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How to find your purpose on purpose!

Young woman sitting on car contemplating how to find her purpose, on purpose.
How to find your purpose, on purpose

Ever wonder why some people seem to be born with a clear sense of purpose while others are not too sure why they’re on this earth? Well if you’re someone who’s ‘waiting for a sign’ or you’re wondering if you’ll ever know, you’re not alone. Here’s how to find your purpose, ….on purpose!

So what’s the big deal with purpose?

The most resilient people in the world have a clear sense of purpose.

This clarity enables them to learn all they can about their mission on purpose (pun intended) and focus their efforts like a laser towards that purpose. And they’re better able to persevere through challenges and set backs because they can easily recall why it’s worth it, to them.

A purpose could be as big as ending world hunger, as close-in as treating everyone you meet with respect, or just being the best parent you can be for your children.

In books, in the media, and articles like this one, we tend to hold up these grand examples of a ‘life’s purpose’ such as Mahat Ghandi’s non-violent stand for the independence of the people of India, or much more recently,  Greta Thunberg’s mission to end global warming.

While these are very noble missions, you don’t have to be famous, be in the news, or be addressing thousands of people at once, in order to have a meaningful purpose and make a significant contribution to the world.

Everywhere, the world is full of people making a difference, many doing it one person at a time. Think you can’t make a difference one person at a time? Anna Vital, founder of Adioma suggests the average person will interact with over 80,000 people in their lives – that’s a small City!

A parent raising their children to be healthy, happy, and good in the world. An auto mechanic who wants each car they work on to be perfectly tuned. A leader in an organization that takes an interest in each one of her staff. With the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve seen hospital cleaning staff openly acknowledged for their life saving efforts. My dad is in a care home right now. Think that cleaning staff makes a difference for him? You better believe it!

What’s the down side of not knowing my purpose?

If one does not know to which port one is sailing then no wind seems favorable

Seneca

One of the draw backs when we’re not clear on what our personal purpose is that when we’re going through a challenging time, we can start have doubts like; ‘why am I doing this’, “I never signed up for this’ or ‘what’s the point of even trying?’

And as this quote by Seneca (above) suggests, if we’re not clear on our purpose, we might not even SEE the resources or help that is available to us, to help us to get more of what we want in order to make that difference.

I think what can happen for a lot of us is that as life presents it’s many tasks, paths, and responsibilities, we get caught up in delivering on what’s right in front of us.

This doesn’t mean we’re not ‘serving our purpose’ – we might be on it, or close to it and we just don’t realize it.

Or we’re not really delivering on our most heartfelt purpose and we feel it.

So why bother? I mean, most of us are making our way through life quite successfully and as long as we’re making ‘a’ difference, who cares?

Whether you’re focused on providing food and shelter for your family, or just trying to deliver on a commitment because you said you would, we can lose touch with our own sense of purpose. 

Sometimes we’re already on our purpose.

So taking time to get back in touch with, clarify, or find your purpose will help you to:

focus your efforts more, 

re-ignite your motivation to get up in the morning,

persevere through challenges,

and feel more confidence in knowing that you are making a difference.

Many of us have read Victor Frankyl’s Mans Search for Meaning and the notion that those who had a sense of purpose were more likely to survive internment. 

In his book DRIVE, Daniel Pink says that “it’s in our Nature to seek purpose and having purpose gives us drive”.

In the summer of 2020 the Covid-19 Pandemic had hit and hit hard. Most organizations were in triage mode cutting back on all services that were not essential like leadership training, coaching, or culture.  I didn’t know how to help.  I could see leaders and HR professionals within organizations struggling to respond to the changing health orders: changing safety protocols, setting up work-from-home programs, having to temporarily lay people off, then bring them back.   When I’d reach out to ask how I can help, they didn’t even have time to answer.  What helped me get out of bed in the morning? 

Well to be honest, it was a bit of hind site. But it was my purpose. 

My purpose is to re-ignite as a sense of hope and possibility in everyone I meet. To leave them feeling like ‘I can do this’. So I started designing this on-line course called Reboot Your Resilience Now for leaders and HR professionals or anyone who was feeling the weight of the pandemic. It was a tough slog designing and developing the course. Even though it seemed like there was no training, it gave me the motivation to get up each day and persevere through the learning curve of webinar software, microphones, video cameras, knowing at some point, I could share that workshop and give someone a renewed sense of hope.

How about you?   

You may be someone who: 

1. Knows EXACTLY what your purpose is and you can express it. or, 

2.You have a sense of it – but you’re not that sure.  or,

4.You’re not sure at all

Well know matter where you are on this spectrum, taking time to think about your purpose will help you to clarify your purpose, rediscover it, or identify and declare it for the first time.  

It’s important to note that – while a purpose can come from divine intervention or some outside inspiration – you can also CHOOSE what you want it to be.

Here’s a quick exercise below that might help you clarify your purpose.

As you go through these exercises, don’t worry about creating a cool mission statement like we might see on the wall in the lobby of some business, {although you certainly can,} instead focus on reconnecting with the essence of what you want to contribute to the world, stand for, or be more of.       

You can come back to these exercises anytime, as you feel your purpose shift, or you just need to remind yourself.

How to find your purpose:

Question 1: A High Point:

Think of a time in your life when you felt like you were living your purpose, even though you may not have articulated it. You probably felt proud, passionate, and happy. You might have even felt tired as you poured your passion into something that was so important to you.

  1. What were you doing at the time? 
  2. Who were you with?
  3. What was it that made it so satisfying, exalting, rewarding, or important? 

Question 2: Your Best Self: 

So often, our purpose can show up in our lives at times and we may not be aware of it.  People compliment you on something you do. You’ve received awards or acknowledgement.  Maybe you’ve been told you’re a good teacher, problem solver, or ‘you’re that person that brings everyone else together!’. 

  1. What have other people told you that you’re good at or thanked you for?

  2. What words would you use to describe your best self? (you don’t have to be modest – go for it). 

  3. What are you most proud of? 

Question 3: What do you Stand for? 

Have you ever wondered to yourself, ‘if only everyone would just …, the world would be a better place? Your answer to that question might provide a clue as to your purpose. For example, you may see how important it is for everyone to treat everyone with respect. And so, you go through your life listening intently, acknowledging what you’ve heard, and modelling for others how to treat people with respect. 

Or perhaps there are things that you won’t stand for, you don’t want to see in the world or that drive you crazy? For example, you hate to see people disrespect the environment or treat others with disrespect. That can be a clue.

  1. The world would be a better place if only people would just…..
  2. What’s one thing that’s most important to you in your life? 
  3. If you could make a (bigger) difference in the world (and you can) what would you do, be doing, or be more like?
  4. What won’t you stand for?

Now, reflect back on those 3 primer questions you just completed.

  • What are some words that stand out for you?
  • What commonalities or themes seem to emerge? 
  • Which ones resonate with you?  Like ‘ya that’s it’. 

For some people, they’ll be thinking ‘ya but I already knew this’. GREAT! See if you can articulate it in a clean and clear sentence. Not for everyone else but for you – so that when the going gets tough, it’s easy to recall.

Some of you may get an ‘aha’ like, ‘ah this makes sense, I never realized’. Way to go. Now take some time to clarify it so you can call on it when you need it. 

And some may think ‘I still don’t’ see it’ (or feel it). that’s ok.  Keep pondering some of your answers or ponder these questions.  Share some of your answers with family members or friends and ask for feedback and ideas. It’s less about having a ‘statement’ and more about reconnecting with what’s most important to you in a way that can help guide your decisions day to day and give you that motivation to push through when the going gets tough.    

Once you’ve got something close, try saying it out loud.  Try sharing it with someone you trust and ask for feedback and ideas.

Hint, if as you go to share this out-loud and you start to get choked up, or excited, or adamant? You’re probably on to your purpose!

A final note. While some people are in a job that clearly pays them to fulfill their purpose each day, others may find themselves in a vocation that seems less obvious.  Well, you don’t have to ‘quit your job’, launch into a new profession or become an activist (although you can).  There are many ways to live your life’s purpose. 

Good chance you’re already on your purpose

There will be ‘aspects’ of your current role that are part of your purpose (it’s probably part of what attracted you to that role).  There may be LOTS of opportunities to fulfill your purpose in your existing role and you’ve just gotten ‘caught up’ and forgotten.  Now you can look for every day opportunities to live more of your purpose.  And many, many people fulfill their purpose by serving in the community, raising healthy families, or just treating everyone they meet with compassion and respect.

So what’s your purpose?  

If you’d like me to send you a short workbook on creating your purpose, send us an email to info@lidera.ca .

If you’re interested in our Reboot Your Resilience Now program  call us at 604 324-5900 or email at info@lidera.ca   

    

 

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