Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Exploring my Purpose and Impact

I spent a good chunk of time last week (in between ER visits - see last post), writing a post for an intriguing website called Dare to Dream. I haven't taken the time to stop and really think about what I'm doing and why for a LONG time. It seems that my life is so full of things that need to be done, right here, right now, that I don't often stop and think about the big picture, the WHY of what I'm doing. After working on this guest post and having Whitney Johnson who runs Dare to Dream ask me some great probing questions, I think I've come to understand my "purpose" at this time in my life on a deeper level - and I feel better about my life than I have in a long time. (If you want to read my post on Dare to Dream, click here.)

I think that it's so important for all of us to somehow carve out time in our busy lives to ponder the question - "Why am I doing what I do?" And to take things a step further, we can think about "Who cares about what I do?" Having a strong sense of PURPOSE and searching out our IMPACT here and there can really add to our satisfaction with our lives - and spur us forward on the things that we really care about - while helping us marginalize or drop some of the things we realize aren't really central to our purpose and don't seem to be having much of an impact.

My education and career path has been somewhat schizophrenic - I've dashed off in different directions towards lofty and seemingly very altruistic desires to change the the world in a variety of ways. In looking back, at first glance, all my efforts seem to have amounted to very little. I haven't done anything that made a big spash. But small drops of good things can result in ripple effects that do change the world - one kid, one mom, one family, one classroom at a time.

Sometimes it's hard to see where we're making a difference. But if we look for evidence of our impact, we'll find it.

I know I've made a big difference to my husband and children and eight younger siblings - the things they say, the choices they make, their hugs, the whisperings in my heart confirm this for me.

I know I've made at least a little difference to the kids in my kids' classes who hug me whenever they see me and to the girls my young women's class at church who told me they wanted me to be at their weddings some day.

I made a difference to quite a few women who touched my lives as I touched theirs when I was Relief Society President back in San Jose and to some moms who've written great comments on my blog or on The Power of Moms.

I made a difference to some neighbors who've told me how grateful they are to feel connected now thanks to the pool party I put together last month and an older lady I helped across the parking lot the other day.... And I'm sure there are many more lives I've touched that I don't know about.

Just writing these things fills my heart with joy. It's the individuals you help and learn from that really make you feel you're fulfilling a purpose that matters. And sometimes it's important to go ahead and list out evidence of where you've made a difference - we all need to feel validated and to see ourselves fulfilling our purpose - even if it's just in drips here and there - they all add up.

What is your purpose in this particular season of your life? Maybe you know your overall purpose - but how does what you're doing now fit into your overall purpose? Are there things you can uniquely do now in your life that you won't be able to do later? Are there things you're trying to do now that maybe don't make sense for this season of your life? Are there things that feel pointless that can be dropped? I answered some of these questions in my post on Dare to Dream and it was a good journey for me to really think about this stuff. I wanted to offer you the same sort of journey through these questions - and I challenge you to find a few minutes to start this journey - it's hard but it's worth it. And if you answer some of these questions and end up writing something you'd like to share - please submit it to The Power of Moms!


Mary Croxford said...

Oh Saren, what a wonderful post and some great questions to ponder and ask myself. I met your parents at a parenting fireside they were doing a few months ago. I am a mother of 7 childre with 4 of them 3 and under! Your parents mentioned you to me thinking that you would be able to relate to some of my feelings I have in mothering so many young people at once! Boy I thought I had so much more figured out on being a mother since I had already raised 3 older children (two are married now) but now rearing so many young ones has definately reinforced the idea in my mind that I have much to learn! I wouldn't trade places with anyone and absolutely love each of my children to pieces however, I do feel like much of the time I am barely treading water and struggling to keep up with the never ending demands of babyhood/toddlerhood! Thank goodness those demands come with rewards that keep me buoyed when I feel certain I am about to sink!

Grandmotheringbook.com said...

Oh, I just asked for pictures because I couldn't get online to see the blogs. I see that Eliza doesn't look quite as "injured" as I thought! What a week!

Grandmotheringbook.com said...

I was almost out of minutes when I posted this last comment and thought I was posting on the "injuries" blog. This entry is terrific. We all need to take stock more often and think about our long term goals and purpose. You got me thinking. thanks!

April Perry said...

I hope you know you have truly made a difference in MY life! I look up to you in so many ways, and I catch myself several times each week doing something nicer for my family because "I bet Saren does it this way." You are a great example, a thoughtful friend, and an amazing mother. I'm excited to read your post on Dare to Dream!


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