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March 3, 2017

Giving Life Meaning

One reason to own less is freeing up time to focus on what matters.

But distractions can still get in the way.  It’s far too easy to wake up and passively let hours go by, concentrating on work I don’t care about and spending my leisure time consuming content I don’t need.

Time is finite, and I don’t want to waste it. But before I go about minimizing distractions, I need to know what I’m being distracted from.

That means my life needs to have purpose.

Without purpose, I don’t have anything toward which to direct my time. I lack a scale to weigh any activity’s value. Put another way, unless I know what I want to do with my time, I can’t determine which activities need to go.

Giving life purpose can be intimidating. Choosing a direction can be paralyzing, as many students discover when the time comes to pick a college major.

Our minds have lofty ideas of the legacies we want to leave behind. I try to turn to my heart instead. I don’t want to live a life I think will be best for me. I want to live that stirs my soul.

What am I truly passionate about?

Your passions are your natural interests. Devoting time to them comes easily.

Thing is, turning passions into something tangible isn’t always obvious. I knew from an early age that I wanted to do imaginative work. By the time I left high school, I had distilled that desire down to becoming a writer — but I still wasn’t sure what that meant.

Passions may also be numerous. Life has introduced me to mindfulness, meditation, and martial arts as ways to engage my body and mind. Along the way, I stumbled across a way to reclaim the spirituality I’ve spent years wrestling with. I now have a broader desire to preserve our world and help others. Minimalism has become a thriving interest that helps me focus on my other passions.

Having many passions is great, but I have to narrow them down.

There is a such thing as taking on too much. One passion can distract me from another, making it difficult to concentrate on either.

There seems to be plenty of overlap among the things that stir my soul, but that’s because I’ve already removed focus from passions that don’t quite fit. I previously had an interest in being a game developer, but that required learning programming languages, advanced math, or computer animation. These are fine skills, but they’re not all that related to my other passions.

The time it would take to nurture those talents would mean writing a lot less, and I wasn’t willing to make that sacrifice. Learning the ins and outs of computers would mean taking fewer classes on other subjects, such as history and government, which could provide me with the context to create better worlds or depict ours with more accuracy while improving my writing. That seemed a better way to address my ultimate passion, which was to be creative.

Now to turn my passions into goals.

On their own, passions are vague. What do I want to do with them? Answering that question gives me something to direct my daily actions toward.

After college, my goal was finding a way to make a living from writing. Broader ambitions included publishing books, writing articles, and perhaps creating a blog that people want to read.

As my passions have expanded, so have my goals. Now not only do I want to write, but I want to tell stories and create works that encourage others to cherish life. I want a clearer mind, to express myself with more compassion, and to live as light. I want to give more than I take. I’d also like a black belt.

And now I have direction. I know what I want out of life, and I know how I want to direct my time. Now I’m ready to cut distractions out of my life.