Living With Purpose

by Karuna Poole of Living, Learning and Letting Go

In the early to mid-90’s, I created a personal mission statement based on a process I learned in Stephen Covey’s book First Things First. When I finished the mission statement, I hung it on a wall in my house. I glance at it from time to time, and when I do I always feel amazed. That document is as true today as it was on the day I wrote it. There is no doubt in my mind that these have been the guiding principles of my life and are evidence that I have walked this life with intention.


 

Karuna’s Mission Statement

In this lifetime I will strive to be in integrity in each moment. I will live as simply as possible, so that I may experience an abundance of time, space, money and other resources.

I will be watchful and take advantage of the opportunities that I am given so that I learn what I need to learn and do what I need to do. I will trust that as long as I stay active in this process, my needs will be provided for.

I will let go and trust that the lessons I am given are for my own good. I will welcome each lesson that comes, asking for the support I need to maintain this life position.

I will do what I need to do to open the pathways to my true self. I will follow the instructions given by my inner voice. I will use my relationship with Amma to enhance this process and to help me realize my full potential.

I will support my children in becoming skillful, happy adults who are capable of achieving the goals they set for themselves. I will provide them with a wide variety of living experiences.

I will be a role model of healthy living, teaching others the lessons as I learn them. I will support others in a way that helps them to achieve their visions and grow to their full potential.


 

While I know that the words of the mission statement I wrote in the 90’s will continue to reflect the guiding principles for my life, it occurred to me while I was planning this post that it would be helpful for me to create intentions that are specifically focused on the last part of my life; intentions that would be relevant whether I die years from now, or in decades.

While my life has long been focused on service, and I expect service will remain an important aspect of my life until it is no longer possible for me to do so, I recognize that I need to adjust its place in my life priorities. During my latter years:

• I will take on the role of elder, being available to advise when asked, but keeping my tendency of volunteering to lead activities in check.

• I will give spiritual practices a high and ever increasing priority. These includes activities such as attending satsang, devotional singing, meditation, mantra, yoga and chanting. [I was intrigued by the fact that I included meditation and yoga in this section since I have actively avoided both of those activities. It seemed right to put them into this document, so I did.]

• I will maintain an independent life style as long as I can, but I will ask for and accept help when I need it. While being independent is a desire of mine, I also recognize it may not be in my best interest forever.

• I will stay engaged with current friends and be open to making new ones.

• I will keep my body healthy by exercising (e.g. Pilates, walking), eating nutritious food, taking my medications and supplements and getting adequate rest. I will minimize the amount of stress in my life.

• I will keep my mind active and alert by blogging, learning Sanskrit, and by using the Lumosity brain training program.

• I will accept the fact that my body is aging. I will stay active but I will not exhaust myself. I will learn how to deal with the discomforts that come with the aging process.

• I will reengage with some of the activities that I enjoyed in the past but let go of because of adult responsibilities or shifting interests (e.g. sewing, gardening, knitting, crocheting, quilting, weaving, etc.)

• I will remain open to discovering new interests.

• I will let go of my “plans” in favor of Spirit directed activities, meaning if I sense that I am being called to take a new direction I will.

I always enjoy watching the process of living, watching lessons come and go. As I was coming to the close of writing this post, it occurred to me that I was actually in the middle of a lesson on walking with intention. For the last week and a half I have been having back pain. I could tell that I had blockages of some kind in my neck, my upper back, my mid back and my lower back. It has been painful for me to sit and to stand so I’ve been lying down a lot. For the first week, I felt a very unpleasant sense of electricity in my neck and in the area between my elbows and half way up my arms whenever I stood up. I discovered I could reduce it if I stood up slowly and took time to breathe as I adjusted to the change of position.

The problem with doing that is that I always get up quickly, whether it be first thing in the morning or during the day. Over the last year or two, I have had the thought many times that I need to stop jumping up so fast, especially in the morning, since it could be dangerous later in my life when my legs aren’t as stable. I have steep stairs coming from my bedroom and even now it is important that I am grounded when I walk down them. Even though I’ve had that awareness, I tend to still pop up without thinking about it. I know the value of walking with intention however, both metaphorically and in this case literally, so I commit to learning to slow down when I stand up.

Thank you Sreejit for inviting me to participate in The Seeker’s Dungeon Walking with Intention project. This has been a very valuable reflection for me and hope reading my words is of value to others.

 

Karuna Poole is a psychotherapist in private practice in Seattle, Washington.  She is author of Getting to Joy and Letting Go of Suffering.  You can find more information about her at KarunaPoole.com or on her blog Living Learning and Letting Go

 

 

 

 

 

Written for Walking With Intention.  If you’d like to be a part of the challenge, find more info here: Walking With Intention.  But first leave a comment and let Karuna know how you feel about what she said, and be sure to visit her over at Living, Learning and Letting Go when you’re done.

31 Comments

  1. Thanks Mom, for bringing your Living, Learning and Letting Go style over here. You have a unique way to break everything down, as moms do, and give a lot of learning opportunities in the process. That’s a cool concept to have a Mission Statement, for your life. I think I need to workout one of those.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I’ve never thought about it as a mantra… that’s an Interesting way to conceptualize it! If you say a mantra enough it stays in the background and runs all the time. So at some subconscious place maybe that is what happens with a mission statement when you live it with intention!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is beautiful Karuna. It totally inspires me to make my own mission statement. I always have goals in the back of my mind but outlining them in the form of a mission statement is really quite different.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you do it! Even though I don’t look at it often it has meant so much to me to see that it has stayed an accurate reflection of what is important to me.

      Steven Covey has a whole section of his book about mission statements and he has a worksheet that helps readers pull out the values and principles that are most important to them. After people do the worksheet they write their mission statement in any style that fits for them, i.e. prose, poetry, etc.

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  3. Karuna, your words humbled me, since, years ago I wrote my own mission statement, one that was not nearly broad – or even true – enough to be carried through a lifetime. You have inspired me to try again. 🙂 Peace, C

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am still surprised by how accurate mine has been. Covey’s process was definitely an incredible aid. As you may have read in an earlier comment I wrote, he has a worksheet in his First Things First book that helps the reader identify the principles and values that are most important to them.

      I’m glad that my post has inspired you to try again. I hope it becomes everything you want it to be!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this, Karuna!! I do need a mission statement too. I write here so I can be reminded of what I want to do but then that post is bygones away. (sigh) I cannot get over some thoughts that went through my mind before writing my post…I kept thinking I wanted to write “Walking with a purpose”…purpose kept popping up. Then a budding comment set the stage to mine. Some day, if I never make it to India, I want to walk with intention in Seattle or California. Like Sreejit says, you add so much to the blogosphere here bringing your LivingLearningand Letting go but mostly a huge part of you…that is so real. Hugs to you, Karuna.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oliana,

      I look forward to reading your intentions post. What day will yours be up? I believe you will go to India!!!!!! I cannot imagine it any other way………

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  5. This is wonderful, Karuna. I find it particularly special because it is a great reminder that we all should have a personal directive, a visible reference which reminds us of how we want to direct our energies. I am most guilty of getting myself lost in the daily mix as that “girl that’s too busy for anything” outside of work and family. Even my service has suffered this past year, and that’s ranked far, far above anything else “personal” in my life… so you can just imagine how the rest of the story goes. Your original and your updated missions are so beautiful, genuine and life giving… for others and yourself, and I’m kind of excited now about making the time to contemplate my next phase in life and what I need and want it to entail. With Xavier heading off to college next year, I am definitely going to have to meditate on my future. He has been my primary focus for 18 years. Now what… (cringe, cringe) 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t live by creating specific goals of things I’m going to do or material things I’m going to buy. I choose instead to let life unfold. Therefore the mission statement style suits me much better. I have it as a statement of my intentions, values, and principles and that is enough.

      Yes, you are headed for a new phase in life. I look forward to hearing about your journey!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Nik,

      The above question (about your intention post) and comment (about India) was meant to go to Oliana. But as I look at what I said, maybe it was meant to go to you too! There are no accidents! 🙂

      Like

  6. I very much appreciate what i hear as a gentle acknowledgment of aging and caring for yourself. I love the reminder to be willing to ask for help, to adapt, be flexible – to let go of plans in favor of Spirit guided activities -. It seems like freedom and choice can be found in the acceptance of our bodies aging. I had a nasty fall a few weeks ago and i relate to what you are saying about awareness and presence when getting up or going down stairs. And yet i still find myself somewhat at odds within myself. Like my inner world somehow doesn’t match my body’s age. I think that what i perceive as this mismatch or at times as being incongruous is challenging for me and meditation, walking, dancing, being in nature, help me come into alignment, integration, acceptance.
    Thank you for writing about this in a way that was so clear and accessible for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Can relate to your statement about your inner world not matching your body’s age. Most of the time it seems impossible that I could be 67, although at occasionally I feel even older. I’m sorry you had a bad fall. Hope you are okay now.

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