On the other side of the coin, a couple of days ago I sat next to Dama do Bling on an airplane. Dama WHO, you might be asking? Well she's the hip hop queen of Mozambique. She told me she studied law and then decided that wasn't where her passion lay, so she started singing and has never looked back.
The cross-purpose is the thief in the night, the beautiful Siren which lures us onto the rocks and leaves our dreams and goals high and dry. It is the force which allows us to buy a flash and unnecessary car when we're actually trying to pay off a house, or which gives us permission to stuff our faces full of high calorie carbs when we're trying to lose weight, or has us chase seductive and unattainable prizes at the cost of stability and security.
In my last blog I spoke about the challenge of balancing the multiple (conscious) purposes we have in our lives for our health, careers, relationships and so on. However, at least in that scenario we know what we are trying to achieve and just need to prioritize and balance the purposes thoughtfully.
The issue with the cross-purpose is that it is an imposter, much of the time unseen and unnoticed, which sneaks in and sabotages the best laid plans. For those of you who play golf, how many times have you set out to play a conservative, sensible round of golf, more or less to your handicap, and then towards the end of the round discovered that you have actually been trying to play like a glory-boy, have played high risk shots and have paid for it with a dismal score? Something inside your head changed during the round and you didn't notice until it was too late.
The first technique in seeing off cross-purposes is to ensure that you have well defined and realistic purposes in place in your life which you have bought into and honour with all your heart. When you know where you are going, the path becomes as clear as a highway and you will simply not deviate onto the rocky ground when a goat track materializes in front of you. As the saying goes, 'If you don't know where you're going, any road will lead you there'.
The second technique is to notice when what you are doing is simply not serving you. It may be impacting your health, harming your relationship, luring you away from your passion or simply sabotaging your bigger picture. The moment you notice something like that, you can be sure a cross-purpose is at work and you are already a part of its manipulation. Identify and render it powerless over you. Like Jason's (of the Argonauts fame) approach to the Sirens, perhaps you will be required to tie yourself to the mast of your own ship in order to resist the lure. You know what it will take, but understand that cross-purposes come into play because of their allure, so that is what needs to be seen for what it is: a false promise of gratification at the expense of what really matters.
The important question for you is: How clear are you about the purposes you have for your life and all its facets? Any lack of clarity will open the space for a cross-purpose to come galloping in and steal what you stand for.