Today I’m addressing Lacy’s question on finding your purpose. Thank you Lacy for submitting a question! 🙌
I’ve been stuck trying to figure out my purpose for my professional career …
- Should I aim for a bigger title and more leadership?
- [Should I start] my own business so I have more agency in decision making?
Right now, I’m taking stock of things – what are the career boxes that absolutely need to be checked for me to feel satisfied and what are the nice to haves? Do you have any tips on how to clarify your purpose?
Oh Lacy – I see you and feel your struggle! Trying to find your purpose can feel so damn overwhelming.
Your head is probably swimming with so many possibilities and questions and honestly – that’s really exhausting.
(And trying to figure out your purpose from a place of exhaustion usually doesn’t work.)
So let’s dive into Lacy’s question.
The first thing I want to call is out that your purpose is bigger than the job role or the industry that you work for.
If you’re feeling stuck with your career path in any way, I recommend you read today’s article and really think about the questions I’m asking here.
I promise you – if you implement these steps, you can start to change your approach to finding the right path for yourself.
Get out of the WHAT
“Should I am for a bigger title…” or “Should I start my own business…” – these are some of the things Lacy is ruminating over.
You can’t answer the question of “What’s my purpose” or path in the specific job title or the industry. The job that you do is a product of your purpose.
I know it’s difficult to get out of the “what.” Your prefrontal cortex – which is responsible for planning and decision-making – needs something tangible to hold on to.
And it’s much easier to speak to your career in terms of the job role or the industry than what you actually want on a deeper level.
So if this sounds like you and you’re living in the WHAT, what should you do instead?
Make a list of all the things you’re passionate about
At Work Bigger, we teach a 4-part framework on finding your purpose.
Interests + Values + Strengths + Bringing it all Together = your mission. Within these four areas, we look at your experiences, pain points and basically what has shaped your beliefs.
It’s simple, but not easy.
In this article, I’m going to cover your interests and how to leverage your interests to make sense of what you really want to do. (Here’s an article on values.)
Start by making a list of all the things you’re passionate about. If this is tough, think about what you do in your free time. What podcasts do you listen to? What movies do you watch? What can you not wait to do at the end of the day? What allows you to get into the zone?
For example, your list may look something like this:
- Reading leadership development books
- Listening to music
- Movies with friends
- Listening to political podcasts
If you’re thinking – “great, now what? I may be interested in cooking but I don’t want to be a chef,” please keep reading…
This is where I see so many people go wrong. (And I did the same thing for years, as well.) You’re assuming an interest needs to parlay into a job, but rather than taking the interest at face value, I want you to dig deeper.
What do these passions give you?
Again, don’t take the interests at face value. Instead ask yourself, what emotion or value are your interests satisfying?
For example, one of my clients loves cooking with her family. I asked her: What are you getting from cooking with your family?
She came to the conclusion that cooking with her family provides her a sense of connection, creativity and allows her to deepen her relationships with the people closest to her.
As we looked at her other interests, we saw that connection, working with others and creativity were prevalent as well, and that’s where we started to develop some themes around her needs.
For her to feel connected to her work, she needs to feel creative or needs to be in a job that allows her to connect with others. Lastly, connection is something she wants to bring forward into her work and leadership as well.
Assess your next steps
Now that you’re getting clarity on what you value about your interests, you can hopefully see that you’re not as unfocused as you think. There are clear themes that show up.
Your interests are a vehicle to fulfillment – and it’s what you get from them that’s most important.
The next step is to think about how you want to bring this interest or need forward in your life.
Is this something you want to do through your job? Is that feasible?
If not, how else can you align your day with your interests?
Spend a few minutes brainstorming here.
I’ll keep sharing more on the blog how to bring your purpose to fruition. Stay tuned for more.