Find Your Purpose
What a beast of a topic to go through today folks! This is one I have wanting to write about for a long time as so many clients come to me saying that they feel they have no purpose in their work or even in their lives.
This then leads them to admit that they have lost all enjoyment in their work as their passion for their career has ebbed away.
It happened to me and I had no idea why or even what was going on - until it was too late and I really struggled.
First things first on this one folks - your work does not have to be your purpose. In fact, I would even caution against having your entire purpose related to your job.
Bit of an odd piece of advice coming from a career coach who constantly works with people to find meaningful and fulfilling work, however, your purpose comes from you - it is yours - not anyone else's, not what society dictates, or what your parents thought or what your friends or significant other says - it is solely yours.
And guess what? We change. As we go through life our purpose will evolve as we do and we need to be able to adapt accordingly.
Long gone are the days when you had a job for life - now we have the luxury where we can shift roles, industries and transition into new careers.
Therefore, carry your purpose with you rather than desperately trying to find and then recreate it.
At the risk of getting super philosophical we do need to define what purpose means to us before we start heading out to find it.
I often ask clients "what is your why? - the reason you get out of bed in the morning" And no, this is not about going to work just to earn money to pay the bills. This is deeper, it is ongoing, it has impact on the world around you - you make that impact.
Your purpose guides you, stabilises you in tricky times, brings your joy and intrigues you.
The top two 'beast' questions with this one are:
Why am I here?
What is the purpose of life?
Now, I find those incredibly difficult to grapple with and to answer - I often end up going down an existentialist crisis rabbit hole and there is rarely a carrot of an answer at the bottom.
Instead I like to adopt the approach of the Japanese and follow my joy. I know, I know - it sounds all very Marie Kondo, however, this is in fact the concept of ikigai which is something that gives you a reason for living and that something is positive, joyful and fulfilling.
It suggests that if you follow your joy by doing what you love in your work you will discover your purpose sweet spot of what the world needs is what you love to do and what you are good at.
Your purpose or ikigai is therefore created from your passions as well as from practical means.
How can we get to this enlightened state? Let's start with some questions first of all (who would have thought?!)
What do you love to do?
What are you really good at doing? (I mean - really good at - what do people always ask your help with?)
Merging your answers from the two above questions - what would the world pay you for? (What does the world need and how much will they pay?)
Now this all may seem a bit too much, especially when we are dealing with day to day life stresses and strains of work demands, family commitments, trying to carve out some spare time for ourselves amidst socialising, ironing and finding clean pants to wear.
However, having a purpose can help with all of that as it fuels our energy by motivating us and driving us forwards, it gives us direction and can lead to better health both physically as well as mentally.
Chances are we will live longer if we have a clearly defined purpose and we'll have a stronger social support network as we will feel more connected to others thereby combatting loneliness and all the horrors that brings.
We may never achieve our purpose - and in fact in some ways we shouldn't as it helps to motivate us and drive us to improve and develop. Once we factor in joy or ikigai into this then our purpose becomes much easier to find or even to create.
Yes folks - I don't believe anyone's purpose is secretly hidden away or kept from us because we are in a crap job or with the wrong person. I believe it is up to us to create our purpose - our ikigai.
We can use individuality, our talents, strengths, skillsets and positive traits to inform our purpose.
As I mentioned before - I believe it is up to us to be proactive to create our purpose and to keep it alive. It's easy to get bogged down in the day to day and lose sight of what we are striving for, however, the more we work on our own improvement and self-development the more apparent our purpose will become.
Let's delve a bit deeper into how we can attain purpose.
Develop and maintain a growth mindset
Say yes to opportunities and take on challenges even if you fear you may fail. Accept and use feedback to help you improve and practice continuous self-learning every day.
I find listening to podcasts whilst I am ironing or cleaning helps the time to fly by and sparks so many ideas.
Create your personal vision statement
This is your roadmap in a way as it combines your values, your why and how you will go about doing this in your life and work. I tend to use the exercise Your Life's Purpose with my clients when it comes to this stage - seemingly very simple questions but once you start thinking on a deeper level so much more is uncovered.
In any way you possibly can but because you truly mean it. A lot of people journal, many note down 3 good things per day. I struggle with this as I am poor at making time for it so am setting myself the challenge to stop scrolling and meditate then note down what I am grateful for.
This is a great way to calm and anchor your mind as well - a win -win!
Create a community purpose by giving back
Oh how we have missed our tribes throughout Covid and the numerous lockdowns. With more and more of us working from home on we will continue to miss the people who make our communities whether that's work, different friends or social groups.
It is often certain individuals who drive these groups so consider how you can begin to do more, give back in an altruistic way or just to be present for friends and family.
Being part of a group, especially one which is focused on giving back to others enhances our feelings of connection to others and strengthens the bonds we make.
transform your pain into your purpose
We all need time to recover form set backs, however, we can tend to wallow and spiral downwards so aim to use challenges and failures as means of learning and improving. By doing so you not only build your resilience and know-how but your courage and confidence too.
turn your passions into your purpose
Many of my clients have no idea what to do when they make a career change or transition. So let's start with what you love to do; your hobbies, your interests, the stuff that makes you smile. If you feel these are limited then look back to see what you use to enjoy doing or try something completely new. This is a discovery of you - you need to go out there and explore what works for you and that takes time, energy and comes with a risk of things not always working out.
Spend time with those who inspire you and learn from them. Consider who you inspire and motivate - what more do they need and want from you? Find your role models, your champions both in and out of work and then start to pay it back by doing the same for others.
If you are struggling to find people to inspire you look outside of your immediate sphere and also into the past - you may not personally know someone but their story and achievement's will often spur you on.
Anyone into personal development is allowed to roll their eyes at this one as it is spoken about a LOT. However, and ladies this one is directed specifically towards you, you are allowed to come first. You are allowed to put yourself first. You are allowed to do things only for your enjoyment and relaxation.
When we are relaxed, our brains are much more creative and able to effectively problem solve so will lead you closer to your purpose.
Similar to self-care however this is much more about your internal scripts, how you talk to yourself and, crucially, how you judge yourself. Big tip here - stop judging yourself.
This is very hard as it is focused on accepting yourself and knowing your self-worth which we all have - we are born with self-worth, however, it is slowly eroded away and replaced by self-esteem which we invariably get from others rather from ourselves.
Discovering your purpose or your ikigai is not easy or a quick process, yet it is crucial for well-rounded and fulfilling life as it provides an inner compass, creates connections and opens up opportunities.
Your Purpose Blockers
There will be challenges along the road to creating your purpose and the stand out ones are the need for certainty and any lurking limiting beliefs.
Let's tackle certainty first - this is our need for stability, routines and predictability. These elements make us feel safe as we know what to expect, we generally have some semblance of control and we feel anchored.
The problem is that too much certainty keeps us stuck in our comfort zones so we are less likely to try things and therefore unlikely to find or create our purpose.
It helps to say yes more to opportunities, to challenge ourselves to go for it and to ask ourselves:
If I don't do this what will the outcome be?
If I do do this what will the result be?
What opportunities are available to me?
Those pesky limiting beliefs can really hold us back from achieving our purpose and potential. Again they are there to keep us safe, however, once again we will find ourselves stagnant and often have a low opinion of ourselves as it is the negative inner voice which regularly pipes up with such beliefs.
To help combat this disconnect the fact from the fiction. These are just your beliefs - they are not true. They may be comments made by other people without any evidence. So ask yourself:
How is this thought helping me?
How is this thought hindering me?
What is true about this thought?
Link your purpose to your goals rather than just ploughing in with your goals - ensure that they are relevant and feed your purpose.
Your Purpose at Work
Push to understand your purpose at work - if this is unclear speak to the powers that be to get more of an understanding. 9 out of 10 people would accept less pay if they were working in a more meaningful job so strive to find the meaning in yours.
You will have higher levels of job satisfaction, your productivity will increase, you will feel more connected to colleagues.
A few questions to kick start this process:
What is your organisation's purpose/vision/mission?
What are it's goals?
How do these align with your purpose and goals?
What is the purpose of your role?
How does it benefit others?
How do you help / benefit others?
How can you be even more purposeful in your job?
How can you help others connected to your work even more?
If you are still coming up against a brick wall then it may time for a career transition or a move to a different organisation - if so then allow me to help you find the best way forward.