We get more done when our alignment extends from purpose all the way through action. We get clearly in touch with our sense of our purpose. We develop a vision in line with our purpose. We set goals that will get us to our visions. We make action plans to achieve our goals. We capture the actions in a system of productivity and we track those actions and continually update and adjust our plans.
One way to tell whether something is an action, goal, vision or purpose is to plot them along the axes of time and change. Purpose takes a lifetime to achieve and may not change at all over that time. Plans change all the time and may have a time horizon as short as a few hours or days.
What is your purpose. Complete the following sentence: ‘My purpose is to (insert one verb)’. For me that one verb is communicate. That is my purpose. I have innate skills to achieve that purpose. I am happiest and most engaged when I am doing something in that area and least fulfilled when I have strayed far afield. Communication is a very big domain and I have done a wide range of things that fit into my purpose and have been extremely satisfying. I have been a radio DJ, worked in broadcast television. I have been a corporate trainer leading sessions on everything from computer skills to sales to leadership and time management. I have designed online training programs in customer service and the prevention of workplace harassment. I have prepared financial reports for publication and made many presentations on financial metrics. As a non-denominational minister, I have performed wedding ceremonies and counseled couples preparing for marriage. I have written blogs on social satire and personal productivity. I am an amateur musician and photographer. I am a father and a husband. All of those are within my purpose. The extent to which I was successful communicating within each of those roles determined my effectiveness, success and satisfaction.
Vision is how do you want to apply your purpose to the world over the next major section of your life. If Purpose is the Why, Vision is the Why Now. My Purpose is Communication. My Vision, currently is the creation and delivery high quality, heart centered materials to aid others in attaining their own goals through increased productivity and wellness.
Purpose and Vision have a longer time horizons and undergo little or no change over time. Qualities like intention, inspiration, aspiration would apply.
Goals are the specific outcomes which, when achieved, are the manifestation of your vision. Some of my current goals include building my consulting practice to reach more people, adding useful content to this blog, getting publicity for my writing, workshops and coaching, selling the apartment in which I live so my wife and I can move into a larger one, learning to play jazz guitar and being of service in my community. If Vision is Why Now, Goals are the What.
Projects get us to our goals, they are the How. They involve a clear definition of outcome in a specific time line. They should end and we should be able to tell discreetly what that ending is. Not that they have expiration dates, but we can begin them, work each step of the way, modifying as needed in the face of new information, obstacles etc, and end them. We end them so we can start new ones. Some of my current projects include developing marketing materials, preparing for a workshop on De-Cluttering at a local Holistic Health Expo, facilitating a class on the history of spiritual leadership, selling the contents of an apartment I have listed for sale, serving a two-year term on the board of a non-denominational spiritual organization, completing my tax return for 2012, handling paperwork for the estate of my mother, organizing storage for my college aged daughter’s dorm room contents for the summer. Notice that when you get to the level of projects, not everything we do is aligned with a Goal or Vision, but it is still aligned with our roles within our Purpose; even if it is just as a form of maintenance. We keep our projects moving through our actions and we keep our actions on purpose through a system of self management that captures all of our actions in a place where we can review, adjust, focus and track.
Goals and Projects have shorter time horizons and encounter more change. Qualities like attention, adjustment, completion and acknowledgement would apply.
I find I am most engaged and effective in my life when I am getting actions lined up and completed within the projects to which I am committed in line with my goals, vision and purpose.