Paula Levin

#coached10 significance and purpose every day

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I did what Sterna said and reread some of my blogs, revisiting why I want my mornings to be more energetic. This is part of the process of “shining” goals – really seeing WHY they are so valuable to me. Shining goals makes them even more vivid, and it’s visualising those images of successful mornings that help get me up earlier. When I open my eyes and see that image of a playful, happy, unrushed morning with Aliya, it really is much easier to fully wake up. When I picture myself journaling and davening after dropping Aliya at school, it is less tempting to get back into bed. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve also been doing some morning walks with my sister. Because it’s early, it’s not taking time out of work. Because she’s relying on me, I have to push through the tiredness and show up. It’s one more early start I can feel proud of.

Sterna challenged me to set other small goals that would add purpose and significance to my mornings, motivating me to have an earlier start. “When you have something you’re excited to tackle, it’s easier to get going in the morning,” she said. I shared with Sterna that I think I am the problem. I don’t know what really excites me. What’s worth getting up earlier than I absolutely have to? I don’t know what my mission or purpose in life is! What am I supposed to be contributing to the world?

I also know that I have a style of thinking that minimises what I do accomplish. I am incredibly aware that I deflate that balloon of self-worth by telling myself that my greatest accomplishments are actually meaningless and miniscule, a ripple on the ocean, a speck of dust on the surface of infinity. Sterna told me to stop getting ahead of myself, stop working out what significance and impact my life will have one day in the future. “BE PRESENT,” she said. “Stay right here, right now. Bring your mind back from analysis, and be present with what you’re doing or have done.”

A few years ago my co-authors and I launched a book we had written. It was amazing, glamorous, exciting and fulfilling. But I clearly remember that a part of me was 50 years in the future, an old lady, and I remember thinking, don’t get too excited about this moment, because soon it will be a distant memory. Oy. Sharing this with Sterna, I realised I had robbed myself of JOY. Of staying in the moment. In the few weeks since our session, I have managed to catch myself and come back to the present, without judging and evaluating its long term value.

I also loved her idea of small daily goals. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what my life’s QUEST should be. And it’s exhausting. It’s too big and too undefined. Sterna is helping me see that I can break up this major life purpose into a small, humble, daily task, and be present in that. Do you ‘psych’ yourself out of the preciousness of each ordinary day because you’re looking for something else? Something bigger and better? Try this mindfulness trick to bring yourself back to earth – stop, close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. It helps to get out of your head and into your life. Now, what do you want to do today, that makes today that much more meaningful to you, and possibly even for someone else? Do that. And tomorrow, do it again.

About the Author
Paula is a wife, mother and writer - based in Johannesburg, South Africa, dreaming of Israel. She is a full-time thinker, part-time copywriter at her husband's advertising agency, journalist and published author. The former editor of Jewish Life magazine, she is now a regular contributor with a passion for contributing goodness, kindness and wisdom to this world.