I believe that knowing your purpose is the first step to working better, every day.
Our purpose is not something we can sit down and think about for a few minutes, then write with perfection. It is rather the start of a process to unlock our hearts. It is something that takes time, reflection and thought.
For most of us, rarely do we have the chance to do this. After all, we have a schedule to keep, kids to get to school if you’re a mother, projects to finish, people to manage, planes to catch and emails, text messages and calls to answer. However, discovering our purpose is a time well spent, time that sets the foundation for everything else we are hoping to receive or achieve. So, I implore you to make time to do this.
Knowing our purpose will guide us throughout our career and life. It becomes, in many ways, our compass, guiding us to the activities, people and places that will bring the deepest satisfaction and delight.
But before you can articulate your purpose, you must first determine exactly what it is. This isn’t a quick process or a one-time effort. Believe me, I know what it’s like because I’ve been there. Our purpose will evolve and change over time based on the seasons we are in and our level of self-awareness, which means that the purpose you have in mind now may not be the definite purpose you have in life.
I’ve prepared a worksheet to coach you through a stimulating process of articulating your own purpose. It is a tool I’ve personally used for years in different stages of my career. The process is not rocket science and will only help you begin discovering and articulating answers to the whys of your life. But if you do this exercise, it will get your creative juices flowing in the right direction.
Download the worksheet for this episode.
It is important that you give yourself time to think through and answer the questions. Obviously, you can’t answer these questions while working. I recommend doing it in the morning when your mind is fresh to think. Or any part of the day where you feel more relaxed and fresher.
After you answer, notice the common threads. Do you see any words repeated in more than one answer? Do you find yourself going back to a consistent or central theme? If so, this is a good start toward defining your unique purpose. Keep these ideas in mind because you’re going to need it when you write your purpose statement.
Purpose statements usually include 2 elements: (1) a word or phrase that indicates a change in status, such as to increase, to decrease, to eliminate, to prevent, well you get the idea; and (2) an identification of the problem or condition to be changed.
On page 2 of the worksheet, you will find a list of several words. Circle the four words that most appeal to you. Only four. The words you choose will help you understand what actions most motivate and excite you.
Once selected, ask yourself why you picked them? Are they similar to one another or different? You can even narrow them down to even be more specific.
Use the words you have chosen and start writing your purpose statement. Write it in a variety of ways. Then try to state your mission as well. Keep in mind that you are only putting into language much of what you already know and this is only a beginning point.
There’s a template in the worksheet that you can follow. As you write your purpose, let it ‘cook’ for a while over the coming weeks and months and even years. Ask your closest family member or friends if they think you are making the write observations about yourself. Feel free to write or re-write.
Remember that the purpose statement will change over time and be modified through the various seasons of your life, but the central elements such as the 4 words you selected should remain fairly constant throughout your life and career.
Don’t forget the difference between purpose and mission. Focus on why you do what you do – purpose – versus what you want to do – mission. You have one central purpose, but you have many missions that accomplish that purpose.
From my example last episode, my purpose is to honor God with the strength of my heart and the length of my days. This is constant that weaves through my many missions. My missions are what I will do to achieve that purpose, and they can be numerous – as a teacher & trainer, as a manager & leader, and as a speaker & writer.
Once you get in tune with the whys of your career, then you can begin to answer the whats and hows. Your purpose statement lays the foundation for your dreams and goals by helping you address the most important issue in life – knowing and understanding why you are here.