If you have ever faced a significant crisis in your life you’ll have experienced the power of purpose. The limitless boundaries, determination and passion you likely didn’t know you had. Your need for a result was clear. Your goal was compelling. Your focus was laser-like. The power of purpose is similar to the energy of light focused through a magnifying glass. Diffused light has little use, but when its energy is concentrated—as through a magnifying glass—that same light can set fire to paper. Focus its energy even more, as with a laser beam, and it has the power to cut through steel. Likewise, a clear sense of purpose enables you to focus your efforts on what matters most, compelling you to take action and push forward regardless of the odds or obstacles.
Unlike animals, which are driven simply to survive, we humans crave more from life than mere survival. Without an answer to the question “Survival for the sake of what?” we can quickly fall into disillusionment, distraction and a quiet sense of despair.
What is your WHY?
- Why do you wake up in the morning?
- Why do you deal with the hurdles you deal with every day?
- What do you want to accomplish at the end of the day?
- What do you stand for?
Nietzsche once said, “He who has a why, can endure any how.” Knowing your why is an important first step in figuring out how to achieve the goals that excite you and create a life you enjoy living, versus merely surviving.
Only when you know your “why” will you find the courage to take the risks needed to get ahead, stay motivated. When the chips are down, and move your life onto an entirely new, more challenging, and more rewarding trajectory.
While there is no roadmap for discovering your life’s purpose, there are many ways you can gain deeper insight into yourself, and a larger perspective on what it is that you have to offer the world around you. Reflect on the corresponding questions below to help find the “sweet spot” that sits in the intersection between what you care about, and what will be valued most. And most importantly, what are you willing to sacrifice in order to get IT?
What makes you come alive?
The word inspire comes from the Latin, meaning “to breathe life into.” Accordingly, when you are working toward things that inspire you, it literally makes you feel more alive. What makes you come alive isn’t referring to taking your vacation or watching your favorite team play football. It’s bigger than that. I’m talking about a why that moves up from being about you to being about something bigger than you. It’s about connecting with what you’re passionate about, knowing that when you focus your attention on endeavors that truly drives you, you grow your impact and influence in ways that nothing else can.
What are your innate strengths?
When people are in their element they are not only more productive, but they add more value and enjoy more personal and professional fulfilment. Accordingly, it’s also often where they also tend to make more money!
What are the things you’ve always been good at? Are you able to see patterns and opportunities amidst complexity? Are you creative, naturally adept at coming up with “outside the box” solutions? Are you a natural born “Fixer” with an innate ability to identify where the status quo is in need of a makeover? Are you detailed oriented, naturally good at executing projects with a precision that some find tedious? Or are you a naturally gifted communicator, networker, leader, or problem solver?
Of course, you can also be passionate about things you have no natural talent for, and talented at things for which you hold little passion. However, experience has shown that we rarely aspire toward ambitions we have no natural talent to achieve.
Where do you add the greatest value?
Doing work that you’re good at, but which you loathe, is not a recipe for success. That said, knowing your greatest strengths and where you can add the most value through the application of, skills, knowledge and experience can help you focus on the opportunities and environment where you are most likely to succeed and therefore find the greatest sense of accomplishment and results.
How will you measure your life?
People who don’t stand for something, can easily fall for anything. Deciding how you want to measure your life means making a stand for something and then living your life in alignment with it.
Ultimately, living with purpose means focusing on things that matter most. Ironically, the things that matter most are rarely “things.”
Following the money and following your heart don’t have to be mutually exclusive. By shifting the lens in which you view what you are doing now, you can profoundly shift your experience of it. No matter what you are selling, you can draw meaning from it and find greater purpose through how you do what you do. If you don’t think you’re the kind of person you’d want to work with, then consider that it may not be because of the job you do each day, but your attitude towards it.