If you have ever asked yourself ‘why am I here?’ then you understand the value of purpose. When we have a purpose, it drives us forward towards our ultimate win, and it keeps us focused when times are tough. Without purpose, we can feel lost and unsure of our place in the world.
When we first met Peter, he was downbeat and demotivated. He had been working long hours, often over the weekend, and was spending less and less time with his wife and young child. He felt guilty when he wasn’t able to get home in time for his child’s bedtime and he found himself thinking about work when he was at home.
Peter came to Track Record because he knew he had to make a change – but he didn’t yet know what that change should be. We asked him why he joined the company he worked for, and he - quite matter of factly - said it paid well. But his eyes lit up when he talked about his team.
The power of purpose
As we spoke, it became clear just how passionate Peter was about developing people and watching them thrive. This led to a huge realisation for him – his sense of purpose came from his work, and specifically from the inter-personal relationships that he had built up with his team members. That was why he couldn’t let go of the work day when he went home in the evening.
Once he had discovered his purpose, Peter’s attitude completely changed. He spoke with his wife and explained the sense of purpose he got from his work. Together, they agreed that he would spend an extra hour at work every day, and in return Peter would switch off in the evenings so that he could be fully present with his family, working on the inter-personal relationships within his own home, without having the feeling of guilt he had before.
In Peter’s case, one brief conversation led to a hugely positive change in his life. But this is the power of purpose. It is the first step on the road to a more fulfilled, focused and successful life.
How do you discover your unique purpose?
Peter’s story may sound familiar. Too many of us sleepwalk through life’s biggest decisions – we go to school, then perhaps an apprenticeship or university, we find a job, move into our own home, some of us start a family, then retire. It is only then that we start to think about ourselves and the things that make us truly happy.
So how can you identify your unique purpose? It all comes down to three key components: passion, impact and community.
Without passion, there is little point in setting a purpose. It is the thing that gets us up in the morning and the thing that keeps us going even when things are tough. It exists deep within every one of us, and it is up to us to identify it and nurture it.
We all have an impact on the world around us in one way or another, but we don’t always realise that we can choose the kind of impact that we make. Ask yourself where you want to end up and what sort of legacy you want to leave. When we decide our impact from the outset, we can avoid falling into the common trap of justification, where our purpose is used as a weak justification for the life that we find ourselves in.
Purpose is fulfilled through interactions with others. Most of us want to do something that’s bigger than just us – we want to have an impact on others and leave a positive legacy. When we have a strong understanding of the legacy we wish to create and the community that we are a part of and serve, that can generate a much bigger impact than simply working towards an individual goal could. Furthermore, when a purpose is defined really well it then becomes compelling and attracts other people to it.
What is your passion? What impact do you want to make? And where is the community that you want to inspire? Once you can answer these questions, you will be well on your way to understanding your purpose.
What does purpose feel like?
So how do you know when you have found your sense of purpose? At Track Record, the first thing we ask our clients to do is to write down their story to date, using the timeline below. Chart all of your biggest accomplishments and all of your most profound failures, with the positive experiences going above the line, and the negative experiences below the line.
Look at your timeline – when were you happiest, and when were you at your lowest? Now lets interrogate these results. What made that moment so important? Maybe it was the sense of pride and achievement at having worked so hard to reach that result, like a promotion at work. Maybe a moment was sad but significant because you ended up losing contact with someone who you had been close with.
When Peter performed this exercise, he was surprised to see so many work-based milestones on the higher end of his chart. This is what made him realise that his recent unhappiness was not due to the fact that he hated his job – it was down to his lack of finding ways to fulfil his purpose. Once he realised that his purpose was realised through building strong relationships, it suddenly became obvious that his positive milestones (getting married, sharing formative experiences with his children, being entrusted with a larger team at work) reflected this purpose, while his negative experiences (getting homesick at university, working in a call centre, spending several weeks in hospital while ill) related to times when he was starved of this purpose.
How can purpose lead to success?
There is a sense of purpose within us all, but in order to find it, we need to understand what drives us, what the accumulation of all our life’s wins will achieve, and how we can use our sense of purpose to inspire ourselves and others, leaving a lasting legacy. Although we may not consciously know it, a belief in purpose is the ‘why’ that lies at the core of each and every one of us, generating our motivation and accelerating our desire to achieve. It is the first step towards success and the foundation for a life of confidence and accomplishment.
Your purpose is your North Star – it will always guide you along the best possible path and ensure that you are being true to yourself. By simply identifying your own unique purpose, you are becoming more aware of who you truly are deep down. This will give you the confidence that you need to chase success, and start working towards your end win.
A sense of purpose can be lifechanging. Months after that first meeting, Peter is happier and more focused than ever before, both at home and at work. By taking some time to understand your purpose, you too can begin your own journey towards success.
To learn more about why purpose is so important, and how it can build confidence and lead you to your win, pick up our book from whatdoesittaketowin.com.