Living On Purpose: Beyond the “In Order to” of Life — A Lesson in Mindfulness

I recently received some valuable coaching from Doug Silsbee during a follow up 1-on-1 coaching session after my attending his Septet Coaching Retreat.
( While I’m not promising what I’m about to share is the actual coaching he gave me, it is what I surmised after a few days of pondering upon our conversation.

We were talking about some of my daily practices including my new practice of Qigong that I was introduced to during the retreat. After pointing out that I maintained several of the practices as a way of preparing me for my day and so I could be thoroughly prepared for my coaching clients, he suggested that perhaps I could start practicing for the sake of practice, rather than do it “in order to” be prepared for my clients.

A few days later on Sunday morning, it finally hit home. Oh, what if I took the “in order to” out of my life, or at least went beyond just focusing on the end results. For example, a year or so ago while outside puttering in my garden I realized that gardening for me is not about the vegetables that come from the effort. In fact, given the rather paltry amount of produce that comes from my garden it would be far easier to simply go to a produce stand and purchase what I want. No, the process of digging in the soil, being out in nature, the whole experience of gardening is why I garden, and whatever comes out of the efforts in the form of food is a bonus.

Ok, so what if we apply this approach to the rest of life? As I tried this out on Sunday morning, I realized that the very experience of practicing 20 minutes of Yoga and Rodney Yee was sufficient onto itself when I let go on the notion that I was doing it to help stretch out my back so I could be better prepared for the day and especially for the upcoming volleyball tournament that starts on Monday evening. Yes, I receive all those benefits as a bonus, but when I approach Yoga in this way, I’m more present to the joyful, invigorating experience of Yoga.

As I continued to explore this, I realized that most of the time I take a shower “in order to” get clean, often missing the delectable experience of the hot water cascading over my body, the fragrance of the shampoo and soap. Even toweling myself off has in the past been mostly “in order to” get dry, rather than experiencing the sensual nature of a clean towel rubbed against my body.

As Doug pointed out in the coaching call, this is a subtle shift on the one hand, and yet on the other hand a profound shift in being able to experience deeper dimensions of being alive. What are you doing simply because it’s an “in order to” that you could experiment making this shift upon? Do you brush your hair in order to be well groomed yet miss the pleasant sensation of the brush upon your scalp, or brush your teeth simply as a habit while missing the pleasant, refreshing taste of the toothbrush and the sensation of having a clean mouth?

Try it out for a day or longer and see what it’s like. You may learn, as I have, that you’ve been going through much of life driven by “in order to” and missing much of the joy of living your life on purpose.

NOTE: I’d love to hear what comes out of your “In Order To” Experiment.
Please send your comments to me at