The concept of purpose is a frequent topic of discussion. We often hear about the importance of discovering our purpose, living purposefully, and infusing purpose into our work and daily lives.
Research shows that when people work with a sense of purpose and meaning, they’re happier, more satisfied, and more committed to their work. They also create more value for the businesses they’re a part of, which benefits customers, investors, and shareholders. In fact, a study in 2018 found that nine out of ten people are willing to earn less money if it means doing more meaningful work.
With all the emphasis on finding meaning and purpose, it’s no wonder that one of the most common questions I’m asked is: How do I find my purpose? The research is clear that for most people, purpose is something we build, not something we stumble upon. It takes conscious effort and practice to live and work with purpose every day.
If you’re ready to build your purpose, here are 5 key questions that can help unlock it for you.
1. What Are Your Passions?
What are you passionate about? If you read that question, and you don’t have an answer, it can sometimes feel disheartening. If that’s the case, there are several different ways you could get to the heart of this question, so perhaps one of the following might feel easier to answer or spark some ideas for you:
- What are you most interested in at this point in your life?
- What do you love doing? I invite you to write a love list, a stream of consciousness. What are all the things that you love doing professionally and personally?
- What gets you really fired up?
- What are you excited about right now?
- If money wasn’t a factor, what would you do with your days?
Take some time to reflect on these questions and get clear on where your passion lies.
2. Discover Your Core Values
One of the essential aspects to gain clarity in your life, including your career, is understanding what truly matters to you. At the end of the day, what holds the utmost importance? Take a moment to jot down everything that is significant to you or things you wish to have more of in your life. Start with a brainstorming session and include various areas such as family, friends, work, creativity, spirituality, community, well-being, relaxation, finances, hobbies, home life, vacations, charity, activism, romantic relationships, and social life. Once you have your list, identify the three or four items that resonate the most with you—those that genuinely matter. Knowing your core values is crucial when striving to infuse purpose into your daily life and understanding how your work and actions can contribute to them in some way.
3. Identify Your Strengths
To discover your strengths, ask yourself the following questions:
- What activities do you love doing that immerse you in a state of flow?
- What tasks make you lose track of time because you enjoy them so much?
- What are the things you excel at effortlessly and could engage in all day long?
Leveraging your strengths is an excellent way to experience deep engagement in your pursuits. When you feel highly engaged and enjoy what you’re doing, it often brings a sense of purpose as well. Many individuals are unaware of their strengths. If you find yourself unsure, there’s a valuable free character strengths test offered by the VIA Institute at viacharacter.org. This test is utilised in our Women Rising program and serves as a helpful tool for identifying your strengths and understanding who you are at your best.
4. Discover Your Problem To Solve
In our modern world, there is a multitude of problems awaiting solutions. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed and stuck when contemplating all of them. However, the good news is that you don’t have to solve them all. You simply need to choose one that deeply resonates with you and take small steps towards finding a solution. By paying attention, you can hear the distinct problem that calls out to you:
- What issue deeply saddens you?
- What keeps you awake at night?
- When do you find yourself becoming frustrated or angry?
- What kind of world do you envision for the next generation?
Finding a problem that truly ignites your passion and drives you to seek a solution is a direct path to building your sense of purpose.
5. What Legacy Do You Want To Leave?
Have you ever thought about the legacy that you want to leave? It might feel like a daunting question, but it’s also inspiring and purposeful to think about the lasting impact you want to have on this world. Whether you have huge goals towards shifting the needle on a social issue, or a smaller focus on making the world better for your children or your family, what is it that you want to be remembered for? If you’re lacking a sense of meaning and purpose, zooming the lens out and shifting your perspective towards what you want to be known for and how you want to be remembered can be incredibly motivating.
If you want more tools and strategies to build meaning and purpose in your career, this is a topic we cover in a lot more depth in module one of the Women Rising program.