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8 Simple Steps to Lead Our Life on Purpose

8 Simple Steps to Lead Our Life on Purpose

Are we living an authentic life?  Are we excited each day to engage and lose ourselves on the path of life that we are travelling?  Are we committed to mastering the path that we are on?

Many people struggle with finding a life purpose that is authentic, personally meaningful and a source of intrinsic value.  If you struggle with this, then this article is for you.  I’ll set out 8 simple steps that will help us lead our life with purpose.

1. Determine What We Uniquely Value, Who We Really Are

Is the path that we are on authentic?  Did we pursue a career because our parents wanted us to pursue it?  Does our heart yearn for something else?  We cannot live our life on purpose unless we determine what that purpose is. The first step in determining this is to determine what we uniquely value.  What is it that makes us come alive? When is it that we are most fulfilled?

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I found great clarity in my life when I literally wrote down my unique values, and I made sure that I didn’t get caught by the trap of only valuing what everyone else values: economic security and social acceptance.  These are important values, but by fixating on them, we often make decisions (particularly relating to careers) that don’t lead to an authentic purpose.

What else do we value? For me I valued freedom, and contribution, and challenge, and variety. That led me to leave a financially secure career (law) for one that many would consider risky (entrepreneurialism and writing). But once I did I was much happier because my actions were in line with what I uniquely valued as an individual.

2. Think Action, Not Rewards

It is really, really easy to get discouraged when we fixate on the rewards of our actions as the sole motivating force in our life. Here’s why: rewards can sometimes be elusive, despite our best actions. Also, rewards can seem unfair. We see in the media all the time examples of people who become rich and famous. and we wonder why? We wonder what they did to deserve it, and why we don’t get it?

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This line of thought is a recipe for discouragement, and it is a sure-fire way to cause us to pull away from our unique purpose. If we don’t see the rewards quickly, it is easy to quit. A better way is to adopt a habit of focusing on our actions, not the rewards of our actions. When we live each day, excited to give our very best in what we can control (our actions and our attitude) we are able to live a life on purpose.

3. If It Scares You, Do It

If it very unlikely (I would argue impossible) to live a life completely on purpose without ever confronting fear. It is often our deepest desires that scare us the most. They scare us because we want them, and we know that we should be pursuing them; we just don’t know how, and we are scared to fail. I have found that by doing what scares me, when it comes to what I believe is my purpose, I grow in complexity. I am happier, and I have a greater sense of personal fulfilment. If it scares me, it is likely that I should do it.

4. Commit To Mastery

Mastery is long term. Mastery is hard. Mastery take hours and hours of mundane repetition and practice. If we don’t truly believe that an activity is part of our unique life purpose, then we won’t put in the time to become a master. Also, if we don’t intrinsically enjoy our pursuit (independent of any rewards), it is likely that we won’t put in the practice to develop our talents and skills in a way that represents mastery. Commit to mastery in the things that are uniquely you. Take the long view. If you do, you will live life on purpose because you won’t become deterred by short term distractions. You will also have much more of an impact on others.

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5. Seek Guidance From Mentors

There are always people out there who are willing to help us, and many of them have tread the exact path that we are currently on. Many of them have felt the same anxieties and fears that we feel. All we have to do is reach out to them. Find a way to add value to the mentor you are reaching out to. They will be glad to reciprocate your value by teaching you important things that will help you on your unique path. Sometimes mentoring comes in the form of books, articles, or speeches. Find whatever you can that helps you on your path.  Don’t go at it alone.

6. Create Value For Others

A fulfilling life purpose is one that includes the creation of value for other people. Creating value for other people is also something that allows us to get paid for doing what we love.  In whatever it is the we value, that we want to make our life’s work, we will be most likely to sustain this action, and make money doing it if it creates value for others. Creating value often arises by an attempt to solve a problem, or provide an insight to another. Outward directed work, that helps others, also helps us because we are rewarded for the efforts of our creation.

7. Make Plans And Take Action

Be deliberate. Be intentional. Once we have determined what it is that we uniquely value, we make it real by making a specific plan of action to take our idea, or wish, and create its tangible counterpart.  Once we have a plan of action, simply take action, build our action into a habit, and continue. Make it our life’s work.

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8. Be Thankful And Appreciate The Moment

Ungrateful people are difficult to be around.  Don’t be one of them.  Don’t be one of those people who is always complaining, and is always looking for what is wrong in the world.  This is why focusing on actions, not rewards is so important.  If we focus only on rewards, and those rewards don’t come, it is easy to “vent.”  When we are venting, what we are really doing is just complaining (the word vent makes it seem okay for us). Resist the urge to vent, but rather just be thankful for the fact that we have a chance to do something that is authentic to us.  Embrace the moment of where we are.  This will go a long way to helping us live life on purpose, and it will also go a long way to ensuring our long term happiness.

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Ryan Clements

A lawyer turned marketing professional, entrepreneur and writer who writes about entrepreneurship, career and personal development.

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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