We’ve seen blips of our truest selves, when we’re happy and attending to the work God has put before us with a full heart. This is an oasis where your skillset, passion, and the need of others intersect. While some live in that place, most spend their entire lives searching.
We make one modification, then the seasons of life change and something has to be added to or taken away from our latest recalibration. As you gain experience and learn more about yourself, you get closer every time, but it seems like life is just continual adjustments to increase the regularity of that reality.
How can we fulfill our highest potential on this side of heaven where the odds are often against our favor? How do we make that reality a consistent occurrence? Life will never be perfect, but we can take certain steps to balance the scales.
#1 — Pursue your passions
What is the work that energizes you? Where are you simultaneously putting your hands to use and scratching your creative itch? These questions will take some reflection to answer. Consider what you love to do and a context where someone would pay you to do that.
For me, this isn’t 40 hours a week rearranging pixels on my computer but running around my local church building helping with various events. Though physically exhausting, that work with those people is thoroughly energizing, and I leave ready to do it again.
“The world needs you to live for the things that matter to you because you’re at your most productive and influential self when you’re offering your unique contribution.”-Joshua Becker, Things That Matter
People are what matter to me, and I have found my skill set and wiring to be most and best used behind the scenes. What does that look like for you? How does a conviction you hold dear ripple out into work for your hands and energy for your heart?
#2 — Be honest about yourself with yourself
I’m talking about self-deprecation to those who are fluent in it. You cannot be the most effective version of yourself when demeaning your unique gifting and skillset. Shooting yourself in the foot will inhibit you from walking alongside another.
We must be honest with ourselves. Yes, we are depraved human beings who put Jesus on the cross, but we are also so inexplicably loved that our Savior gave His life for us. There is a happy medium we must learn to walk. We are not the best, but we are also not worthless.
The cross shows that there is something incredibly wrong with me AND something incredibly valuable about me.Tim Keller
Recognize what you’re good at. Whether that be a leadership skill or mastery of some craft, embrace your strengths. Don’t promote them with haughty arrogance but be honest about what God has given you the talent to do, and learn how to use them for the sake of another.
#3 — MINIMIZE
You cannot care for everyone and everything. We, as finite beings, just do not have the capacity for that. We have to pick a few points and go deep rather than spreading ourselves thin and wide.
You must identify where you want to go in life and what matters the most to you so you can minimize your itinerary to focus on those few things. The goal is not to do everything poorly but a few things well.
“Minimalism, for me, is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”-Joshua Becker, The Minimalist Home
This could look like moving your TV to a back room so the first thing you see when coming home is the art, music, and crafts that get your creative juices flowing. Or it could mean deleting your social media accounts so you can live out your value of in-person interaction. Prioritize what gives you life.
#4 — Never stop learning
With all the variation and moving parts, we won’t be able to acquire an understanding of every topic known to mankind. Every day is a new day. Every season casts new light to see from a different perspective.
Knowing there is always something that could be learned is key to being the best individual you can be. Such a mindset will encourage humility in your actions and make you a better listener. So having a learner’s mindset can enrich your relationships as well as your personal well-being.
A learner’s actions can be investigating new subject areas, getting to know another individual, or mapping out their strengths/weaknesses. Learn how you work best and what kind of rest you need when. Surround yourself with people who challenge your perspective and encourage you to try new things.
#5 — Commune with people
This is one of the rare few cases where I am pro-small talk. Being in situations (such as volunteer activities) where people are asking the school/work/hobbies questions can be the perfect reminder of your purpose. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Hopefully your daily activities are the minute details of a larger passion.
If you have a big-picture understanding of your purpose and are doing something in your day-to-day that somehow contributes, sometimes sharing that basic information with people is all you need to breathe life into a dying ember.
Flushing out the details of what this looks like for you in your life will take time and reflection. Identify your morals and values. Recognizing where your time is going. How are your daily activities helping or hindering where you want to go in life? Minimize and promote as needed.