Having a sense of purpose

Purpose is a sense of knowing that your life has meaning, value and importance. Having purpose means the work you have committed to is serving humanity in a positive way.

It is more important than goals as it takes those goals to a higher level. Goals are all about the WHAT and purpose is all about the WHY!

A sense of purpose is integral to the human experience, says Anthony L. Burrow, Human Development at Cornell Research. “Purpose is a forward-looking directionality, an intention to do something in the world,” he says. “It’s different than a goal, which can be accomplished. Wanting to be a father is a goal because it is achievable. But to be a great father is more of an intention than an achievement. On some days, one might come closer to the ideal than others, but it is never a completed task.”

Having a sense of purpose brings lifelong benefits, Burrow explains. He points to research by others that has shown that purposeful people actually tend to live longer and are less sick. “The findings are mind-blowing.”

The benefits of purpose

There are many reserach studies onto the benefits to living a more purposeful life. In summary the most amazing benefits are…

+ Increased fulfilment and resilience

+ Guidance and support during tough times

+ Motivation to add value and achieve success

+ Feeling more alive and living longer

+ Improved heart health

+ Better ability to handle stress

What is your purpose?

When asked this question many people struggle for a ready answer or they will come back with their profession. I asked someone recently and the answer was – To be a great lawyer. This is a wonderful goal. It is a WHAT statement, rather than a WHY statement.

The access the benefits of having a purpose in life, that purpose needs to expressed in terms of the WHY that drives your life. The higher inspiration that supports you to achieve your goals.

If you’re stuck, here are some great examples…

“To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.”

Oprah Winfrey

“To make people happy.”

Walt Disney

And I’ll share mine…

“The share knowledge and create change.”

Therese Linton

Simple steps to create your purpose

This activity is designed for you to consider your firms purpose and to increase the meaning in your working life.

  1. Find a quiet space on your own and get comfortable and consider the following questions
  2. What is the purpose of my life?
  3. How can I make a positive contribution?
  4. How can I be happy?
  5. Grab a blank piece of paper and write down all the answers to those questions without over thinking or editing
  6. Refine the words and concepts to craft your personal purpose statement

Keep it short, positive, and inspiring. Ensure that it is the WHY and not the WHAT of your life.

Some people get inspired and complete the exercise in a 10 to 15 minutes, others prefer to take a more relfective approach and refine their draft over a few days. Either approach is great and remember you can always review your purpose statement regularly and refine it as required.