Fads come and go. Things like gender reveal parties weren’t in vogue at all when I had my kids, but now everybody has one. And if you’re in high school and have a prom, chances are you’re going to get asked out in a big way, not the way I was. I think we passed the poster in the hall advertising the prom, and my boyfriend (now husband) looked at me and said, “I’ll buy tickets tomorrow.” I’m in my 40s now, and I’ve noticed this brand new trend of sharing what you’ve learned over the years, as if 40 is the age of wisdom.
But Immanuel Kant (1704-1784) was talking about writing down your maxims back in the 1700s—he was cool BEFORE it was cool! Kant believed that the highest good for human beings was being able to achieve both complete virtue and complete happiness at the same time. You could do this, he posited, even without a connection between the two. In fact, virtue and happiness often work in OPPOSITION to one another. (Kant was one of these guys who could blow your mind if you thought too much about the lofty ideas he floated) Further, Kant believed character didn’t develop until age 40, and that’s when you should write down all the things you’ve found to be true. (Gosh, do I sound boring or what?)
Kant believed these essential rules for living should be followed for the rest of one’s life. We don’t have a list of Kant’s maxims, but we do know that before age 40 he rarely had habits he followed or even moral principles for that matter, but after age 40, he stuck to his routine religiously.
Is this why we say old people are “set in their ways?”
Maybe all the old people have finally found their purpose.
Purpose isn’t the work you’re paid to do; it’s the work that experience prepares you to do.
I really like the idea of writing down what you’ve learned and living by a set of rules that you’ve found to work for you. A lot of people think routine inhibits passion and spontaneity. But I don’t necessarily agree that’s true. In the book, Daily Rituals, Mason Currey writes that W.H. Auden once said, “the surest way to discipline passion is to discipline time: decide what you want or ought to do during the day, then always do it at exactly the same moment every day, and passion will give you no trouble.”
I have my own rules for living that work for me, and you probably have yours. I realized that my personal rules are directly tied to my purpose. What I believe about the world, work, family, and love has become the building blocks of my life.
Think about the work you do:
1) Why do you do it?
2) What do you want your work to do in the world?
3) How do you want your work to make people feel? Your family? Your friends? Your colleagues?
4) What does success look like to you?
5) What are you willing to do to reach that success?
To learn more about what it means to be mission driven, you can download our manifesto here.