When someone asks you what your purpose is, how do you feel? Overwhelmed, unsure, inadequate?
It can feel, like ‘a what is the meaning of life’ type question. One that you’d like to be able to answer, but that you could ponder on forever.
Your purpose in life is not static, and doesn’t have to be grand and world changing, but it could be. For me being on purpose is about living in a way that honours the things that you hold dear, not just in words but deeds also.
This is a purpose driven organisation, which helps teenagers to develop entrepreneurial spirit, agility & flexibility, character, self-esteem and good mental health by connecting them to industries such as Arts, Media, Science, Technology and Business. We encourage young people to enjoy their teenage years, leading them to future career success.
My purpose emerged from an issue, where I noticed that my teen daughter was suffering some challenges of peer pressure and self-esteem, a need to help girls who had come from humble backgrounds like myself with a lack of role models and access to career information and a desire to pay it forward. 5 years on we have touched the lives of over 2,000 teens nationally and run over 20 events!
Of course, you don’t have to start a social enterprise to fulfil your purpose in life, but here are 3 questions to ask yourself to find purpose in your work:
1. What would not happen if I wasn’t present?
You are probably familiar with the story of the cleaner at NASA who was asked what he did, and replied: “I’m part of the team that put people on the moon.” He was aware of his role in the big picture and how it connected with what was important to him, try doing the same thinking for yourself. However small, you will be making a difference.
2. What guides my actions?
My motivation now comes from seeing the difference I make to other’s lives through supporting them to develop themselves and become the people they want to be. What about you?
Knowing what motivates you helps you align your work with what’s important to you. Think about your values, your inner compass, what is most important to you in your work and how your current role fulfils this. Does money matter most or is it your relationships with colleagues and being part of a team? Being creative and innovative or giving back through your work?
3. How will I know that I have purpose in my work?
Seeing the results of our hard work helps to motivate us to keep going and shows us how far we have come. Think about what you’ve achieved over the last year and what you feel proud of.
You could also think about how your organisation measures performance and success? Maybe there are metrics or targets in place? If so, how do you or your team perform against them? And what impact does this have on the on the business’ performance? If there are no metrics in place, could you set some up?
Final thought: Could you contribute in other ways?
Sometimes your job doesn’t deliver on your purpose and because of circumstances you are not able to make a job move immediately. In these situations, perhaps you could coach or mentor team members? Or volunteer or set something up outside of the day job that feels purposeful.
There is always a way to find purpose in your work: Know what motivates you, tap into your values and crucially, take action. You’ll like yourself more for doing so!