After explaining in my last blog why living ‘on purpose’ is so important, I promised 5 steps to help you define and clarify it. Here you go – let me know what works for you, including anything else you’ve tried.
1. What’s Important to You? – these are your internal drivers, they influence your entire belief system and they are what you hold to be most important in life. Conflict arises when we don’t live in alignment with our values, so it’s important to know what they are and then assess the extent to which you’re embodying them. There are plenty of resources online, try Living More’s comprehensive list and whittle it down to your top 5. Once you know what they are, take some time to relate them to your day to day work. How are your belief systems supported by the work you do, and the organisation you work for? If there’s a disconnect, consider how important it is to you that your own values are un-compromised, and take steps to bridge the gap where possible.
2. Throw Modesty to the Wind – What are you Good At? We’re not exactly encouraged to shout our strong points from the rooftops, but it’s important to know. Research has shown that it’s for more rewarding and a contributor to high performance to further develop our skills, than to focus on improving on weaknesses. And when we work in a role or an environment that allows our skills to develop and flourish, then we have a sense that we are ‘adding value’, contributing to the greater whole. Once you’ve established what your key strengths are, find ways on a weekly basis to demonstrate those, to focus on them and use them as you go about your work. You’ll find this intrinsically rewarding, and your work will start to feel more purpose-led.
3. Find your Flow. This is when you experience work as effortless, either because you’re so engaged with it that time passes without you noticing, or because it’s so much fun you don’t even feel it’s work. When do you do your best work – what are the circumstances? Think about what you really care about in life and in your work, and find ways to incorporate more of that into each and every day. Find at least one opportunity a day to be ‘in flow’ – you’ll feel happier and more fulfilled.
4. Write a Mission Statement. It’s a great way to summarise what’s important to you, what your goals are, and what you want your legacy to be. Best one I’ve found is the Franklin Covey online version to personalise your own.
5. Create a Vision Board. This is a fun exercise where you get to ‘play’ with pictures, card, glue and coloured pens – make a collage that expresses all the different elements of your mission statement. Hang your vision board on the wall, take a photo of it and put it on your desktop – making it visible will be a constant reminder of where you’re headed.
Living ‘on purpose’ means you’re living an authentic life, a life that you are choosing, and which allows you to fully express yourself in all your glory. As a teacher of mine, the Rev. D. Johnson wrote:
‘Your dreams are calling you uniquely. There is some contribution you can make, some way you can do or be a particular something, that is special and unique to you. Your unique, authentic expression is what is demanded here, not someone else’s interpretation of who you ought to be’.