What obstacles will you remove from your path toward working with purpose?
Last year, Echoing Green’s Work on Purpose program asked our users a question: “What is your second greatest barrier to working on purpose?” We had a hunch that identifying their second greatest barrier would help people go beyond blaming that old scapegoat of choice (we’ve all got one) and zero in on what’s really holding them back.
We received only two answers to this question. But we received them again and again, from various people, and sometimes combined. Those answers were: Time and Myself.
One person eloquently wrote: "Time is constant... always going by, but never unexpectedly and always at the same rate. I am the variable in the equation. I need to stop blaming it and start analyzing what I do with it and why it goes perceivably so fast. If I could do this, then I could learn to use time as my tool and not my enemy."
The prevalence of these two answers were still weighing on me when thinking about how to take action in the new year—simple things you can do in your current job that can have a positive impact on the world. It occurred to me that though there are plenty of things you can do to make the world a better place, sometimes you need to focus on what not to do in order to pull them off. At those times, only a don't do will do.
As we begin the new year, we challenge you to create a not-to-do list that will help you push past your biggest barriers to living and working on purpose. And here’s the best part: You get to decide what that means.
One Echoing Green staff member used the don’t do challenge as a way to tackle her time issue. She created a list of all of the things she would choose not to do in order to give her time to cultivate her purpose. For the rest of us, that may mean disengaging from an unhealthy or draining relationship. It may look like turning down a freelance job that won’t take you where you ultimately want to go. It may even mean shocking a boss by turning down a promotion that feels wrong inside. The trick, she said, will be actively using the open time and space to forward her purpose. “Saying ‘yes’ to what you want,” she explained, “means saying ‘no’ to other things, and we need to be smart about both sides of that coin to get where we want to go.”
Another staff member used it as a way to get out of her own way, overcoming the self-as-barrier issue so many of us face. She suggested identifying patterns and messages that we need to let go of, and doing the hard work to unpack those patterns and cut out that which doesn’t serve us. She wondered: "What if those of us with a history of not believing in ourselves stopped telling ourselves that we aren’t good enough to pull off our passion project? Or if those of us who have a habit of going straight home after work tried going to an uncomfortable but potentially exciting gathering?"
Another kind of don’t do is simply carving out the time to... well, not do. Not work. Not talk. Not watch TV. And instead simply be for a little while, gathering up the reserves it takes to live life fully. For many of the Echoing Green staff living in the madness that can be New York City, this feels especially necessary.