Personal Purpose – Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?
I have written a couple of blogs now about purpose, both in corporate terms and personal.
In this post I will introduce the notion of personal purpose and offer some questions you should pose yourself.
My favourite quote of all time has to be Gandhi’s “Be the Change you want to see in the world”. He also famously once snapped at a reporter who questioned his anti-violence views and said “I make the history, you just write about it”.
Gandhi epitomised the notion of Personal Purpose. But we don’t all have to be as noble as Gandhi to find ours.
Why is personal purpose important?
Imagine being on board a ship with no rudder meandering through the seas. Occasionally we will stumble on land, but we don’t know where and if the inhabitants will be hostile. We also can’t avoid a big storm. This is just like life without purpose, the purpose is the rudder that keeps us on course.
Research by UCL, published in the Lancet shows that in a study of over 9,000 English people with an average age of 65. It used questionnaire answers to measure a type of wellbeing called ‘eudemonic wellbeing’, which relates to your sense of control, feeling that what you do is worthwhile, and your sense of purpose in life. The research showed that those in high category of eudemonic wellbeing were 30% more likely to live longer than those in the low category.
Whatever it is, our purpose should be the reason we get out of bed in the mornings.
Are we really following our purpose, and do we actually know what it is?
Many of us are simply going through the motions of life, just meandering like the ship with no rudder. We go to work to earn money to pay the bill to survive, but not necessarily to thrive. We bumble from decade to decade without a plan or reason. Now I know it’s good to do that from time to time, just see where the world takes you, and indeed in our younger years, when we perhaps have yet to discover our true purpose that’s probably exactly what we should do. But if we are still bumbling through life at 50 maybe it’s time to sit back and reflect, why am I here?
What I not going to tell you in this article is what your purpose should be, that’s for you to decide. But I am going suggest that you think about what your purpose is and if you are truly fulfilling it. If you aren’t, what are you going to do about it?
I previously discussed MPS a great tool to try to align your career with your purpose, but your job is not the sum total of the issue. What do you do outside of work to meet your purpose?
A note on religion
Religion for many is that purpose, that set of values that can guide them through life. I’m not religious but can see how faith can help the journey.
Bringing it all together
Finding your purpose (or reconnecting with it) will bring immediate benefits to our wellbeing and could extend our life. Follow these steps;
- Write down what you care about in life – what’s important to you, what are your values
- Think about where you want to go in life. Think about what you want your obituary to sound like, what’s your legacy? Write this down
- Compare 1 and 2 above to where you are now, what are the big differences?
- Think about what needs to change to get you on track with your purpose – write it down and make an action plan for change
- Make a public declaration of your intent. This will get your emotional brain more committed to not failing.
Get a coach – have someone to challenge and support you on the journey. This could be a professional coach, it could be a friend