Having a clear life purpose and vision is vital for your happiness.
Many people, especially in the U.S., believe the only way to have what you want is to work hard and long. And that having what you want will bring you happiness.
I was under that misguided belief during my corporate career. Overworking, that led to chronic stress, was one of the main reasons that led to my health crisis and eventual change of careers (read more about that here).
Now as a coach and business owner, I still occasionally struggle with letting these limiting thoughts go. Thoughts like “Work is a priority above all other things”, “You’ll be seen as lazy and average if you don’t put in at least 8-10 hours a day”, or “You can’t be successful doing what you love, that’s what hobbies are for.”
So how do you work smarter, not harder? Or love what you do so much that it doesn’t feel like work?
What do you do when things have changed, due to a job loss or health issue, that make the old way of living no longer possible? Or when there is a disconnect between the work role or personal role you fill and what you really desire for yourself?
You start with getting crystal clear about your purpose.
I’m a firm believer that everyone can benefit from life purpose work if you’re open to it and want to discover who you are at a deep level.
Your Life Purpose
Doing fulfilling work is a pipe dream for many people. It doesn’t have to be.
Purpose is intention. It’s defined as something set up with an end to be attained. Doing things on purpose is doing them intentionally. Life gets so much easier when you live on-purpose, doing things intentionally.
Wayne Dyer said it best: “When you stay on purpose and refuse to be discouraged by fear, you align with the infinite self, in which all possibilities exist.”
Your life purpose is your calling. It’s the reason that gives meaning to your life. An example is the nurse whose life purpose is to work generously and live in service to care for the health and wellbeing of others.
Discovering your life purpose focuses the attention on “be-ing” who you are. When you focus on “be-ing”, you do what you want and you get what you need.
Your Vision and Mission
Don’t confuse your life purpose with your vision or mission.
Your vision is a specific, compelling image of the future that you hold for your life.
Once you have determined your purpose, a vision gives context to your purpose and aligns you to that future state. Our nurse’s vision is that all people in need are able to receive high quality medical care.
Your mission is the particular way you choose to fulfill your purpose at a specific point in your life. Continuing with our nurse example, her mission as she approaches retirement is to create a non-profit organization so that nurses and other medical personnel are able to visit poor rural communities and provide healthcare to those in need.
The Benefits of Life Purpose Work
Life purpose has been an interesting and popular topic for years. Perhaps you’ve read the best seller The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren or some other book about life purpose, mission statements or personal fulfillment.
Each of us has a unique life purpose. When you know your purpose, you have stability and security in that knowledge. It brings a sense of peace.
Once you determine your life purpose, you have a clear direction to take when deciding on what actions to take. Your life purpose guides you and keeps you on course.
It also provides a sense of confidence in knowing you’re doing what’s right and best for you. Having a clear life purpose minimizes confusion about your motives and what things mean to you.
Your life has more meaning when you’re “be-ing” on purpose.
Your Next Step: Take Intentional Action
There’s a desire for more self-reflection and life purpose work when you reach a certain age, life stage or if you’re in the midst of a life transition. Major events in your life could include job loss, divorce, 15-20 years in your career, empty nest/children have left, death of a loved one, or approaching retirement.
You may be experiencing one or more of these, and the desire for clarity and purpose is growing for you.
Keep in mind, it’s not easy to discover your purpose and vision when your life is busy. This is deep work; it’s a process of getting to know yourself fully.
You’ll have to carve out the time and effort this will require. Get in a quiet place where you’ll be able to do the deep self-reflection this requires.
1. Start with discovering your life purpose. Work with a coach or do some self-study to determine what it is.
This can be done by examining your past experiences, like listing out the roles you’ve found most fulfilling in your life. Or talking about some of the things you’ve always loved doing throughout your life.
2. Then, go a step further and examine those answers to find bigger themes, commonalities, repetitive words and key phrases.
3. Next, create your own unique life purpose statement using those key words and phrases.
4. Lastly, confirm your purpose. Does it resonate with how you see yourself and your vision? Do you feel happy and excited when you review it? Do you feel connected to it at a deep level and have a desire to fulfill it?
Your life purpose statement could take weeks or months of reviewing and refining. If working with a coach, it could take up to 3 or more sessions of working deeply together.
Once you have it, remember it’s for your own personal use. It’s a tool to inspire and guide you. To be on-purpose. To live on-purpose. You don’t need to share your life purpose statement with anyone else.
Enjoy the process of discovering your life purpose and once you have it, you can create your vision and mission next.
Photo by Matt Noble on Unsplash