Last night I sat down with the family to watch one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies, It’s A Wonderful Life.
As I get older, it seems like I can identify more and more with George Bailey. A lot of the challenging times that I’ve gone through were challenging because I felt stuck in a negative situation. I’ve considered suicide because of money issues. I’ve stood on that bridge, wondering whether the people in my life would be better off if I just took that plunge.
The feeling of being stuck – without hope – is one of the things that frightens me most. It’s happened to me in the past. It wasn’t until I purposefully changed my situation that things started to improve.
What I didn’t realize then was that intentionality is the key to staying unstuck. If you’re intentional about your life – if you have a plan, and work the plan, you can succeed. That doesn’t mean that things will always go your way. George Bailey certainly had some grand plans for his own life, none of which came to fruition. But every time, he did the right thing for his hometown rather than doing what he wanted to do.
George aimed high, certainly.
But aiming high can sometimes cause us to miss the real target. George Bailey wanted to do the right thing. In his mind, he saw that as being something huge – traveling the world, building grand monuments to the grandiosity of mankind. In the end, though, he achieved greatness not through some large, grand career. His greatness was in the impact he had on other peoples’ lives.
Isn’t that how it works for all of us?
A Positive Impact
I’ve had plenty of frustrations at my job, but one thing that I love is the company’s stated purpose:
“To positively impact lives and livelihoods.”
This is so important to me, it is my personal purpose in life. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, or even where I work. My purpose in everything that I do needs to be to leave a positive impact on the people around me.
This isn’t always easy, but having the goal that what you do has a positive long-term impact on others can revolutionize how you live your life. If you understand that what you’re doing every day makes a difference to others, then even when you feel stuck, it’s not as bad. And knowing you can turn to the people around you for help and encouragement makes all the difference in the world.
Rick Warren’s hugely popular book, The Purpose Driven Life, starts out with this statement:
“It’s not about you.”
Ain’t that the truth?
If we live our lives for ourselves, it’s easy to fall into the trap of despair when we get stuck. When your selfish desires just don’t pan out, other people aren’t likely to care. And if you spend all of your time living your life for yourself, real meaning is hard to come by.
Living a life of purpose means living a life that’s about more than yourself. In those times when I was without hope, I was focused on me. I couldn’t see beyond my own selfish desires, and it drove me crazy when things didn’t go my way.
Living with purpose is the key to having that wonderful life – especially when things aren’t going your way.