How and why to find purpose in your work
It’s no secret that when you find purpose in your work it provides endless motivation and engagement.
Probably one of the most popular quotes that sums this up is “when you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life”. (unknown)
Now that quote isn’t exactly true, you can find purpose and still have hard days but it’s purpose that keeps you going when the days get tough. When you find purpose, it stretches beyond goals, enables you to take more risks, overcome obstacles and persevere.
Because you’re striving for something that is bigger than you. When you find purpose, you realise that the size of your challenge is somewhat impossible, and in many ways this reduces fear of failing. Having goals is different.
When you set yourself a goal, you have an expectation that you’ll achieve it. A goal, if well written, is stretching and time bound. The whole point of having a goal is to push yourself out of your comfort zone to achieve extraordinary things. And when you do this, rightly, it gives rise to self doubt, fear and uncertainty. That’s the process of learning (if you want to learn more about that, check out this blog).
So you might say that when you find purpose it also gives you confidence.
All sounds great right? How then do you find it?
1. It’s not luck
I’d say there are a handful of people who know what they want to do when they grow up, and then there’s the rest of us that spend our adult life trying to figure this out.
Some people get lucky, but the majority of us have to work it out. So firstly, you need to recognise that it’s not luck. Your purpose isn’t going to magically arrive in your lap, it’s something you need to apply yourself to. So if you’re up for that, keep reading.
2. Be guided by your strengths
A good place to start is with your strengths and talents. We enjoy what we’re good at and we’re drawn to activities that play to our natural strengths.
Building our work around the things that we’re good at will naturally invite more fun, flow and engagement to our days. This is our optimum state for realising what sets us alight and inspires us.
It takes a lot of energy to achieve something that we’re not very good at. For me, that’s being planned and organised. Of course I can do it, and I do it pretty well in business, but it takes me a lot of energy, focus and attention. However, give me a complex, messy problem to solve and I’m all over it.
Pay attention to what you’re good at, and what you enjoy and this will enable you to move in the direction of your purpose.
3. Don’t look too hard
Finding your purpose is more about exploration and paying attention to the journey than it is finding the destination.
The more pressure you put on yourself to find your purpose, the more it’s going to stress you out and concern you. It’s a big question, and one that is unlikely to be answered overnight.
The best thing to do is to start to pay attention.
As well as playing to your strengths, start to notice what you’re drawn to.
- Who do you like to be around?
- What sorts of topics or projects get you excited?
- Can you notice any common themes amongst them?
- What of you look back over your life?
- Have there been any patterns or commonalities that suggest a purpose?
My purpose is about enabling others, fundamentally to have more happiness and fulfilment. I know that sounds a bit ‘coachy’ but when I look back over my life I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh, being there for friends in need, helping people get started with their plans and ideas. I get a lot of joy from seeing others achieve, learn and grow.
Growing up I had no idea what a ‘coach’ was, there is no way I could have planned the career I have today. It’s been a series of evolutions, and it will almost certainly continue to evolve as I follow what gives me energy and what brings me joy.
Now for those of you who that sounds a bit too ‘woo woo’ for, let me just share this.
There’s nothing easy about following the energy, it requires a high level of self awareness, bold decision making and courage. I’m not a coach who preaches that a better life is simply a case of manifesting it. The life you want is a series of choices, risk taking, bold action and challenge. I love a bit of manifestation, but it comes with the caveat of taking massive action!
4. You have more than one option
Most of us assume that our purpose is one tangible thing. I like to think of it as a number of options. And not only that but your purpose will evolve over time as your life changes.
When we’re in our early career, purpose can be about chasing the money, it’s about the basic needs of building your security and independence. As you get older, and maybe have a family, other things become important. In your late 30’s to 40’s, we start to look at the world in a different way and crave a deeper connection to our reason for being here and the contribution we can make.
I know this, because wealth alone does not bring happiness. Purpose does.
There’s nothing woo woo about it, it’s a human instinct to want meaning in our lives and our work.
So, don’t get hung up on searching for one thing. Get out there and build a bank of experiences, help people, help the environment, join a ‘greater good’ cause, engage with young and old people, be of service. Grab life’s experience and invest your time and energy in them.
If you want to find your purpose, get out there and start living a fuller life.
You’ll soon find what you’re drawn to and what feels like a chore.
5. Live life by your values
Your purpose is wrapped up in your values. Your values are deep unconscious needs that you have, which when met, lead you to feel fulfilled and motivated. When your values aren’t met, you can feel frustration, boredom and dissatisfaction.
Think of your values like an ingredient list and a fast track to finding what you need.
If you can make decisions in line with your values you’re winning.
If you want to learn more about your values take a look at this blog post Values: Your Secret Weapon to Finding Fulfilment.
So there you have it, my top tips for finding more purpose in your work.
If you’re reading this because you’re feeling a bit stale and unfulfilled in your work then check out my FREE ONLINE CAREER WORKSHOP below. I’d be delighted to welcome you along 🙂
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