Friday, October 4, 2013

Benefits and Purpose

It feels like I haven't done in a blog in days.  Actually, it's only been a day and a half, but that's still too long.  I’d prefer to do at least one in every 24-hour period.  Why?  I write for the benefits.
·      I said I would write every day and it feels good to keep my word.
·      When I write, it’s like getting free therapy.
·      It’s fun.
·      It’s healing.
·      It makes me happy.
·      I feel like I’m contributing something to the world.
Perhaps I’m not contributing to the world because I’m only getting a handful of readers.  But I hope that I’m at least contributing to my world or to a small part of the world.  I like the idea that I’m doing something positive.  Lately I’ve been busy and tonight I flirted with the idea of not writing, but then I thought, “Why would I give up all those benefits, even for one day?”
So here I am writing and enjoying the process.  Some people might say that I’m working hard, but this doesn’t feel hard at all.  I’ve written over 230 blogs and rarely has it seemed hard.  I’ll admit, some were more difficult than others, but overall the benefits have far outweighed any burdens.
Benefits are important to people.  There are very few of us who do anything without hoping for some kind of benefit.  Even the most altruistic people benefit from a clean conscious or the feeling that they have done their best.  Many people choose a job or stay in a job, even one they don’t like, for the benefits.  I once knew a man who had been in his job for over 25 years.  He said he hated it, but he was “hanging on” because of his retirement benefits.  I pictured a man hanging on the edge of a cliff by his fingernails.  I can’t imagine living like that, but I almost did.  I quit one career based on a good friend’s advice that if I didn’t leave soon, I would be “trapped by the benefits.”
With Purpose though, it can never be about benefits.  That’s like taking up a hobby for the perceived monetary value rather than for the love of the hobby.  It can never be about the money or the benefits.  The main reason for this is that the money or the benefits may not ever come.  The average number of readers I get is about 15 per blog.  Fifteen.  My writing is good and powerful and helpful and I average about 15 readers a day.  Fifteen.   But it’s okay. 
Initially when I started writing these blogs, I wanted everyone to read them.  I bugged my friends on Facebook or I would call people or tell them in person.  I even contacted Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art and asked if he would read my work.   He graciously said no.   Other professionals I contacted didn’t even give me that courtesy.   Then one day, about two weeks after I started writing, I realized it didn’t matter to me if people read my work or not.  I still wanted the world to read my work, but that was no longer the reason.  In fact, it was never the reason.  My reason for writing was writing.  I wanted to write.  I needed to write.  I still do. 
Now if someone offered me a million dollar contract to write professionally, I would say yes in a heartbeat.  But that would be a benefit, not the purpose.  A million dollars would enable me to do what I want, but I can do what I want without it.  In fact, once when I shared my dream of writing every day, a student asked, “What’s stopping you?”
So now I write almost every day.  Often I get up early, so I can have time to write (and do my radio show) before the rest of the world wakes up.  That time, to myself, doing my work, is another benefit, by the way. 
There’s an old saying, “Virtue is its own reward.”  So is Purpose.  Yes, I hope my work attracts more readers (or listeners for my radio show).  Yes, I hope I can do this for a living some day.  Yes, I hope I can make enough money to put my girls through college and get that cottage on the beach.  But I’m not doing it for any of those reasons.  If I were, I would eventually quit.  I stay in Purpose, because I must.  I can already hear the voice of a friend saying, “You have to or you choose to?”
I have to. 
The alternative is dreadful.  I know this, because I lived the alternative for years.  I have to write. I have no choice.   I have to be in Purpose. 
So do you.  You have to be in Purpose.  And you will get at least one benefit from it, though I think you may get far more.  Your benefit will be to know that you are living out the reason for which you were created.
Get Started and Keep Going…and enjoy the benfits.