Purpose is foundational, it doesn’t matter if you are a business, nonprofit, or individual. I recognize that my life has been driven by purpose at varying levels. I’ve lost it, had it shaken, and found a new purpose a few times. I’ve talked about it, wrote a book about it, and now you’re reading about it. On a larger scale, our individual inability to deal with many of today’s societal issues can be rooted in the lack of such purpose. So, what can we do about it?
With the resounding discussions around mental health, one can’t help but find at least a couple of correlations with purpose. In fact, the lack of purpose is at the core of many of our feelings of despair and lack of excitement about the future. So, what does it mean, and why should we be concerned about it in our society?
A business or organization's purpose might be captured in a mission statement, which is also appropriate for individuals. It is one of the most basic building blocks of our identity. It wraps aspirations, dreams, and goals together in a neat package with social awareness and adds a component of living a life that matters.
Purpose is living your life by design in a way we hope inspires our joy. Purpose, defined here, isn’t so much about the meaning of life but the meaning you give to life and the reason for your life. Your purpose is your catalyst for pursuing transformation, hard work, and passion. It is your reason for living.
Here is an easy way to think of purpose. What is the one thing that gets you up in the morning? What drives you to keep going even when things aren’t going well? What makes you lose track of time to the point where you become keenly aware again with a jolt, surprised at where you are? Where do you find the most joy and are drawn to spend your relaxation time?
Our purpose is one of the greatest motivators you will ever come across in your lifetime. It is also the root of humanity's most significant accomplishments. What has ever been invented which did not have a purpose as the push to make things happen?
But as much as we need purpose, finding it can be challenging. I addressed that process in my first book, Purpose in the Darkness, which told a life story and how I was forced to find a new purpose in the face of multiple losses. I understand from experience that grief and mourning can provide barriers and filters that increase the challenge but there are other barriers as well, financial, our belief systems and more. These are the times we must fight hard to find a new purpose.
Some will find purpose to be rooted in the spiritual and benefiting from a lengthier, introspective path. When Rick Warren wrote The Purpose Driven Life in 2002, it became a best-seller, selling tens of millions of copies worldwide. It was on the New York Times Bestseller list for over 90 weeks. His book offered a 40-day personal spiritual journey but that shouldn’t discourage those considering a process.
There are other means of establishing purpose and when coaching individuals or organizations, I draw from various tools to help them ensure they are in the right place. It’s about determining values, drawing on passions, and filling voids that currently exist with a more fulfilling future. It takes work and it takes time, even if just a few hours. Here are some basic questions that may stimulate thoughts around your genuine purpose, address barriers, and determine your willingness to eliminate them. Take a deep breath, relax, trust your instinctual answers, and capture them in writing.
Am I taking care of myself?
Am I listening to myself?
Do I need to switch up my attitude?
Are financial concerns limiting my purpose?
Do I have a community supporting this purpose?
Am I willing to pursue my purpose and not look back?
Have I prioritized my purpose?
Will I trust the outcome?
Am I willing to broaden my mental perspective?
Am I ready to take the next steps?
Now, you’ve faced reality. Finding your purpose when it’s buried in all of our “busyness” requires we delve deeply while remaining open-minded. Unfortunately, we’ve become a society stimulated by instant gratification and consumed with multi-tasking to do it all. In the age of “just in time” inventories, “on-demand” streaming, and real-time results, we’ve come to expect dopamine boosts to keep us engaged. Yet, we can overlook something as simple as purpose.
Take the time, and give yourself the gift, Ultimately, pursuing your purpose will give you hope, promise, and meaning, as well as improve your mental health.