Your North Star is not a destination, but a direction of travel.
Real and lasting motivation comes from within when we take action in line with what we care about. Our life choices become significantly easier (what to do, and just as importantly what not to do) when we have a clear sense of purpose and direction.
The Chinese army has a punishment which involves getting soldiers who’ve done something bad to dig a big hole for several hours and then fill it back in again, because nothing is more soul destroying than work without purpose. The British army used to have a similar punishment whereby they would have soldiers dig all the coal out of the coal cellar and put on the other side then white wash one of the walls and shovel all the coal down against that whitewashed wall because nothing is more soul destroying than work without purpose.
When we fail to be clear about what we care about what our purpose and direction in life is, we commit ourselves to work without purpose… and this idea of direction and purpose isn’t the same thing as goals it’s something bigger and further away, that we don’t need to reach, but means that we can keep heading out in the right direction… your North Star
The North Star ‘Polaris’is a bright star always appearing due north in the sky. It has historically been used for navigation, to help travellers, or people who are lost move forward in the right direction.
Having what author and coach Martha Beck calls ‘a personal North Star’ creates a clear direction of travel for your life. Built by you it clarifies your purpose and is an agreement with yourself of the life you want to create. It reflects the best version of you and the best future regardless of current challenges or reality.
Having a clear direction of travel takes away frustrations and anxiety, real and lasting motivation comes from within when you take action in line with your North Star. Practically you can check in with yourself and others that your actions every day are constructive and lined up with what you care about. As your life changes and grows, your direction will change so the North Star should continually update to remain a truthful and inspiring beacon of what you care about.
Make your personal North Star
The travelling or journey metaphor for life is relatively common. It is a helpful one in the sense that it does reflect the idea of growth, development, progress, advance of time and foreward movement towards a destination. While it is really important to have a clear goal and clear focus you can be too goal focussed. Yes! too focussed on the ‘destination’.
Some years ago speaker addressing an audience of about 1,000 decried those who seemed to lack focus, who were not driven, who did not follow a ‘shortest route between two points’ – a straight line life programme. However I would like to suggest that while you should have a focus, a clear realistic, achievable objective the journey of life, living the days marking the stopover points savouring the special moments that make up the steps of the journey need to be savoured, reflected upon because there is significant growth in the journey itself – in that sense the journey is the destination.