Purpose is something you choose every day that is an expression of who you are, and that has influence and impact on the people around you.
What is your purpose? This is a great question if you have a ready answer, but if you don’t it may evoke a sense of disquiet, maybe even anxiety. It can be even more disturbing in our current world, where things are changing on a daily basis, and we begin to feel that all the change is sort of battering us around.
Yet, a sense of purpose is the very thing that can give an experience of stability and sureness as you navigate your way through each day. Let’s get something straight right now – purpose is different to a life goal – like being financially independent by 25, getting a degree, holding the senior position, and such like.
Purpose is about how you view your life, and how you choose to express yourself each moment of each day; being aware of the impact it has on those around you. By its very nature purpose is inspirational, it is large, it is something that you can access from within, and it is not a destination or a thing. So in times of change, which is an aspect of work life these days, it is your purpose that can hold you steady. When things seem chaotic and uncertain, you can bring calmness and focus by ensuring that the way you are responding is in line with your chosen purpose.
The word purpose can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. There is no single right way. For some, purpose might be to simply be having fun – somewhere in the world there is a party and they are going to find it. For others, it may be achieving maximum success – they are going to get out there and make it happen. Yet, research shows that the most enduring sense of satisfaction at work comes from purpose that is focused on service.
There are some jobs where the activity is in itself an act of service, such as a doctor or a teacher. For most of us working in an office, the act of service may not be so obvious, but when you look carefully, you will see that you do serve someone in what you do. As an example, customer support agents can connect themselves mentally to the larger work of their organisations, and take pride and purpose in the customers they help. Who do you serve? Connecting your day-to-day job — consciously – to those you’re ultimately serving, makes completing that work more purposeful.
To finding meaning in your work, change how you think about it.
“When we change the way we look at things, then our circumstances, or what we are experiencing, begins to change.” Dr Wayne Dyer
We each have a mental map which we use to frame our view of life, to give events and experiences meaning and a sense of order. This is purpose – a perspective or viewpoint – like a lens through which we experience events.
For example, a hospital cleaner seeing his work as a means to help ill people, rather than simply cleaning.
If you are unsure about your purpose, observe the people around you and notice which people you are drawn to. Usually, it is something in you that is having a positive resonance with something special about them. Identify what it is that is special and appealing, then explore where it is in you and find ways of expressing it.
While relationships look different at work than they do at home or in our social lives, they still matter. Developing positive collegial relationships at work, will generate more joy in the work that we do.
One way of doing this, is to identify a new or young employee you’d like to empower and offer to help them navigate through a challenge they may be experiencing.
Your job is a collection of tasks and interpersonal relationships assigned to you in your role. Mentally, reframe your job to better fit your motives, strengths and passions. Focusing on the skill and the relationships needed to complete your work, and dedicating yourself to perfecting that skill, fosters job satisfaction, engagement with your team, resilience and you begin to thrive at work.
For example, an accountant creating a new method of filing taxes to make their job less repetitive, or an insurance agent seeing her job as “working to get people back on track after a car accident”, rather than “processing insurance claims”.
“Most of us don’t have the luxury of working solely for fun. We may enjoy our jobs, but we also work to earn money and pay bills. For most of us, work in and of itself is a meaningful act of service. Parents often work hard to invest in their children; and those without kids often help support aging parents or other relatives. Those without families often use their resources to support organisations they love in the community or their friends in times of need. It’s rare to find someone working with only their personal needs in mind.
Who are you working for? Identify that person or group of people. When the hours are difficult or the tasks are unglamorous, remember that your work is an act of service for those you care about in your personal life. Keeping this front of mind will help you tie more purpose into your work, even when accomplishing the most tedious of tasks.” John Coleman
All these expressions bring great value to any situation, most especially in work situations where the pressure is on to perform. We have all experienced how this work ‘pressure’ causes people to go into a stressed and anxious state, where they are unable to perform at their best. Bringing purposeful intent, as described, helps liberate people from the stress state, where they are able to bring more of themselves to their work. A true enabling gift.
Enacting purpose in this way, releases a wonderful cocktail of positive emotions for yourself – joy, fulfillment, warmth, connection, pleasure, and so much more.
And the people around you are enriched by being liberated into a positive emotional experience. Everyone wins when you are carrying out your purpose.
Achieving your purpose is not reliant on other people’s decisions, available finance, your education, skills, genes, or age. Purpose is not a goal, it is not a check list, and it is not a measurable achievement. Purpose isn’t magic — it’s something we must consciously create. It is the way you choose to show up in your life every day. Once created, PURPOSE PURSUES YOU!
So, you can choose it now, you can be it now. Claim your personal compass to guide you each day.
In case no one told you today: You’re beautiful. You’re loved. You’re needed. You’re alive for a reason. – unknown