If you’ve ever felt lost in your work or your life, it can help to reconnect to your purpose. During times of major change and transition you can do this by slowing down, reflecting and re-prioritizing. Answering simple questions like “why am I doing this?” and “what do I really want for my life?” are a powerful start.
“If we’re able to revisit and renew our sense of purpose as we navigate milestones and transitions, then we can look forward to more satisfying, meaningful lives” (Greater Good Science Centre)
Being engaged at work is good for your wellbeing
Finding your purpose and staying connected to it, is a journey that begins in your teens and continues throughout your life. If you think back to why you chose your career you can find clues about your values and what is important to you. Being engaged at work and having meaningful long-term goals is good for your well being. Your purpose often goes beyond the self, aiming to make a difference to the broader world.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy.
It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Finding My Purpose
At school I chose Optometry as my career because I wanted to help people protect their most valuable sense – sight – and make a difference in their life. My interest, skills and knowledge in science were aligned with the requirements of the study. Through my part-time job whilst at school, I knew I enjoyed working with people and had first-hand experience of customer service and working in a team.
Later in my life, I chose a career in Coaching to help support others to achieve their goals and live their best life. I wanted to share my knowledge and experience to help others find their passion and meaning.
Purpose can change at different stages of your work and life:
- Starting Out – you’re keen to put your skills and knowledge into action. Your enthusiasm is usually high and you want to build as many new experiences as you can and earn money
- Mid-Career – you often question “what now?” or “what’s next?” as you master your skills and think about how to stay engaged in your career in the longer term
- Late Career – you have often reached your goals in your career and your family commitments have lessened. You often wonder “how can I make the most of the next years?” to make your life meaningful.
Discovering Your Purpose.
How can you get started on finding your purpose?
“Often finding our purpose involves a combination of finding meaning in experiences we’ve had, while assessing our values, skills and hopes for a better world. It means taking time for personal reflection while imagining our ideal future” (Greater Good Science Centre)
Here are some questions that can reveal insights into what is personally meaningful to you:
- Think back on a time when you felt fully engaged in your work. What were you doing? For some it is when you’re learning new things, or developing skills, or contributing to a team, or helping someone solve a problem they have.
- What are your strengths? What skills do you have now that are most important to your work? What skills would you like to develop? How could you work on these? Try to identify ways you can take small steps to build on your skills
- Imagine yourself in ten years time. If everything went as well as possible, where do you see yourself? What does your life look like and what is important to you? What are the signs that you have lived well?
This can be a difficult exercise for many people. Research shows it is easier to look back on the past to remember experiences than it is to look forward and visualize your future.
Having a strong vision for your future increases optimism and helps you to take action now that will work towards that picture.