In his new book, Elevate, Acceleration Partners founder and fellow Inc contributor, Robert Glazer, writes about the importance of finding a core purpose, or the motivation you use every morning to get excited about the day.
Your core purpose, or what many would compare to a personal vision statement, is part of a bigger personal action plan, and it is what many successful professionals create and audit regularly to be proactive and make progress toward goals rather than being reactive and simply putting out fires every day.
From my experience working with entrepreneurs, many find it challenging to identify and articulate their core purpose. Often, whether sitting in solitude or working with a mentor or coach, entrepreneurs get stuck on what they should be saying ("be a great entrepreneur" or "be successful in business") and what they really want to say ("be a great dad" or "be a prolific writer"). Balance, it seems, is often difficult to reconcile.
The process of creating a core purpose requires time and contemplation. It needs to be purposeful and meaningful, as it will and should drive how you prioritize your valuable time, energy and resources.
So how do you start? There are any number of methods and tips to help, but if you need a prompt to start, consider this question: What would you want others to say about you after you have died?
In other words, how would you write your own eulogy?
Define Your Eulogy
First, do not confuse a eulogy with an obituary, that latter of which is typically more factual and dry. A eulogy is how you describe the life and legacy of someone who has passed with emotion, meaning, and inspiration. Eulogies often include one or more of these areas:
A favorite quote that guided your life
Formative life events
Powerful and influential personal traits or characteristics
Family life with children, spouse, or other close family and friends
Career and career accolades
Obstacles or challenges overcome
Funny or even embarrassing memories
As you begin to consider your eulogy, you can consider any or all or none of these descriptions. It is entirely up to you.
Write Your Current Eulogy
For this exercise, it is important to understand where you are right now. Use this opportunity to reflect on your current legacy and present an honest assessment of areas of your life that make you proud.
Write Your Future Eulogy
Now that you are done looking backwards, it is time to look forward. Using the suggested content areas above, draft a eulogy for yourself long into the future. What would it sound like? Most important, list all of the things you want people to say and remember about you in the future.
Once you are done, review and reflect on both these eulogies, and in them you will find your core purpose. It may not be clear at first, but if you really consider what you wrote, you will see the areas of your life that are most important to you.
Also, when you compare the future eulogy to the current eulogy, you will find the areas of your life in which you need to focus. Differences in how you want people to remember you in the future versus how you believe they will remember you now will provide you with an honest assessment of where you need to improve and progress you need to make.
In this exercise, you will not find descriptions of menial tasks and responsibilities that probably take up most of your time. Instead, you will find long-term areas of focus, like family or travel or education or spiritual endeavors, many of which most likely are not in your daily action list for ongoing nurturing.
This is a very interesting exercise to consider, and like any goal setting or planning regimen, it should be an ongoing and organic process meant to hold your accountable toward making progress toward your important goals.
Let's just hope that we have more time than needed to make our future eulogies come to fruition.