What does it mean to ‘live on purpose?’

We hear people frequently talk about the need to live on purpose. Even here at Forward From 50 we preach about the need to pursue a purpose strong enough to get us up in the morning and keep us engaged throughout the day.

I often add being of service to others to that definition of purpose. A few weeks ago, I used gardening as an example. Yes, people can spend a lot of time planting, watering and pruning a garden. That makes a fine hobby.

But it becomes a purpose when the reason for doing all that activity involves other people. Growing and picking flowers for personal enjoyment is one thing, but doing so in order to bring enjoyment to others turns a hobby into purpose.

Nor does busyness necessarily equate to purpose. That’s a point made by Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski in an opinion piece he wrote for Door County Daily News in Wisconsin’s famous thumb.

“We all live our days completing tasks and checking off our daily ‘to do’ lists,” he explained. “Many times, we confuse our occupations or personal obligations with purpose, when there is, in fact, a difference.”

Matt described purpose as being “where you have the greatest joy while making your greatest impact without wearing out your soul.”

Although he didn’t specifically say it, I suspect he agrees that purpose must involve service to others. His definition mentions having “the greatest impact” and it’s impossible to have impact without contact with someone else.

Matt encouraged people to look at their schedules in terms of a cell phone battery.

“There are certain things we must do every day that drains that battery down and other things we do that automatically charge that same battery,” he explained. “If we are lucky enough to be able to engage in those battery-charging tasks and, in doing so, bring about a positive impact to those around us, then we have arrived at a life of purpose.”

Still struggling to identify a purpose for your life? Start here. What activity gives you the greatest joy when you’re engaged in it? How can you do that and help others at the same time? Answer the question and you’ll be well on your way to finding purpose for your life.

Matt’s column can be found at www.doorcountydailynews.com.