PART 1 - In the Driver's Seat


By Karin Leonard

No doubt our lives are busier and more complex than ever in human history. Moreover, technology and science are far ahead of our spiritual and moral development. Just take the example of human cloning becoming a possibility sooner than anyone estimated (no worries, I’m not going much further along this track…). This article and the next one will explore ways to stay centered and in integrity with what we most value, even in the middle of chaos and confusion.


Leading a principle-centered life means giving up blame and playing “poor me”, and taking full responsibility for our lives. This may sound pretty straight forward, yet it is quite challenging to do consistently. Sometimes it is just more comfortable and convenient to blame someone else, or circumstances for the shape our life is in: “ … if my parents had only raised me differently…if it wasn’t for my husband…it’s the government’s fault…the economy is bad…it’s going to rain. “ This may all be true enough, yet to the degree in which we make our success and happiness dependent on other people, we’re limiting our freedom of choice, and the opportunity to fulfill our dreams. We’re not able to change the past, but we choose whether we’re full of resentment about what the world has done to us – or whether we seize the unlimited potential that lies dormant within us.

Experiment with taking responsibility in all aspects of your life. Not false, guilty, codependent responsibility for other people, but an overall gracious acceptance of the full scope of your life, and its implications. Not a useless and frustrating “what have I done -- I’m a failure”, but a powerful decision to hold the reins to your destiny.


As we move into the driver’s seat of our life, we increasingly determine the “what” and “why” of our existence. A sense of purpose or a personal mission brings passion and pizzazz into our day. Clarity of purpose eases decision making, as we evaluate multiple options against our values and goals. The meaning we attribute to our lives helps us to navigate through the daily currents. Purpose gives us transcendence -- something greater than our limited ego. 

Having a personal mission is a thread that runs through everything we do - and shapes who we are. A great way to anchor our purpose is through a personal mission statement. This sums up the essence of who we are in the world. Personal Mission statements range from simple one liners like “my purpose is to self-express joyfully”, or “…to make a difference in the world”, to complex guidelines for multimillion dollar companies.

A broader purpose has the advantage of applying to all areas of life. Some people write a detailed mission statement, and then sum it up with one easily remembered sentence. What matters is that it works for you, and gives you a sense of clarity in maneuvering through life, letting you know whether you’re on track. A good way to start is by listing your past accomplishments, talents and what you love to do. Notice what all these items have in common. Let’s say you have done some major mountain climbing, you’re great at playing the stock market, and you love to be spontaneous. Your overall purpose might be “…to live life as an adventure”.

As you define your purpose, use your head - but trust your heart. The statement you design has to click for you - does it give you a sense of being at peace with yourself? Is it motivating you to move forward in your life, and does it fill you with excitement? Give yourself time to discover a statement that increases your passion for life, then read it often, live it and adjust it as you change and grow.



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