The Power of Working Toward a Specific Purpose

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It’s hard to believe that three short months ago, Heath and I returned to the mainland from the great expanse of Alaska.

the power of working toward a specific purpose

For over two months now, Franklin the RV has been parked. So parked that his cab battery died over a month ago and we don’t even care, because we aren’t planning on moving him any time soon (although that might change if autumn doesn’t get to Texas soon).

This is the most stationary Heath and I have ever been in our marriage. Without the unknowns of travel, we’ve had a real routine and consistent work–and maybe we’ve watched 6 seasons of Big Bang Theory too, there would be no way of knowing.

In some ways, it’s wonderful to be settled into a routine. We can kayak on the lake, spend time with friends, grow closer with the community in our RV park, and enjoy plentiful selections of fresh, local salsa at HEB (the real reason why we all live in Texas). We’ve settled into a smooth rhythm.

But there’s been something different  about our lives that I couldn’t quite put my finger on lately. We’ve still been traveling–flying to San Diego last month and exploring central Texas with Heath’s first trip to Schlitterbahn just last week–so it isn’t that. We’ve still been learning new skills and trying new things, like filming weddings, learning video editing, and working with new clients. We’ve been able to reconnect with old friends in town, filling the void of community we experienced on the road.

Life is just as busy and exciting as it was before. But something subtle was off. I noticed three small things:

1. I hated waking up.

Apparently, I’m not a morning person. Heath knows this better than anyone. He makes my coffee for me, turns off the fan, and lights candles just to coax me out of bed. (I know, he’s like a real life Prince Charming).

But despite his endless sweetness, I found myself more sluggish and exhausted in the mornings, simply not wanting to drag myself from bed and start working. There were days like this on the road, but lately I’ve been even more lazy than usual, despite having a longer, more clear to do list each day.

2. I watched more television.

Heath and I don’t watch much television compared to the average American, but we do have our occasional Netflix binge. In the past few months especially, I’ve found myself pulling up Netflix more and more, getting lost in watching reruns of my favorite shows. Whenever I started feeling stressed about work or money or finding something new to fix in the RV, I sank into the couch with an episode of a comedy and got lost in the story line.

3. I found myself thinking “What am I even doing with my life?” 

This is a common thought for most 20-somethings. While on the road, I had a carefully crafted pitch about our honeymoon adventure in our RV. I could brag on my husband, on being on national and international television, on learning to be brave enough to leave our home and travel across the states to make a documentary. I had an answer to this question.

Since returning from Alaska, people often ask what Heath and I are up to. Or, even more difficult to answer, “Is the documentary done? Can I watch it?” Which makes me want to sob and lament the millions of hours of footage still unwatched. Okay, realistically, it’s probably less than 100 hours of footage I keep putting off working on, but it feels like Everest.

I often found myself reflecting on what I was working on and where my life was going, wondering if I had any idea where I was headed.

As I was pondering what the next step is for Hourly America, I realized why these past three months after Alaska have been so mentally difficult compared to our year of traveling the country.

For the first year of our marriage, Heath and I had a clear purpose, a clear goal, of something we were working toward together: visiting all 50 states. Every day we had clarity of what we were doing and why. During that year, we kicked butt and took names, so to speak. We accomplished more together during our honeymoon than I ever could’ve imagined.

I underestimated the power of working toward a specific purpose.

Without a distinct goal to work toward, I was more lethargic, easily distracted, and less motivated. I wrote and blogged less (I haven’t written or published anything in over three weeks) and I didn’t even notice. Without a goal for my writing, there was nothing to work for, so why bother?

Without a greater purpose to work toward, everything I worked toward felt ambiguous and less fulfilling.

No one ever tells you this about life. That life is easier, better, and more satisfying when you’re working on something bigger than yourself. When you choose a goal–like filming a documentary about what work looks like in America–you know the why behind your actions. Emails and phone calls and research and editing are all easier because you know it’s all leading you to something greater.

This week, as I try to write again and get back into the saddle so to speak, I’m pondering my purpose behind my work and my decisions.

Do you ever think about the purpose behind your work and your actions? Do you have a clear, written purpose for your life?