Finding Purpose: 5 Practical Suggestions You Can Do Today
Work doesn’t give you purpose. You give meaning to work.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy, but to matter…” Leo Rostein
Contribution makes you matter. Seek to contribute.
The affirmation of your contribution by others enhances fulfillment.
- Energizes action.
- Ignites emotion, sometimes painful.
- Makes life challenging. Life doesn’t get easier when you know why you’re here.
- Gives direction.
- Informs and evaluates decisions.
- Brings value to you and others.
- Explains intention. An intention provides a reason to act.
- Enables endurance.
- Creates dissatisfaction.
- Makes life feel like you’re always beginning. You never fully fulfil your aim in life.
5 Suggestions for finding purpose:
#1. Reflect on painful experiences.
Finding purpose includes understanding your response to pain and suffering. What pain are you solving?
How are you turning hurts into healing?
#2. Consider reasons behind recurring frustration.
Frustrations reveal something you want but don’t have. Finding purpose is understanding what you deeply want.
What pain or injustice or unhappiness have you witnessed that you just can’t live with?
List your dissatisfactions with others, yourself, and the world. What themes do you see?
#3. Explore your formative people.
Who are you emulating?
#4. Notice motivation.
What are you willing to do for free? What value does that bring to you? Others?
#5. Discover the value you naturally bring to others.
What do you do without trying? All my life people have told me I make them think. I don’t try to make them think. I just do.
What are you doing that feels like effortless effort?
What do people often say about you?
Contribution is about who you are before it’s about what you do.
What might people do to find or clarify their purpose?
Still curious: Who Do You Want to be When You Grow Old
Dan – Your four most recent posts have really resonated with me. I’ve been floundering a bit lately and your insights are helping me as I work to realign my thinking and approach. Much appreciated.
Thank you, Paul. It doesn’t feel good when the world looks fuzzy, but sometimes these are transformative moments. Thanks for the good word. I wish you well.
I’m an auditor. Our office expects the work papers to have a purpose, to explain why the work documented was worth doing. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen folks write as the purpose “To have a meeting”. I remind them that no one exists to hold a meeting. So explain WHY you had that meeting: To gain an understanding of a process, to learn about the process in depth, to share audit findings.
Thanks Jennifer. My wife is a CPA. She had her own business. Now she just handles Leadership Freak stuff. The work you folks do makes my head hurt!
I appreciate the insight on meetings. Here’s to a great weekend.
Happy Friday, Dan! I really enjoy the way you make me think. I read your posts first thing in the morning and then ponder the lesson/information throughout the day. Thank you!
Happy Friday to you, Lisa. You know how to give a compliment that matters. 🙂 I wish you continued growth and success.
Dan great post. To me the key items you listed were to learn from both your painful and frustrating experiences. When I mentor people those are the stories they relate to and hopefully learn from the most.
Thanks Brad. Sometimes the things we don’t want to share are the very things we should share. Cheers!
This is another great one, Dan! “How are you turning hurts into healing?”. This has so much resonance for the mess our healthcare system is in. Have a great weekend, and have a gelati for me!
Thank you, Amy. You don’t want to seek painful situations, but when they show up, they are opportunities. If you can, avoid painful situations. If you can’t avoid them, make the most of them. Cheers!
What do I do without trying? Scare people. It’s not that helpful…
Hi Mitch, Effortless is effort is doing something you love to do. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called it flow. Perhaps dissatisfaction is something that represents effortless effort for some. 😉
As always, you have my best.
The coaching course I did suggested that to find purpose you can think of a peak moment in your life – a time when you felt fully alive and you were capable of doing anything you wanted. Describing this moment can help uncover your purpose.
Or, contemplate a dream you hold for the future. What makes it important to you?
Thanks for this post. I have realised over the last two years that I effortlessly help people feel heard. This has given my life a new purpose.