A Purpose-Filled Life, first came out (how many years ago?), I bought the hard cover and read it right to the end. What stayed with me more than his overall content, however, was simply the concept -- that we can live a life devoted to our purpose, and that we all have one.
What I've learned since is that when you resist accepting your purpose, when you ignore it, it won't let you. It keeps coming back to you in ways that can seem downright annoying. For example, it'll distract you or make you procrastinate on projects that have little bearing on your purpose. It's trying to tell you something very important: We're wasting daylight here. Get on with your purpose, already!
It's just best to follow the command when it first begins to make its appearance. Otherwise, you can expect further annoyances -- and failures that will make you doubt who you are. That's because you're not behaving like the you that you really are or were meant to be.
Ideally, you would perk up and listen, then act immediately, right? But, hey, we live in an imperfect world where we make mistakes. At the time his book came out, I was on to my purpose. I had him in sight. I was ready to reel him in and get cooking. But some time after 2010, I let it go. Poof! Just like that.
I got scared. I feared failure. I questioned myself: What if I can't make this work? What if no one wants to hear my story? I don't know what I'm doing!!!
But in the back of my mind, I still believed in my story. I still believed in the message. I still believed I had what it would take to deliver it. And I had all the encouragers I could possibly need. My purpose should have been ready to roll.
But I wasn't. I kept letting ego get in the way.
Even though I had given myself the opportunity to practice my purpose -- to prove myself -- I was looking for approval from the outside, not from within. In order to live a life with purpose, I have come to realize, it doesn't matter what other people believe. It matters only what you believe. Your purpose comes from within you. It's part of who you are. Based on your life experiences, yes. Based on how you respond to them, yes. Based on a host of other things that have little to do with them but everything to do with you and your spiritual connection with the world. Now, Rick Warren says it's not about you. But I'm certain it has to be about you in the sense that you have to come to believe and accept your purpose. If you don't embrace it, you're not going to live it. Trust me on that. That means, whether you live out your purpose or not rests on your shoulders, not anyone else's. All the amount of encouragement -- or discouragement -- you get from anyone else won't matter.
Ultimately, the responsibility rests on your hands, your shoulders, your action.
It's your purpose and your life, and no one else can live that out for you.
Still, we're in the habit of seeking outside approval, aren't we? From our parents. From our religious leaders. From our friends. From others we mistakenly think might have a say. We do it out of habit and don't even realize that we have all the answers we need within. We just need to listen or pay attention, and then act on it.
That's what my BIKE work was all about. I still believe in the philosophy. I still live it. Now I'm ready to teach it again, but this time to teach it outside the safe confines of this blog or the volunteer work that I've done, or the commercial venues that weren't going to allow me to grow my purpose financially, because they were the wrong venues.
I'm ready to put the package together that will be directed at the right venues, the right market, the right people...people like you who want to be inspired to take positive action for yourself.
If you've been around long enough, you know I've been thinking about this for a while now, and I was thinking I needed to move away from the BIKE. I didn't feel I was clear enough on the message. I thought it was too cumbersome. But that wasn't true. That was my internal struggle talking.
If you're wondering what took me out of the struggle, it's simple. For some reason, I was drawn to the right article at the right time, and that article led me to a person I needed to meet. I found the courage inside of me to introduce myself via an email. I asked for his help (though he didn't know he was helping me, really). And he responded in the way I'd hoped. He said yes, inviting me to speak to his class.
Simple, yes? Well, yes and no. You have to be open to the opportunity. You have to seek it out. You have to be ready to accept the help. And, thankfully, I was.
And then a miracle happened. At least, it felt like a miracle to me. His students responded...not only to the topic I showed up to speak about -- writing travel guides -- but they also wanted to know about my BIKE. This BIKE. The one you come here to read about. The one I'd set aside as a lost cause. And they weren't the only ones. A few days before that, I'd met a woman who wanted to know more as well. One curious inquiry is good. But two or more in the same week? That's not encouragement. That's a sign. And I'm a big believer in signs. The whole BIKE story wouldn't exist with a sign, without a spiritual force guiding me exactly where I needed to go. Yes, I believe in signs -- especially since I hadn't given a BIKE presentation at all in at least a year. I hadn't written much about it, either. I had basically tossed it to the ground, as if I were fed up with it. I wasn't, but I was afraid.
And that fear caused me to redirect myself in the WRONG direction.
That's so annoying.
Turns out this class was acting as the Universe, pushing me when I didn't even know I needed the push. The Universe has known all along what I'm supposed to be doing. And deep down inside of me I knew, too. That's why I was drawn to this instructor. That's why I asked him if I could speak to his class. That's why he said yes. And that's why I'm posting this message today. My glorious God who runs my Universe told me to get back on the seat of my bike and ride. Dammit!
Ride, Jackie ride!
So this is me, embracing the moniker someone gave to me when I first started talking about the BIKE acronym. They called me the BIKE LADY, and they wanted to hear my story. Who am I to deny them? After all, my natural affinity is to inspire people. I've done it all my life without knowing it. Not every single, teenage mom finishes high school or graduates from college as I did. Not every young widow knows how to provide a safe and secure home for her children who are grieving the loss of a second dad, as I did. And not every ex-wife can take the lessons she learned because of a cheating husband and spin them into a positive message like I did -- the one you're reading here. Not every woman comes out of chaos still smiling because she knows how to connect with her inner joy. But I do.
The lessons I've learned from the abuses I've experienced in life, and from the tragedies as well as the triumphs, are lessons that other people can learn from. We are not perfect human beings. We are not exempt from making mistakes, big ones that will affect our lives long-term. But we are capable of learning from our imperfections so that we can do a better job next time around. And that's what my BIKE gives us the opportunity to do -- to get the do-overs.
This is my purpose -- to teach the lessons I have learned so that others behind me can find their own understanding, their own forgiveness, their own joyful life.
I have arrived in the great state of TRUST, where I can trust in the Universe and what the Universe has entrusted me to do. It's that simple.
And if I read your comments over, I can see you've been telling me this all along!
I, apparently, needed just one more push, and I got it while talking about guidebook writing to a small travel writing class last week. When one of the students wrote on an index card I gave them, "You could really be an inspirational speaker," I had to laugh because I already am. It's time to act like it!
See? Acceptance. We all have a purpose in life. We just first need to recognize it. And then we need to accept it without struggle.
Last year, when I was writing about my re-branding process, this is where that has taken me.
From here on out, I have a clear purpose -- to guide you, inspire you, lead you to trust in who you really are at your core. That was the lesson I learned from the seat of my bike when I first started riding it back in 2002. And here we are, 10 years later, and the message still rings true.
Just as I did when I began my journey, you, too, can uncover your Best self. You can access your Inner strength. You can pay attention and even act on your Killer instinct. And, yes, you can utilize your Expressive voice. That's what the BIKE is all about. You just have to become aware of it. Once you do, it's all forward movement from here.
We'll continue to talk about that here, and I hope you'll continue to join me for the ride.
And if you like, please share your own story about your struggle with your purpose. I think we've all had one at some time or another. Let's hear yours.