I seem to coach and help a lot of leaders looking for their next job or step in their career. One thing I always stress is for the person to find their job, not just any job. (Ep 228-231) There is an intentional reason behind the distinction between the two; your job has purpose and will give you long-lasting satisfaction, while any available job will likely leave you empty and back and same place of searching for another role.
We all want our work to mean something. We want to know that we are contributing to something larger than gathering a paycheck. Here are some ways to lock in on your purpose as you carry a strong connection to what you do.
1. Find purpose in your purpose
A purpose that doesn’t run deep or ring true on a foundational level is…well not a true purpose.
It’s easy for an organization to say, “These are our Values and the purpose of our work.” Unless you find a way to connect with that on a personal level then that purpose doesn’t really mean anything. We all have inherent things that uniquely drive us and motivate us to be our best. Some people are drawn to be connectors, others are servants, others creative, builders and solutionists. Connect to whatever your inner drive is to latch on to your purpose in your work. It’s common to find people working on the same team and on the same tasks with totally different purposes for being there and finding value in their work.
2. Think of purpose holistically
I’ve coached several very talented people in the past that had bountiful potential. It struck me as odd at first how some would burn out, not meet their potential and leave their job. You could see it coming towards the end, so it wasn’t a surprise but it surely was disheartening. They were frustrated by not reaching their sense of purpose, which was often a world-changing event on impact in the organization.
Purpose is certainly having a large-scale impact on others, but that is not all of what purpose is. Those “tent-pole” moments of purpose don’t happen on a daily basis, and if we hold ourselves to the all-or-nothing mindset of purpose we can have long stretches of dissatisfaction in what we do.
Think of purpose holistically. We often talk on the show about how minor things matter. That’s certainly the case with purpose. Making someone’s day a bit easier, bringing a smile to someone’s face, or helping someone meet a need could all be parts of your purpose. Find purpose and joy in the smaller things that you do throughout your week. There are plenty of small opportunities to serve a bigger purpose and cause in what you do.
If you only chase after monumental purpose moments and events, you’ll find yourself unfulfilled.
3. Break the comparisons
Not everyone is going to be a CEO or someone that is written about in the history books. As obvious as that sounds, there are plenty of people that put their purpose and impact through a comparison lens of others. Perhaps you look back every once in a while to see how you are doing compared to your high school or college classmates. Maybe you compare yourself to your teammate or a family member. Letting go of the self-induced pressure of legacy frees you up to truly live out your purpose in your work and in your life.
I once coached and mentored a small-town business leader who was singularly focused on leaving a great legacy behind as he retired. You’ve likely never heard of him, but that doesn’t mean his legacy with those that do know him is any less valuable. He truly lived thrived in his purpose to serve others by not caring about comparisons between him and someone else.
4. Remind yourself of your purpose
We can lose our focus on purpose through changes in the how of the work, cultural changes, or technology changes. If you find yourself struggling to find the Why in work, take some time to refocus on what you do.
- Make a list of all the things that you enjoy about your job. Remember the small things!
- List out all of the accomplishments you’ve had over the last 6 months or a year. You’ll likely be surprised by how much you have accomplished.
- Take some time off to refresh and recharge.
- Be transparent with your supervisor or peers. Look for new opportunities or projects that you can be a part of to help introduce you to some new people and concepts.
Latch on to your purpose, let go of comparisons and keep your focus on your Why as you navigate change. You’ll be more productive, have a higher sense of satisfaction, and work in what you do and you’ll have a long-lasting impact on others.
Make a better tomorrow.