Finding your purpose: This is such a buzz phrase these days. What does it even mean? We overuse it. Are we talking about finding something outside of us? Do we need to go out and find this purpose or is it something inside of us that we need to cultivate and go inward? And is your purpose the same your whole life? Does it change as you change? These are such good questions. And I don't know if I have the answers.
I do know that the key to time management, what the New Billable Hour® is all about, is prioritizing. And I think you know this too. We're most productive when we focus on what's important. The problem is that we are so distractable because we're letting things that are not important take our attention. Why are we doing this? Why are we letting things that we say we think are not important take priority? We know how to prioritize. We know what is more important than something else. We know how to put value on things as lawyers, but we still let ourselves get pulled by things that we say are not important. So I'm going to focus this blog post on living in purpose, with purpose, and on purpose. Again, that's living in purpose, with purpose, on purpose - finding that place where we are in purpose.
Find your purpose; you may have some big lofty purposes in your life. I do and I'm constantly headed towards them, on that journey. And maybe you have found your purpose. I hope you have. So that's great. But what if everything you did had a purpose, like a mini-purpose, or everything you did had something to do with your bigger purpose…all of it, even the distractions, mistakes, disasters, all of that. What if all of that had a purpose, a reason? And what if accepting your foibles can be your ultimate purpose?
It’s often easier for us to accept our successes: “Okay, that was great. I did that on purpose. I had this goal and I met it.” But then when something goes wrong, we don't really accept it, because we feel like that has nothing to do with anything. That something is wrong. We're off track. What if accepting that those things that you think are wrong, may be for a reason, and accepting that could be your purpose? Allow me to explain further. Our issues with productivity stem from not feeling like we had any control of our time: we get to the end of the day or the week and wonder where our time went. We chalk it up to emails interrupting us or phone calls, or other tasks that build up, clutter. And that may be true actually, if we did those things instead of the things that we want to be doing or that we think we want to be doing.
Those tasks must be responsible! But who is the person doing those tasks? It's you; it's me. So what if taking responsibility for what you did isn't a punishment? What a privilege and opportunity to see what we think is important. Can we acknowledge that we're always at choice? We're always doing the best we can. If we can acknowledge that we choose to read the email; you choose to be on social media; we choose to engage in a drama that is not our concern. If we choose to do that, if we acknowledge that choice, the game changes, and we're not victims to our time being taken away from something else. We're choosing to use our time for other things. And finding your purpose is a constant exercise in noticing what you value. So when you choose emails, choose to be on social media, choose to answer that phone call, you are valuing that. When I choose those things, I'm valuing that task. We might not want to acknowledge this, but bear with me that when we do acknowledge that we're choosing that task, there may be a reason. I mean there is a reason; there's a purpose for doing that task.
So I suspect that emails take your time and energy because you want to be available. You want to be communicative with your clients and colleagues. And the same for phone calls and other interruptions. You really value that part of being a lawyer, of being a person. You want to be helpful; you want to be ethical. You don't want to be that attorney who doesn't return emails. You want to meet the needs of your clients. And sometimes expectations are unrealistic, but we still want to meet them at the expense of your overall productivity. I think everybody I've asked, “are you as productive as you'd like to be?” says no. And I don't know if anybody is. You are choosing tasks that actually take away from that productivity. You want to be of service. However, ultimately you're choosing things that will overall affect your ability to serve.
At the expense of your productivity, you're choosing these tasks that are short-term that you think are best. This is how we've done it, how we've been taught, how things are set up - expectations that aren't realistic. Like I said, even if your soul knows the best use of your time, there's this pull into the day-to-day tasks that make us feel like we're productive. Even though at the end we're like, “Oh, we weren't productive,” the tasks are very enticing. So this is my invitation to you. You know what your purpose is. You know your purpose is to serve, and to live in integrity, and to have balance, and all of the things that you're asking for. It's just time to consider if you're serving from that best place when you make a choice, or from the easiest, or from the conditioned response.
The habit of noticing is like 90% of the practice, noticing and letting yourself do it. “I am doing emails now, and it is taking a lot of time when I could be writing a brief” or “I am writing a brief now and I am not doing emails.” Being aware that there's going to be this push, pull, push, pull and there's nothing we can really do about that because we're always at choice. There's always another choice and we can only live in the choice that we're making and acknowledge that we are the ones making it. The choice is not being made for us - like “I had no choice!” There's always a choice and often we don't choose the best, but we choose the best that we could do at the time.
It's just time to consider again, if you're serving from that best place, or from the easiest place, or from the best you can do place, and that's fine. Finding your purpose is knowing that everything you do, every choice you make with your time, your energy, your productivity, is on purpose and there are no accidents. Go forth, notice, wonder what the purpose is of what you're doing, and so much more will open up for you.
Thank you to the sponsor of this podcast episode and blog post, Hoppock Law Firm, located in Shawnee, Kansas. Hoppock Law Firm assists immigration attorneys with federal litigation matters, including denaturalization defense, mandamus and habeas petitions, and federal circuit court appeals. The firm can be found at www.hoppocklawfirm.com. For a free copy of “The New Billable Hour” book and other resources, visit www.newbillablehour.com