Compassion Conference in Seattle, Washington featuring His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. A week after the book’s release, the State of Washington selected Stand Tall as an official teaching resource for compassionate education. Diane’s other published works include Emerge, A Story of Confidence, and When We All Stand Tall (available September 2016). To find out more, visit www.drdianerogers.com.
A self-professed global nomad, when they aren’t traveling on or jumping out of planes, Diane and her husband Kevin triangulate between Sydney, Australia, Newport Beach, and their sailboat in the Mediterranean.
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