Let Purpose Get You Off the Hamster Wheel

Self-ImprovementStress Management

  • Author Dr. Noelle Nelson
  • Published June 28, 2023
  • Word count 430

Some days it feels like life is one endless hamster wheel, where you go round and round and round in the same way day after day. You know the drill: chores-work-kids-chores-bed, rinse and repeat. Oh, sure, there’s the occasional crisis to change things up, maybe the occasional vacation or happy surprise, but mostly it’s chores-work-kids-chores-bed: what the French call “Metro, boulot, dodo” (metro, work, sleep).

BORING! As in depressing. As in why get up in the morning? There’s no seeming rhyme or reason to this continuous plod through life.

Ah but, there is. Really. All it takes is one simple question: “Why am I doing this?” For example, dog poop. My dogs are too big for me to walk, so I have a decent-sized yard, which is their agility center, play area, and (you guessed it) all-purpose bathroom--which they haven’t learned to clean up yet (you’d think . . .). So, I do it. Regularly. It’s boring. Tedious. Not the most fun thing on my list. But when I remember to ask myself “Why am I doing this?” my answer makes me happy. “Because I like a clean yard. The yard smells better and looks prettier. I can actually enjoy spending time in it. And I (or the dogs) don’t risk stepping in stinky stuff which then requires yucky clean-up.”

Now, I grant you, cleaning up after your dog isn’t nearly as thrilling as world peace or winning the lottery. However, most of our lives are about the mundane--losing/gaining weight, saving/earning money, dealing with kids/partners/co-workers and so on.

But here’s the thing. When you assign purpose to whatever it is you are engaged in, suddenly everything changes. It’s an energy shift that allows you to go from bored/depressed to interested, all the way to happy. Purpose. So if losing/gaining weight is fueled by the purpose of getting healthier, it’s less of a task and more of an adventure. Same with saving/earning money. Once there’s a purpose attached, such as a family vacation or getting out of your teeny apartment into an actual house, you’ve got a dream to pull you forward through the mechanics of saving/earning rather than getting stuck in the dreary got-to-dos of it all.

It doesn’t matter what you must do in your day to day. What matters is how you approach it. Asking yourself regularly, “Why am I doing this?” until you come up with a response that lights you up.

Purpose rocks! And so will you.

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, consultant, popular speaker and author of over a dozen best-selling books. Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and others. Visit www.noellenelson.com,

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