The Purpose Party

  • Posted on: 6 June 2014
  • By: Shawn DeWolfe
"What do you want to do when you grow up?"

That's a question that people get asked, but by the time you're 40, you should have it figured out. I haven't nor have others. I want to write, sculpt, program, be a captain of industry (allbeit on a small boat) and I want to have a life beyond toil.

In our age bracket, we're sandwiched. The prior generation has either cashed out early and are enjoying a life of envious leisure; or they're at their desks, entrenched and refusing to retire. In the 1960s, full-time work was the defacto option. Part-time work was what kids did after school. By the time I entered the job market part-time was often all that was offered. International trade sent manufacturing work overseas. Technological changes meant that some industries are in their sunset. I've spent years waiting for a free seat in the game of musical career chairs. Meanwhile, the bulk of the population shifts from working to being retired; from being young and vibrant to needing new hips and procedures. It's more expensive to live and there's less money available. Or at least that's the straw man situation to whom I have attached all my anger.
This is the setting I found myself in for the last few years. Friends of mine found themselves in the same boat. When you find you're in a problem situation, you have a problem to solve. In other words, your circumstances may be the happy pinnacle of someone else's lives even though they are your doom and source of dread. There are dirt poor people in the world who are happy. They don't have a problem with their circumstances, so why should they change? If you have a problem with your circumstances, you are in turmoil. You cannot escape yourself, so you have to reconcile your inner turmoil or you will always be a victim in this war.
I wanted to feel like I had a purpose. I worked one job that should have been the source of happiness and purpose. It was a place where I felt I could do my part to solve the world's problems (I'm okay to be a tiny cog in a good machine). That's an industry/movement with a problem. It's an industry where there are more people in jeopardy than ever before.

My friends and I were in the different parts of the same boat: How do you have a purposeful life? How do you find your way to having a life you enjoy? How do you sign a peace treaty to quell your inner turmoil?
This idea percolated last Fall. We planned to do a "Purpose Party" in lieu of New Years Eve-- an "Out with the Old, In with the New" approach. That didn't happen, but we did eventually meet and form up an idea of what we wanted to achieve. A broken wheel cannot mend itself. We grasped at what we wanted to accomplish. I knew I was very capable of sabotage, of myself and the work of others. So, I tried to only be as attached as I needed to be. Instead of saying, "whoa!" when I had problems with what we were doing, I tried to let the gears turn. I knew I wanted things to change and I wanted to stop feeling bad. I'm a problem solver; I knew that if I couldn't solve my problem at hand I had to find an external solution. As Albert Einstein said, "You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it."

Given the chance, I will commandeer meetings and push them off course. I knew we needed to find someone who had the tools I didn't possess and someone who could be a good traffic cop. One of our group reviewed the coaches in the area. They all good track records of success. We eventually went with Bruce Elkin. My sabotaging self told me that he was the wrong choice-- see: anyone we decided upon would be the wrong choice. Recognizing a trap is the first step in defeating a trap. I took a cursory look at the candidates but I knew I would skew the results towards the "we don't need no stinkin' guide" or maybe a subconsciously bad fit. I trusted the others in our Purpose Party. Bruce did a terrific job of guiding us through a weekend of how to build the tools-- the mindset-- to accomplish our goals and live a purposeful life. Going into the weekend, I never vocalized that I needed goal setting/goal attainment skills. That was a solution to the problem that I could consciously come up with. Bruce went on to great detail about how to framework what our vision/goals are; our present circumstances/current reality; and how to use definite actions to build momentum to achieve those goals.

From here, the Purpose Party has a lot more work:
  • We each have our personal goals we want to attain.
  • We plan to meet altogether or in smaller groups to coach and mentor each other.
  • I would like us to have "genius nights" where we take a smart person who knows stuff out to dinner.
  • I plan to write MUCH more on this topic (here on this site of mine).
  • I plan on infecting lots of people with the tools and framing required. I get frustrated with talented friends who say, "if only..." If they want my help, I'll offer up what I am learning.

  • Addendum: Since posting this, I kicked things into high gear. In 2013, I started a process to overhaul my life: The Rebuild

Last updated date

Monday, September 30, 2019 - 17:12