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“Attach yourself to a purpose, not a job”

Attach yourself to a purpose

I’ve been thrilled to see different leaders sharing how important it is to attach yourself to a mission (or purpose) vs. a job.

It’s like – finally, thank you, for sharing this absolutely critical message! I wish this had been the message throughout my childhood years, college years and beyond.

But I’ll take it now too.

We saw with COVID-19 and the changing economy that attaching to a job doesn’t provide the security we’re looking for. A job can be so fleeting and dependent on external circumstances.

At the same time, when unexpected changes you may start looking for that deeper purpose so that your next career move is the right one.

I unknowingly started looking for my mission at the age of 10, and I continued to look for it until I turned 31.

Why did it take that long?

Well first, I didn’t have the right tools,  resources or support. 

But, I was also asking the wrong question. I grew up asking myself, “What’s my passion?” 

If I could just find that one thing I was so passionate about, I’d figure out the rest of my life. 

Can you relate?

If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

Let’s start asking the right questions so that you can attach yourself to a mission vs. a job.

Here are 3 steps you can take right now (+ an extra resource) to help you attach to a purpose.

1. Stop asking “What’s my passion?”

“What’s my passion?” is a loaded question, and it’s not helpful. 

Think about it – do you have ONE passion? So few people know what they want to do with their lives and careers. 

I bet you’re like most people who read this blog, you likely have multiple passions and interests so asking this question sets you up to feel defeated.

“I don’t have ONE passion,” and “How can I turn my passion into an actual job?” – things I hear all the time.

Let’s talk about passion vs. mission. 

Passion is fleeting. You could be really passionate about something today and not really be that into it tomorrow. Also, you can’t always translate a passion into a career. 

I was really passionate about wine-making in my twenties; however, moving to Napa or Italy to be a winemaker didn’t quite feel right. 

There’s a difference between passion and mission. 

Passion feels exciting, fun and interesting. It fires you up and if you think about the energy behind passion, there’s a high charge. 

Mission on the other hand, is different. A mission feels grounding, and you feel it deep in your gut or your heart. It gives you a sense of peace and meaning. And the energy is more steady. 

Passion can certainly be part of your mission, but it is not your mission.

2.Don’t be afraid to look at your painful experiences

At Work Bigger, we teach a specific framework to help members find their mission. Download it here

The framework consists of identifying your interests, your strengths, and your values. 

With each section, we have members go really deep to also identify experiences (sometimes painful ones) that have shaped their way of thinking and feeling. 

This isn’t necessarily fun because it brings up a lot of emotions. But it’s necessary. 

Attaching yourself to a purpose is an emotional thing. It’s important to understand your experiences and how they’ve shaped you. 

As I was watching Michelle Obama’s Becoming on Netflix, I heard her speak at length about knowing and sharing our stories. 

“Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own,” she said to the young adults in the room. She encouraged them to not focus solely on their GPA and test scores, but instead to focus on what they’re made of – what sets them apart. 

I’d love to translate the same advice to your career change. Don’t focus just on the resume and your LinkedIn profile. Go deeper and focus on who you are at your core. 

3.Acknowledge the resistance

You may have clarity on your mission and know deep down what you want, but I’ll tell you – actually allowing yourself to see that requires some work. 

I hear all the time, “What if I don’t have a mission?” or “What if I do all this work and it doesn’t work out for me?”  There’s a lot of fear here. I totally get it. For years I thought, “What if what I want just isn’t possible?” 

I mean, if it hasn’t happened until now, why would it happen, right? 


You don’t have clarity on your purpose yet because so far you’ve been going through the motions – climbing the corporate ladder or getting a degree or doing what you think you need to be doing.

If you want different results, you have to try something different. 

How does it feel when I say that? 

Let me repeat that. If you want different results, you have to try something different. 

What does “different” mean to you? What habits do you need to change? What does your new strategy look like? 

You’re going to resist doing something different because it’s not comfortable. It’s ok. Acknowledge it, and keep moving forward. It means you’re on the right track. 

In conclusion

Attaching yourself to a mission versus a job will give you a lot of freedom. A mission will ground you and will be there with you during layoffs, pay cuts, and furloughs. It will direct your next steps and show you what to say no to and what to say hell yes to. 

After you get clear on your mission, then you can get clear on the job opportunity. 

In case you haven’t worked through this yet, I’ve put together a workbook for you to start working on your mission right now. Download it here. Take the time to try something different.

Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

More posts by Belma McCaffrey

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