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Finding Purpose at Work - What You Should Know

What makes you get out of bed and to the office (or the next room) each morning? You may say, the people I work with, donut day, the pay check, the value I feel in my work, or the difference I make in the world. All great reasons to motivate yourself each morning - whatever it is, own it. Motivation is triggered differently for every person and it can change throughout your life cycle. If you are missing your "why", this is dedicated to you.

The last two and a half years have proven difficult for many to reconnect with their purpose at work. We see many trends reshaping what the workplace will look like in the next five years. We will see an uptick in collaboration, new work schedules, automation in processes, further disconnect with remote work, more professional development opportunities, and an all inclusive workplace for work/life balance.

On average, you will spend one third of your life, close to 90,000 hours at work in your lifetime - so lead with purpose. Purpose is defined as the reason for which something is done or created or for which something (someone) exists. You were born with a purpose, a talent, a gift that needs to be shared with the world.

"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why" - Mark Twain

Don't rely on others (your employer) to find your purpose at work. Your employer has a mission and vision statement that they hope their employees will align with. This could have been the reason you were attracted to your employer from the start. But maybe you have lost the connection to your true purpose and how it aligns with your work at work.


Five steps to find your purpose at work

  1. What responsibilities, activities, opportunities, benefits, projects, or actions give you joy at work? Make a list of the top 10 items that fit this category. Limit to two to three words per item. Example: The people.

  2. Why does each item give you joy? Next to each item, write a sentence explaining the "why". Example: My co-workers inspire me to do my best work so I can contribute to the team in a positive way.

  3. Rate the 10 items from 1-10 in order of which gives you the most joy (10) to less joy (1).

  4. Evaluate your results. What are you most inspired by? Tasks, projects, helping others, connection to others, contributing to the organization, being creative, customers, the culture, the company's vision/objective, having a work family, the benefits, using your degree/schooling, professional development opportunities, etc.

  5. If you could change one thing, something you could change that you would change, what would that be? Take note of this one thing and let it resonate with you. Allow yourself to hold on to it and really focus on how you can make this one thing a reality.

You may find at the end of this exercise that you are the perfect fit for your current organization and that you truly believe in your purpose. If you find at the end of the exercise that you don't find much joy in your current situation, it might be time for a change. It may be possible that at one time you had great purpose in your work at your organization and today have lost that connection. That could be for many reasons. And not all bad! Employment tends to be a life cycle. If you have put your all in your current situation and lack purpose, it might be time to evaluate what once gave you purpose in your work. Then make a move!

That move could be a change in departments within the organization, it could be seeking a promotion, maybe taking a step back from a management role, maybe you see an opportunity in the company that isn't being capitalized on and want a special project, or maybe it is filling a new role at a new organization you better align with today.


If you are struggling - work with a coach.

The above exercise is one tactic to find your purpose but it may be a larger question for you. Your "why" or purpose may be impacted by multiple factors that do not include your current place of employment.

There are eight quadrants that make up a well balanced life (career/business, family/friends, finances, romance/intimacy, health/selfcare, social/fun, personal/spiritual, physical environment). Some days you may fill 6 or the 8 perfectly and 2 of the 8 need help. This is where a coach can work with you to discover how to build up each quadrant to live your best life and prosper at work.

Through working with a coach you will be able to articulate not only your purpose at work but in the other seven areas of your new well-balanced life.

You can live the life you want with proper work/life balance. You can stive for whatever ambitions you have with support, clarity, and a goal. It is within your grasp!

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