Sometimes you read something at precisely the right time–isn’t it amazing and wonderful when that happens? I realize now that it’s at least partially a personality trait for me, but periodically I grapple with questions of purpose and priorities. Am I doing the right things? Am I on track? On the heels of winding up a big work project and heading into a term break week for school, I have time and mental space to think and evaluate. And then I heard about Melissa Camara Wilkins’ book Do Your Thing (currently FREE in e-book form). I can hear my friend Ainsley saying, “Coincidence? I think not!”
Not only did I read the book (It’s 179 pages, although some of those are graphics), I took the time to do the exercises, and I think that made the book more valuable for me. The information you’ll find is similar to what you’ve probably read elsewhere about taking control of your activities, living on purpose, and basically taking a life inventory. But Wilkins writes about those topics with a fresh voice that is at once encouraging, realistic, and challenging.
I found the author’s realism refreshing. Often I read books like this and the suggestions or perspectives are so pie-in-the-sky compared to the reality of my situation that it’s hard to find traction. Wilkins, on the other hand, navigates the space between duty and possibility with aplomb. I thought she did a wonderful job of suggesting ways to make incremental changes when you only have space on the margins of life, while also offering encouragement to really evaluate how every choice can be a choice toward your calling and purpose, rather than a step away, and how those can add up to big changes and a more grounded life.
I find this sort of life inventory helpful. Too much can become morbid introspection, but every now and then it brings clarity and enhances my perspective. It helps me to see how many areas are actually going right. The squeaky wheels always get the grease, so if you never take time to notice how many things are squared away, it can skew your frame of mind. As I took the time to answer the questions Wilkins poses throughout the book, I was pleased to see how many areas are working, and where solutions have taken hold. I also benefitted from writing down some problem areas. Seeing a problem summarized on one line helps me to begin thinking of solutions, or to identify root issues of which the problem is only a symptom. You know, sometimes it’s just a messy laundry room and sometimes it’s actually an attitude or process failure.
Along the way, Wilkins challenges readers to think through their mindsets, and to explore options rather than accepting blanket prescriptions. For example, she advises examining an activity that drains or exhausts you and considering whether the problem is your attitude–in which case reframing it will help–or if you’re trying to live up to someone else’s expectation–in which case you ask if you could do it less often, get help with it, outsource it, etc.
If you’re the sort of person who has always firmly understood your purpose and always has all of your ducks in a row and priorities set in stone, Do Your Thing is not the book for you. But if you find that your purpose and callings have changed over time, or if you’ve unwittingly allowed other people or our broader culture to dictate how you spend your time and energy, or if you are in a season of feeling distracted, overwhelmed, or pulled in too many directions, I think this book would be well worth your time.
Do you ever take a step back and take stock of your life, activities, and purpose?