Yesterday I had a great conversation with a client about finding your purpose in work. This talented lady runs a successful consulting business in her field of expertise, but recently took some time out to think about making some changes to better align with her ‘why’ for getting up and going to work each day! She has been undergoing a process of deep thinking to uncover what that means for her.
Since my work on personal brands by necessity addresses the issue of core purpose, I thought I’d share some tools I have personally found helpful and that are helpful for my clients to explore prior to going through a personal branding process. These are not my own, but exercises I’ve picked up and tried and tested along the way.
Exercises to help you find your core purpose in work
- Write 101 goals. They can be as simple as reading that book you’ve been meaning to, or as complex as improving an important relationship in your life. They can be easy to achieve or wildly huge! Write anything and everything you would like to achieve, personally and professionally. The only rule is, keep writing until you have 101 goals. You will likely have to push yourself to get to 101 and uncover some things you didn’t know were there!
- Write 3 lists: Everything you enjoy doing, everything you’re good at and everything that gives you a sense of purpose. Then look for common themes.
- Recall flow states (when your mind is so engaged that time passes quickly and you don’t notice anything else) – what were you doing?
I find that with these types of activities, it’s important to find a good chunk of time to be alone and uninterrupted, preferably in a space away from your usual routines, that inspires you (the beach for me!). It’s important to write and write without thinking or editing – you can then go back and dissect it!
Get specific to get clear
It’s also really important to get specific about the activities that give you the most sense of purpose. So, it’s not just ‘helping people’… In what ways? To what end? Not just ‘I love research’, but what about researching lights you up inside?
What do your favourite work activities achieve and for whom? Why does that matter? These are the sorts of questions I challenge clients on!
For example, I realised that what I loved the most about my days as a photographer was not the photography itself but capturing what was amazing about someone. When I was working in education, it was about building confidence in my students by focusing on what they could do really well and building on that. I realised that bringing out the best in people was a theme in all my work.
Your work may change, but your purpose doesn’t
This lead me to evolve my business from one that was based in visual image work to a consultancy specialising in personal brand strategy. Whether I am teaching a team, coaching one-on-one, writing, presenting or planning strategy for a client, I am always striving to help people uncover and highlight what is remarkable about them in the professional context. This is absolutely what gets me up in the morning.
The sad thing is, most people never give considered thought to what gets them up in the morning. People like the client above are rare.
I leave you with a quote, versions of which have been attributed to Einstein and Jung, but in Henry Ford’s words in 1928:
But there is a question in my mind whether, with all this speeding up of our everyday activities, there is any more real thinking. Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.