We can take a variety of paths to start our career. It could start as a hobby or interest that grew into a business. Alternatively, it could be an opportunity we seized to make money. Yet still, it could also be a path that was chosen for us where we had little choice or input. Regardless of how we got to the career path we are currently on, there is one thing we need. It is what allows us to remain motivated and determined to press on. The source of our drive is a defining purpose that we may not have yet explicitly identified.
What is a defining purpose?
A purpose is defined by Merriam-Webster as,
something set up as an object or end to be attained. That definition sounds a lot like an average objective, goal or any intention that we have. A defining purpose is much more than that. It is the reason that we are willing to work so hard to achieve our goals. Our purpose is the reason that we think the sacrifices we make are worth it. It is what we are willing to hustle for and persevere for.
There will be many obstacles to success and many temptations to quit. Unlike a task we can check off our to-do list, a defining purpose is something we strive for and continue to strive for throughout our career. We need it to keep us focussed and grounded. Finding our defining purpose allows you to prioritize our time and efforts, but how do we identify this elusive purpose?
What’s important to us?
The simplest way to identify our defining purpose is to think of what matters most to us. Next think about why it matters most. Our defining purpose is likely strongly associated to what we think is most important. Our values and vision greatly influence it. If our family is most important to us because we love them, our defining purpose may be to provide for our family. Knowing what is important helps us in our decision-making and prioritization and also helps us get over the first hurdle.
What are our strengths?
Our personality and strengths also contribute a lot to our purpose. We should identify our strengths and what we like to do. It may surprise us to find out that they are not necessarily the same thing. Aligning our passions with our strengths is a good way to ensure that we invest our talent in what we want to spend our time doing.
Where do others fit in?
It’s our life but other people are part of it and influence it for better or for worse. How do our colleagues, friends and family fit in? These questions may seem irrelevant, but they greatly influence our career decisions. It is important to know the value of the people in your life to avoid having regrets about the critical decisions you make to accommodate them. Are we willing to sacrifice certain relationships for our career? Will the people that matter to us understand our sacrifices? For our relationships to survive our tough decisions our purpose has to be clear and understood even if not fully agreed upon.
How do we get there?
After taking a deep look at ourselves, our strengths and the people in our life it is time to map out a plan for achieving our purpose. Remember those casual objectives and goals? This is where they come in. Our objectives and goals immediately become more meaningful when we centre them around the defining purpose we identify with. We must plot a course towards our defining purpose knowing that there may be route changes along the way. The destination however remains the same.
“purpose.” Merriam-Webster.com. 2017. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purpose/ (July 2, 2017).