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How do you find ‘purpose’?

One silver-lining to the past couple of years is that we have been given the opportunity to pause and reflect on ourselves, our community and what is important to our well-being.

Terms like ‘great resignation, ‘great relocation and ‘great re-alignment have come to the fore with ‘purpose’ front and centre of these conversations. For generations we have organised our lives around work and have traditional social structures in place to support this three-stage life of education, work and retirement.

As we know, we are all living longer and while I’ve shared previously the work of Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, this new lens brings big questions to life:

What exactly does work mean to me? What do I have to get out of it? Is it a salary that facilitates the rest of my life or is it something more purposeful?

In the context of work – employer and employee relationships, let me be clear on my perspective here – individuals decide what their purpose is, what is meaningful to them. Organisations have a facilitating role, as a conduit. The organisation needs to link or align the stated organisational purpose with what they are asking individuals to do and how they measure against this.

But, individuals alone decide if this brings their purpose or meaning to life – that is, whether or not they have a sense of belonging at the organisation. To outsource the responsibility of finding meaning or purpose to your employer is unreasonable and to believe organisations can dictate purpose to others is arrogant.

There’s a fine balance to be struck here. 

Research shows employees who say they find purpose or meaning in their work are:

  • 6.5 x more likely to report higher resilience
  • 4 x more likely to report better health
  • 6 x more likely to want to stay at the company.

Hmmm, so how do you find this elusive sense of ‘purpose’?

Well, for a start I don’t think you ‘find’ it at all. It’s already there – it’s what makes you, YOU! And it’s not singular – all of us have multiple sources of meaning and purpose in our lives. It’s where we find value and our values find us.

Lastly, as we evolve as humans – have different experiences, meet new people, discover new places – so too can our purpose. I don’t know about you, but I certainly had a different sense of purpose and where I found meaning when I was in my 20’s compared to now, when I’m in my 40’s.

With this in mind, my questions for you to consider are: 

  • When did I feel most alive today?
  • When did I feel most drained?

Reflecting on your responses to these two questions over a 30 day period may offer some interesting insights on how you feel about what you do at work, what’s going on in your life, and guide you, as an evolving human, on what gives you meaning at this point in your life.

Feel free to share your thoughts and responses.

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    Welcome to the Arena!

    I’m Dr Jess Murphy, Founder of Pathway to Your Potential Pty Ltd.

    We collaborate with people and organisations at all levels, around the world, to enhance leadership effectiveness, drive more inclusive, higher performing cultures, and leverage difference in all its forms.

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    Dr Jess Murphy – Founder

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