Why You Need Purpose in Your Life

Desperate Times

Most of the time, I simply live life. I thought living was enough. For me, living meant that I did what I thought needed to be done. I was too busy living to worry about my purpose and the “why” of life. Who needs reflection and thought when there’s so much to do?

Socrates said, “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.” I can’t remember when I first read his statement, but it stuck with me. I had no idea what his point was. I was living an unexamined life and it wasn’t too bad. I was wrong.

David Henry Thoreau expresses a similar sentiment when he wrote, “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.” Of course, we may not believe we live desperate lives, but more and more Americans and others in developed countries suffer from depression, stress, and anxiety than ever before. We may not want to admit to our desperation, but it is becoming harder to deny.

Livin’ Large without Purpose

I didn’t think I needed to examine life. I thought living was doing what came your way, dealing with challenges and opportunities. I was living a good life, but, unbeknownst to me, desperation was locked deep within me. My desperation didn’t cause much trouble. My desperation was quiet. But then depression hit and life came to a grinding stop.

I would do a lot of things, but I didn’t know why I was doing them. I did stuff. Sometimes I did stuff because people told me it was what I was supposed to do. Sometimes I did stuff because I believed it was expected. I always wanted to have the “right stuff” and do “the right stuff” but, unfortunately, I didn’t even know what the right stuff was.

I suffered from a purposeless life and didn’t even know it. I knew all the “God has a wonderful plan for your life” shtick, but lacked clarity. While I believed I had a reason to be on earth, I was fuzzy on what it was.

I see others suffering from the same malaise. As Thoreau points out, most people can put up with desperation, because desperation hides below the surface and may not cause much trouble. Quiet desperation describes the person who doesn’t know his or her purpose and, probably, doesn’t even care.

Purposeful Power

Not caring about our purpose is unfortunate.

Purpose brings power to our living and gives us reason to get up in the morning. Our purpose provides direction and clarity. Through purpose, we determine what to say “yes” to, but more importantly, what to say “no” to. We can finally feel good about the work we do, and the work we leave undone. Reflecting on our purpose empowers us to expand our capability and, ultimately, purpose brings us fulfillment.

Depression was part of my journey toward clarity and purpose. I’m not sure I would have embarked on a journey toward purpose if my “quiet” desperation hadn’t started screaming and shouting. Depression led me to finally examine my life.

My world was caving in, but there was also a gift. Without this time of “holy discontent” or, rather, “hell on earth” I wouldn’t have examined my life. Sure, I was forced into the examined life, but I could have chosen to deny the pain and continue to push it deeper.

The Deeper Gift of Purpose

I’m not sure where I would have ended up without going through this difficult time. As it is, I believe my time of depression has helped me end up in a much better place. Now I take time to reflect on my journey.

Purpose doesn’t come all at once. A flash of insight or understanding doesn’t come at once. A light bulb doesn’t go off showing us exactly what we are to do or become. Purpose comes over time and unfolds.

Depression isn’t necessarily required in order to find our “why”. There are much better ways. Ways I wish I could have found and followed. Because I didn’t find a better way, I was forced to take a difficult path.

Today, there are many resources online, in books, and classes that can help someone find their purpose. There are coaches who lead individuals to clarity by helping them understand where they are currently, where they really want to end up, and a path they can take.

Ends up that Socrates was right! In the next article, I will go through some steps for finding purpose and living an examined life.

Extend Your Coaching “Reach” with Video Conferencing

Extending Coaching’s Reach

Traditionally coaching has taken place face to face. Coaching face to face allows the coach to notice nuances of facial expression and body cues. In order to coach face to face, however, the client and coach must be within driving distance and that distance must be taken into account when scheduling other coaching sessions. Telephone has been another option which addresses some of the geographic challenges, but forfeits the ability to see non-verbal ques.

While coaching in person may be the best option, the introduction of video conferencing addresses geographical restrictions and allows the coach to notice facial and body ques. Coaching via video conference extends the reach of the coach, creating new possibilities for coaching both individuals and groups. This article will explore a few tools for long distance coaching.

Criteria

The criteria I used in choosing a video conferencing platform, in order of importance, were:

1) Video Quality: Let’s face it. Having video stutter and stall does not help coaching. Having audio go wacky and needing to tell your client to repeat something, or, worse yet, missing something they said, can make coaching less effective. Coaching focuses on listening and if you can’t hear, you can’t listen.

2) Cost: If the cost of the service is too high, I simply won’t be able to afford to coach. Another option would be to raise coaching fees, which may limit the people I could help.

3) Ease of Use for Client: I take the client’s ease of use seriously. If they have to download various apps, keep them updated, install new programs, or some other technical hurdle, I’m just asking for headaches. My goal is to use the technology the client already has.

4) Features: Having breakout rooms, static room names, webinars, and other features are nice, but my basic need is to connect with an individual or group. Sometimes feature-rich solutions can get in the way of my main goal.

So, with those criteria in mind, here are my musings.

Zoom.us

Zoom is the service I now pay for and use. I purchased an account even though one-on-one video conferencing is free. Since I am about to do some group coaching, I needed a pro account ($14.99). The free version does allow 40 minutes of group video conferencing, but 40 minutes wouldn’t be enough for our group session.

The pro account gives you some added administrative and scheduling features along with unlimited 1-1 and 1-group video conferencing. They also have some add-on features such as a static room name ($40). Most of the add-ons were cost prohibited for me.

Appear.in

I really liked Appear.in. I loved not having to download anything to use it. As long as you are using a web browser that supports HTML5 standards you simple go to the video conference URL. Other browsers need to download a small extension.

Appear.in doesn’t even require you to have an account! You can try it yourself. Here is a room http://appear.in/some-random-room-to-show-appear-is-cool. All I did to create the room was use “http://appear.in/” and then add a room name that, hopefully, wasn’t already being used.

If you are using Chrome there’s no download or account log in. You only have to give access to your camera and microphone and you are ready. Give the URL to anyone else and they can join the video conference (up to 8 for the free version) as well.

The Chrome web browser (which I recommend) simply works. There’s nothing to download. The client goes to the web address and is good to go! Fantastic!

I also liked Appear because it allows the creation of static rooms even on the free version. While you have to create an account to ‘claim’ a room, your account is free. Similar features cost $40/mo for Zoom. Having a static room is nice because users can simply “show up.” If someone goes into your room, you get notified. I don’t really need this feature. It might be nice for some uses, but most of the time not needed.

I almost went with Appear.In, but the video quality was not as good as my experience with Zoom. While there are many factors contributing to video/audio quality (broadband speed, network congestion, computer load), overall Zoom seemed to have better video and audio quality.

I still have an Appear.in room though. Why not since it’s free? A pro account costs $12 a month, which is competitive. Appear says that a paid account gets better video quality, but in my tests (not scientific by any means), Zoom still won in the quality arena.

Google Meet and Google Hangouts<

I’m hard pressed to tell much difference between Google Meet and Google Hangouts. Apparently, Google Meet is supposed to be the new direction for Google. I thought Google was going to get rid of Hangouts completely, but that does not seem to be the case.

I wasn’t a big Google Hangouts user, so I’m not sure of all of the previous features, or how those features changed. One of the major changes was splitting out the chat feature which, I’ve read, was a response to Slack.

After looking through the comparisons from Google, I think I would like a combination of the two services. Some report Meet having better video quality, but after using Meet a few times, I’m not sure I could tell. In just about every session I would have video pausing, audio stutter, and other issues.

Hangouts is free. Meet is included with Google G Suite which costs $5/mo for the basic plan. The business version costs $10/mo, increasing the 30 GB Google Drive space to one terabyte.

Join.me

I didn’t give Join.Me a fair trial because it required a download and the cost was more than Zoom and Appear.in. I decided those two things would keep me from using Join.me. While the required download wasn’t a deal breaker, the download, plus the $20 per month cost was.

Both Zoom and Join.me required downloads causing me to view Join.Me along the same lines as Zoom. Since Zoom was cheaper per month ($14.99), I decided to get a Zoom account instead.

Join.me also doesn’t seem to work on a Chromebook, which, for me, was a deal breaker. I want clients to use whatever technology they have at their disposal. I do not want to be limited by the technology, if at all possible. Finding a video conferencing service that works with all the major Operating Systems (Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Linux) was one of my criteria. Because of the lack of support for Chromebook and Linux, along with the required download and the more expensive cost, I didn’t spend too much time evaluating the service.

On the plus side, there is a free version that allows three person conferencing. From the screen shots, Join.me look more modern than the other services, utilizing round video windows rather than square or rectangle.

If you are interested, I suggest signing up for a free account. They offer a 14 day free trial of their pro version, then you revert to the free version.

Slack

I’m including Hipchat and Slack because both have video conferencing in their paid products. Hipchat is $3/mo per user and Slack is $12/mo per user. Both services offer similar features, which could be use in a coaching environment. The main advantage of these tools are asynchronous and synchronous communication and the possibility of building a community. Both services allow a free trial of their paid accounts.

I’m still thinking about how to use hipchat and slack for clients. I may write more about the possibilities at a later date.

Final Thoughts

I highly suggest signing up for the free version of the various services. It helps if you have a plan on how you will evaluate each service to make sure it works for your specific situation. There are various services because each one brings something different. Once you know what you want out of a video conference service, evaluation becomes easier. For my situation, right now, Zoom works the best. Appear.in was a close 2nd and I may still use Appear from time to time since their free version allows up to eight people to conference at a time.

I hope this article helped you in some way. If you know of other services, or have questions or comments, please leave them.

Action Plan

  • Create a list of criteria
  • Create a list of video conferencing options
  • Read reviews
  • Create a few accounts
  • Test each service in a variety of situations

The Power of Clarity

Quiet Desperation

I wouldn’t say I had bad habits as a young pastor because I really didn’t have habits at all, at least not intentional habits. Instead, I had an image in mind of what good pastors did and tried to live up to that image, yet I was not consistent or intentional about my life. Clarity of purpose didn’t come easily.

Like many reading this, I didn’t have the luxury of a mentor or coach guiding me. Even though I went to seminary, that was for education, not direction. For the nitty gritty stuff of life, I was on my own. Instead of intentional living, I was living by trial and error and living by trial and error wears thin over time.
Continue reading “The Power of Clarity”