You sit at your desk, pausing for a moment from the hamster wheel and suddenly you’re washed over by this “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life” feeling.
Sometimes people think this is a struggle “the millennials” face. They say “Everyone goes through it” and “everyone figures it out eventually”.
But I also met people in very senior leadership positions who asked themselves the same question.
“What am I doing?”
What does purpose mean you?
When you ask your family and friends, you’re likely to get a lot of definitions: “core values”; “the things that actually mean something”; “priorities”; “alignment” and “something else than profit”. They may be quick to add that “those who know their personal and professional mission are happier”.
You may think there’s a lot you’re good at, and a lot you care about. And if you find yourself in a job where you’re able to put your unique talents to work for something you care about – that’s the sweet spot.
- What topics do I have really strong opinions about?
- What could I talk about for 15 minutes without taking a breath?
- What are the things I read or listen to and say YES!! THAT!!
Answering these questions gives you a list of things that provide you with a sense of purpose. Then figure out how you can do more of that.
Did it take a crisis?
But how often do we sit down and ask ourselves these questions? Not so much when there’s smooth sailing. Sometimes it takes a crisis to hit us over the head and we find ourselves questioning everything we thought we wanted and held dear. Things that were high-priority before now seem shallow, selfish and status-driven.
Have you been pushing for a promotion because you wanted to feel like were progressing? Even though deep down you knew you’re not ready for a promotion? Is it even the right thing for the team and organisation that you work for?
You wouldn’t be the first to realise that responsibility without purpose and meaning is draining. And a fancier job title in and of itself isn’t much of a reward either.
And you’re not alone if you want to feel…
… like what you’re doing is meaningful.
… you’re loved and appreciated for who we are.
Sometimes it takes a crisis to shake us, wake us up. Then we realise the chasing external validation and markers of success isn’t the way to do find a sense of purpose in your work. It’s so easy to get lost in the noise, caught in the buzz of a fast-tracked career, captivated by the hustle culture around you. But as seductive as it is, it’s also hollow.
How can you find your purpose?
It’s a long journey of discovery and it usually starts with taking a long walk, grabbing pen and paper or sitting still for while. There’s a lot to ponder and you may find some more inspiration and mindflips how you can think about your life’s purpose here.
And if you’re looking to find a new job or company, here are a few questions to help you find out what you want.
But as long as still have to go to work every day: Here’s a list of strategies to find more meaning in your work.