Happy New Year! You’ve probably done some stocktaking of your past challenges and achievements in 2017, so this new year is a great opportunity for making a fresh start and moving forward in an even more positive direction – or planning a with purpose.
According to Oxford Dictionaries, ‘purpose’ is: ‘the reason for which something is… created or for which something exists’. In other words – what are you here for?
It also means ‘A person’s sense of resolve or determination’. What fires you up?
Where Gladness and Hunger Meet
To paraphrase Frederick Buechner, your purpose, or vocation, is ‘the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger.’ This involves a relationship between you and the world – one based on your delight or passion in satisfying a market or social need. Do what you love to do – for wider benefit.
Our purpose is what gives our life meaning – it establishes our place in the world. Knowing and living your purpose makes for a very satisfying life.
To identify your purpose and review your relationship with it, please answer the following questions:
- What is your life really about? What is your purpose?
- Observing your life up to now, if someone were to guess what your life purpose is – what would they say it was?
- Is this what you really WANT your life purpose to be?
Looking for purpose…
Most people experience some dissatisfaction with aspects of their life on occasion. Some clients come to me for coaching because they feel that the work they do is not meaningful to them – or to others. Sometimes their work seems purposeless, or, at least, it is not consistent with their own values and sense of purpose.
So, they seek a sense of purpose or meaning – perhaps outside work, or they come for coaching to support them through a career transition, or in changing direction.
Such clients often tell me they want to ‘find’ their purpose. However, what if it isn’t something lost ‘out there’? What if we can create our purpose ourselves, and take control, rather than wandering helplessly, looking for the unknown? Instead of being a mysterious existing thing that we have to seek out, it is something we can all actively construct and cultivate. In our work, as well as in the rest of life.
In his Harvard Business Review article You Don’t Find Your Purpose — You Build It, John Coleman says, “In achieving professional purpose, most of us have to focus as much on making our work meaningful as in taking meaning from it. Put differently, purpose is a thing you build, not a thing you find.”
There are numerous ways to identify and explore your own purpose. In her Forbes article, Six Ways To Discover Your Life Purpose, Mei Mei Fox gives some useful exercises that may help you, including vision-boarding.
‘Purpose’ isn’t the holy grail or a singular thing, to be found in only one place. John Coleman goes on to say:
“It’s not purpose but purposes we are looking for — the multiple sources of meaning that help us find value in our work and lives. Professional commitments are only one component of this meaning, and often our work isn’t central to our purpose but a means to helping others, including our families and communities. Acknowledging these multiple sources of purpose takes the pressure off finding a single thing to give our lives meaning.”
Questions to Stimulate Your Thinking
Given the fact that you can create purpose – or purposes – in your life, here are some Life Purpose questions taken from Jenny Rogers’ book, Coaching Skills (p. 153). I invite you to answer these, to help you to explore your passion and purpose:
- What do other people constantly say that they value about you?
- If money was not an issue, what would you do?
- What do you enjoy most about your current job?
- What skill or task do you perform so easily that you don’t need to think about it?
- What do you enjoy most about your non-work life?
- What unrealized goals are there for you?
- What themes or threads run through your life?
- What do you want to leave behind you as a legacy?
- Who are you when you are at your most generous, most loving and showing the most integrity?
- Finish the sentence: ‘The purpose of my life is…’
- Complete this sentence 10 more times.
- Then add an extra one, for luck! You should now have 12 ‘purposes’.
- Group the sentences/ purposes/ concepts into themes.
- Then prioritize or rank them, in order of importance to you.
After reflection, the next thing to do is to take steps to achieve your intention and purpose. This requires planning for action.
Passion + Daily Action = Purposeful Life
- What is important to you? What do you stand for?
- In what ways can you, or do you, fulfil your purpose?
- Identify daily actions you will take, to achieve and to live your life purpose.
There’s no better purpose in life than to live your purpose. A longitudinal study discovered that people with life purpose have 15% less risk of early death. It is literally a matter of life and death!
Do you feel that you are incorporating your purpose in what you do?
If you would like to, please download my coaching programme brochure – Women’s Leadership Coaching – For Women in Development – specifically designed for women working in global development.
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