What’s your purpose?
Finding purpose in both work and life takes more than just reading a few books or listening to some motivational TED Talks. If what you do doesn’t leave you feeling inspired and confident that you’re making an impact, you can find it seriously impacts your productivity, motivation and sense of wellbeing.
As a life coach, one of the most rewarding things I do is to help entrepreneurs like you uncover their true purpose in work and life.
This is what I want to talk about today, so you come away from this article feeling inspired to do what truly lights you up.
What matters is purpose.
Why does purpose matter in work and life?
Purpose is essentially the “why” behind what you do. The outcome of your purpose is the feeling that what you do is meaningful. If you’ve ever caught yourself feeling like a nine-to-five robot and dreading facing your desk the next day, chances are that what you’re doing doesn’t align with your unique purpose.
And our bodies are pretty good at telling us when things aren’t aligned.
If you’ve ever felt stressed or unmotivated by what you do, this can manifest in the form of burnout and the feeling that you’re stuck on a treadmill, exhausted. Mentally you might find yourself simply going through the motions, getting through one day to the next.
In essence, life without purpose is an energy-suck.
Jacinta Jimenez, a psychologist and the head of coaching at leadership development platform BetterUp, puts it beautifully when she says: “As human beings, we’re wired to connect, and part of purpose is serving others or serving the greater good, something outside of us that allows us to feel more connected.”
Does what you do in life and work currently feel like it’s helping you to connect meaningfully to others? Is there a deep sense of passion driving you to do what you do?
If not, it might be time to step back and reevaluate.
Why we lose our sense of purpose
Many of us find ourselves following paths others think we should follow. From a young age, we are conditioned to think that the path to success is linear and can only be achieved by pursuing certain options.
This is particularly true when we think about our education.
Think about the pressure we’re put under in a grade-driven academic environment. It’s easy to believe that only those who excel in school are ever able to be successful – that we must do well in our exams, go to university and follow a career that is seen as respectable.
We’re pushed in a direction others think is best for us, and if that doesn’t align with what truly matters to us deep down, we end up feeling dissatisfied and somehow cheated by life.
In an enlightening conversation with a good friend Thomas McCormack in my University of Life podcast, we talked about this in depth. He made a really great point that “there’s this immense pressure to go to college to be successful and make lots of money. In school, you’re always asked what you want to be. We all have something incredible within us, and we know it’s there but we doubt ourselves because people laugh.”
How many artists have been told that what they do isn’t a real job? How many great writers have abandoned their true potential to follow more conventional careers because of pressure from others? And how many entrepreneurs have been laughed out of the room and told that their ideas will never bring them success?
Coming at this from an entrepreneurial perspective, I always feel as though the best entrepreneurs are often laughed at in that difficult first year or two. Nobody understands what on earth they’re doing because they’ve dared to do things differently.
But that difference ultimately leads to their dramatic success down the line.
There are so many great people like this if you search for them – brilliant entrepreneurs who achieved amazing success but were ridiculed at the beginning. Take Henry Ford, for example. When Ford tried to present his project of a motor to a group of industrialists, nobody took him seriously. For them, what Ford presented was ridiculous. However, after encouragement by Thomas Edison, Ford is now a household name with many people reaping the benefits of his idea: affordable vehicles for the average citizen.
Or take Walt Disney. Everyone recognises Mickey Mouse, right? Yet many of his ideas, including Mickey Mouse, were completely rejected in the beginning. Disney was told a giant mouse was “too frightening” and he suffered several financial blows. However, his total resilience paid off, and the Walt Disney Company turned out to be the massive billion-dollar success we know and love today.
The key thing that these entrepreneurs had?
Courage and unshakeable determination.
And in the case of Henry Ford, he also had someone there who helped him believe in and follow his true purpose.
How life coaching can help you find your purpose
In our chat, Thomas also talked about the importance of finding supporters to help you pursue your ambitions and stay true to your purpose.
“A friend told me that I’m good at what I do, but that I could be great at something else,” he said. “That there’s something missing. And so I went through a period of doubt. I know I’m good at what I do but I’m not incredibly good at putting myself out there. I heard him say, ‘Thomas, I have absolutely no doubt you’re going to succeed in this.’ I remember the look on his face and he meant every single ounce of what he said. Sometimes you just need someone to say ‘I believe in you.’”
And without the support of his friend, Thomas might never be the incredible life coach he is today.
I’m a big believer that you’re the average of the five people who you surround yourself with. Have a think about who those five people might be for you. Are they really supporting you in your ambitions right now? Or are they steering you away towards a safer, but ultimately less fulfilling path?
Perhaps right now you’re lacking that support. Perhaps your ideas aren’t encouraged by those around you as they try and protect you from failure. Those closest to you might assume that doing things differently will only end in disappointment, and while this feels discouraging, often they are doing it out of love.
Unfortunately, listening to them keeps us firmly in our comfort zone and that’s never where the magic happens.
This is why I find so much reward in being that person who can push someone forward and follow their ambitions. I love helping people break through blocks and realise their true potential – nothing brings me more joy than seeing people come to life and do what they were born to do. Because trust me, that support really matters.
Over the years, I’ve learned that entrepreneurship should never be a lonely road for one. We all need a supporting hand to guide us along this unpredictable path from time to time. The right life coach will play the part of your “guide on the side”, rather than simply tell you what to do. They’ll give you the confidence and capabilities you already have to become the best version of yourself, with the potential and abilities you already know are within you.
Whatever is blocking you today, whether it’s a lack of support or fear of the unknown, know that there’s somebody out there who can provide you with the expertise and support to help you overcome those challenges.
If you feel like you’re lacking purpose in work and life, think deeply about what lights you up. In your ideal life, what would you be doing?
Purpose is personal, unique and emotional. It’s what we’re called to do, but without the right support in place, it’s all too easy to abandon it and settle for less at the detriment of our own happiness.
If you’re looking for a supporter to help you uncover your purpose and equip you with the tools you need to take action, I’d be delighted to chat about it. Get in touch and let’s see if I can help.
Who knows? In a few years, perhaps your success story will inspire others to live their purpose too.