be a future derived by us, and sorely lacking in the one thing that will motivate them... their personal input.
So how do we tap into this unseen force that lies behind each of us? To me, it's a matter of research. We have to take the time (and make the priority) to study ourselves, or in the case of your kids, help them study themselves (and we can too!). By focusing our awareness on our reactions to things, when our energy goes up and down, and how much enthusiasm we bring to a project, we can get clear glimpses of the river we should be following. We each do have a place where we're supposed to hang out, in terms of skills and activities. And in that place, we do our best work. Outside of that place, we lose our luster. We fail to do a great job, and even worse, we hate the entire process. We must figure out where our river is and stay there, otherwise, we will be that proverbial fish out of water and lack for air, floundering on the banks.
Does this sound like a good future for your kids? Does it sound like a good life for you? Bleck! It doesn't to me, which is why I worked hard a couple of years back to find my own river, and I have been slowly, slowly getting back in the water, and life has never felt better.
So how did I do it? Below are the five characteristics research processes you and your kids can go through to launch yourselves back into the water in which you're meant to stay.
1. Your Purpose has been with you since childhood so you will find evidence of the true ingredients there.
You may feel your kids are still young. Not so, in that they like you have a history of experiences that range from their early years till current. The trick with this characteristic is to study your life "before." What were you like back then, what things did you "play" with, what caught your attention, what were you always obsessing about, etc.? What was your focus as a child, as a younger person? Do you see that same focus here with you today? If you do, then you can jot it down as part of your river. For me, I was really into listening and making people feel better as a kid. There are lots more things I've found in my childhood that are still with me today, but these two are good examples. I discovered through my research that listening and making others feel better are two things that have stayed with me throughout my life. Now, it's true, anyone can listen and anyone can make others feel better, but do they choose to? Are they good at it? Do they absolutely LOVE doing it? I do! So they are elements of my river, in which I need to stay to both give and get the most out of my life.
2. Your Purpose comes naturally to you, so that you don't even notice you're doing it - you don't see it as something separate from you.
This is really important where kids are involved. In their youth, they don't have the experience to know or realize that they DO have something unique about them, and that it's important to figure out what that is... you do! This is where your help becomes invaluable. With your experience, you can look at them (objectively as possible) and see where they shine without having to put too much effort into doing well. Look at yourself the same way - can you be objective? What do you do well, without trying? What do you get lots of compliments on and you tend to say that it's "just you" or that "everyone can do it"? The point is that it isn't easy for others. Most people would have to work hard, or operate outside of their comfort zone in order to do what to you is a natural inclination. This is an indicator of where your river lies... now get in it! Once you figure out your own, it'll be that much easier to help your kid(s) figure out theirs.
3. Your Purpose is so engaging for you, you don't have to make yourself BE in the moment; you already are.
There are lots of natural side effects that come from existing within your river, and this is a great one. When we tend to focus too heavily on the past or the future, we get ourselves into trouble. Now kids are more naturally inclined to be in the moment, but the older they get, the more likely they are to slip into the unhappy habit of future or past-tripping. Watch for times when you naturally stay in the moment. Ask your kids the same question - when is it easy for them to engage whole-heartedly in what they're doing, so that whatever happened last night with their best friend, or whatever they're going to do next isn't even a passing thought? When I am in the midst of listening to someone's problems, I am totally engrossed. I don't even care what I'm going to make for dinner, nor do I have to fight the inclination to think about it. I am that engaged in what I'm doing. When do you not have to work to stay focused? What about your kids?
4. Purpose activities are truly win/win - you are thoroughly fulfilled doing them, and the other person is getting a great value from you, great inspiration, a great gift - the best you can give.
When are you the most satisfied? When are your kids satisfied? When does life just seem to work, be easy? What are you doing when people are really happy with your work? These are good questions to ask yourself and your kids. Purpose activities truly are win/win, and they're easy to identify because of the feeling you get inside while doing them (totally fulfilled), and the feeling others have about your efforts - pure gratitude because you have done something for them that they were unable to do for themselves.
5. Purpose activities can last for hours, and you will not notice the passing of time or energy. This is such a kick! Talk about easy to identify! What activities cause your energy to drain as if you had a spigot on the side of your hip and it was wide open? Conversely, what activities seem to maintain or even amp your energy? These are the types of indicators that you can even look for in your kids. When are they dragging their feet, and when do they seem to have inexhaustible interest and willingness to work hard?