I know this only too well from my own experience. In my previous career, I wanted to prove myself and my worth through my work, which gave me a tremendous amount of motivation to achieve. It seemed easier to “escape” into work and focus on it, so I wouldn’t have to worry about other aspects of my life. And while the external achievements helped build some validation and esteem, it didn’t really help me feel better about myself.
One thing I was missing was a higher purpose: What was I doing everything for? Of course I could set goals for myself: Take on more responsibility, get a promotion, buy a nice house. But these goals didn’t mean very much without a bigger purpose – and not just for my work, but for my life.
Companies usually have a mission statement that guides the development of a vision and goals. And as part of my job in strategic planning, I applied these principles at work all the time. But I had no idea how to figure out my personal mission statement, until I left the corporate world and went to train as a coach.
How do you figure out your purpose? The best way to identify your purpose is with the help of others. But you can start the process yourself. Here is one way to begin: Take a sheet of paper and write “My purpose in life is to…” at the top. Then start writing as many different endings to the sentence as you can, without thinking too much. Just keep on going, filling the page. Put the paper away and revisit it later, marking the endings that resonate the most with you. This is a starting point – there will definitely be some clues to your purpose in life on that page.
The other important component of Living Purposefully is to set goals and take action. Once you know your purpose, it’s time to set specific goals that are in line with your purpose and identify action items to reach those goals.
I believe that our life purpose evolves over time, so it’s fine to start with something now and clarify or edit it later. My life purpose right now is to fall in love with myself and my life, and help others do the same. So my goals, whether it’s developing new workshops, spending time with my friends and loved ones, or writing a book, have a deeper meaning because they help me live my purpose.
How are you living your purpose today?
Living Purposefully is the 5th Pillar from Dr. Nathaniel Branden’s book “The 6 Pillars of Self-Esteem.”