Now we have plowed through months of this COVID-19 pandemic and we are all starting to see the light again at the end of the tunnel. I personally think most of us are now asking this very important single question – How do I know what my purpose is?
You might now be asking yourself…what’s the importance of purpose in life and I like to say:
‘When we are able to connect with a sense of purpose it adds significant value to life. Research has revealed that a sense of purpose is actually related to increased psychological well-being and can help people recover from and cope with stressful life events.’ E.g. Coronavirus pandemic
Having weathered the ‘dot com’ crash in the early 90’s, accelerated through the Bernie Madoff crash / investment scandal in late 2008, I too, have been thinking about my purpose again. BUT, since this isn’t my ‘first rodeo’, I believe there is a key reminder to regain your confidence, passion and purpose with life. In fact, the fastest way to find purpose in life is through the art of introspection: diving into the deeper essences of who you are to pull out the pieces to assemble your purpose puzzle.
Importantly, on the topic of “Purpose,” I have long been inspired by the amazing, Roy Spence, co-founder and chairman of The Purpose Institute and co-Founder and chairman of GSD&M, a marketing communications and advertising company based in Austin, Texas. Spence co-authored the book, “It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For: Why Every Extraordinary Business is Driven by Purpose.” Additionally, I love the phrase Roy ‘coined’ – “Companies with a Purpose are motivated by the idea of making a positive difference in the lives of the people they serve.”
Note: more recently, he authored “The 10 Essential Hugs of life,” a collection of heartwarming reminders about the need for gratitude, love and goodness in life!
I have especially loved a couple of his great ‘client’ and about how he and his agency came to work on iconic campaigns such as “Don’t Mess with Texas” and “Bags fly free” for Southwest Airlines. He has been a ‘role model’ from a distance BUT, always admired his wise words and wisdom. Importantly, I love the fact Roy constantly states – “THE HIGHEST PERFORMING ORGANIZATIONS AND MOST BELOVED BRANDS OF OUR TIME HAVE A PURPOSE BEYOND MAKING MONEY.”
The visionary futurist, Buckminster Fuller stated, “The purpose of our lives is to add value to the people of this generation and those that follow.” In short, to leave this world a better place than it was when you arrived. It could be in terms of adding convenience, education, entertainment, enlightenment, health, beauty, joy, humor, technology, or any other way you personally can serve other people or the planet.
And here are the key steps I have consistently used to propel myself out of the past stock market collapses and recessions:
Step 1: Find out what drives you.
Step 2: Find out what energizes you.
Step 3: Find out what you are willing to sacrifice for.
Step 4: Find out who you want to help.
Step 5: Find out how you want to help.
I believe that in 2020, Purpose’s mission is to fight for an open, transparent, just and habitable world based on laws, God and values. Right now, that fight for truth and transparency is more critical than ever, and the just world we want feels very far away e.g. like the US race discussions that have escalated since the #JusticeForFloyd tragedy happened last month.
It’s more important than ever that we show up for each other, our families, our tribe, our communities, and the movement of front-line organizations doing the work of supporting communities, demanding better and holding police, politicians, lawmakers and leaders to account.
It’s a question as old as time: “What is my purpose in life?” As far back as the fourth century BC, Aristotle was pondering life’s purpose and developing his theory of teleology, or the idea that everything in life has purpose. And in today’s fast-paced, technology-filled world, where we are being pulled in many directions at once, finding your purpose seems more important than ever.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FINDING YOUR PURPOSE
“If you’re not growing, you’re dying” – Tony Robbins famously once stated – which is why growth and high performance is addictive to many of us! We naturally only feel fulfilled when we’re improving ourselves or our lives in some way. Everything in life is calling to us to grow.
When we stop growing, we start feeling pain, fear and anxiety. We are then susceptible to envy as we look around and see what everyone else has that we don’t. Instead of asking “What is my purpose in life?” you start coveting status, material goods and power. But all those things will ultimately leave you feeling empty.
Goals, like buying a house or opening a business, yield a sense of achievement and are essential to living the life you desire. But purpose takes your life to an even higher level. I also believe, progress equals happiness. Achieving goals does not equal happiness. So, if you’re asking yourself, “What is my purpose?” what you’re really asking for is progress. And fulfillment isn’t a luxury or leisure activity – it’s a necessity.
Research shows that finding your purpose is linked to a healthier and longer life too Researchers surveyed nearly 7,000 older adults on the relationship between mortality and finding your purpose. Participants who did not have a strong sense of meaning in their lives were more than twice as likely to die prematurely as those who had figured out their purpose in life. Having a sense of purpose also reduced the incidence of cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.
These results were universal, even when controlled for income, race, gender and education level. Researchers concluded that asking yourself what your purpose in life is – and finding it – is as important for longevity as is living a healthy lifestyle.
WHAT IS MY PURPOSE? IT STARTS FROM WITHIN
If you’re feeling lost in life, ungrounded and without a sense of purpose, it can be a very disorienting feeling. You may feel frustrated with yourself and your lack of direction. Be gentle with yourself. Everyone who has ever asked themselves “What is my purpose?” began from a place of uncertainty. Their hesitancy was what prompted them to dig deep and find greater meaning.
When you feel depleted searching for meaning in life, take a deep breath and center yourself. It’s by looking within that you’re able to identify your values – the beliefs you hold most dear as a guiding force in life. So be patient as you learn how to find purpose in life.
HOW TO FIND PURPOSE IN LIFE
It is a combination of the science of achievement and the art of fulfillment and joy that creates the road to happiness and a life of meaning. To succeed in finding your purpose, you must master this balance.
- CHASE YOUR PASSIONS
What are you passionate about? If you can figure that out, you may find the key to a purpose-driven life. Think about it this way, if you’re doing something you’re NOT passionate about, you’re usually doing it with a poor attitude, a lazy demeanor and not going to stick with it! BUT, when you work on projects, clients or brands you are passionate about you feel fulfilled, happy and joyous no matter how hard the work becomes.
Speaking from a personal standpoint, I love to write. Sometimes writing is difficult and draining, but I do it anyway. I also feel fulfilled and excited when I write. Yes, I might get angry and frustrated when criticized, but guess what! I still do it and I start with a determination. If you chase your passions in life, you will surely realize your purpose.
- SEARCH INWARD
The questions “What is my purpose in life?” AND … “How can I be fulfilled and happy?” are actually the same. If you let your past conditioning control how you evaluate that and dictate how to discover your purpose, you’re going to live a life based on others’ expectations. You can never truly understand how to find your purpose by looking outside of yourself. Everything you need is right at your fingertips.
- PUT PURPOSE BEFORE GOALS
If you focus only on achieving short-term goals, you will never find your true passion or learn how to find your purpose. The goals you work toward must always be based on finding your purpose. If they’re not, you’ll only feel a fleeting sense of accomplishment and will soon be seeking something more. You won’t be able to see that life is happening for you instead of to you.
- FOCUS ON WHAT YOU HAVE
If you develop a value system and focus on a growth mindset, your purpose in life becomes much clearer. You question less and less how to find your purpose because you feel like you have more of the answers and that you are on the path to achieving meaningful goals.
- TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR LIFE
True fulfillment comes from designing your own life. This is how you unlock your limitlessness. To find your purpose, you must decide what’s truly right, and know it in your heart and soul. You must not let yourself be driven by fear or anxiety. A decision made from fear is always the wrong decision. It will not help you understand “What is my purpose?” but instead confuse the issue even more.
- EXAMINE WHAT ALREADY COMES EASY TO YOU
Can you pick up a pencil and sketch a lifelike portrait? Have you always been able to pick out a tune on a piano after you’ve heard it only once? When you look closely at the activities or skills that have always come easily to you, you’ll likely stumble upon passions that you can turn into a highly profitable career and your lifestyle!
- DEVELOP YOUR OWN LIFE VISION STATEMENT
Before you can ask yourself “What is my purpose?” you first have to know what an ideal world looks like and how you fit into it. Creating a life vision statement involves identifying what life would look like if everyone were living up to their fullest potential. This will help you develop a roadmap to guide you in the proper direction.
- THINK ABOUT WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY & HAPPINESS
When asking themselves “What is my purpose in life?”, some people don’t even know where to start. If you fall into this category, it helps to look back on your life and identify the times when you felt the most joy. Was it when you were connecting with your partner/lover/better half? Making a successful presentation at work? When you discover what brings you joy, you usually discover where your passions lie.
- WRITE OUT YOUR STORY
Writing helps us organize our thoughts – and discover new ones we may not even know we had. We’ve all encountered obstacles in our lives. What strengths do you have that helped you get through tough times? How have you helped others? And how have other people helped you? Putting your life in writing can reveal hidden meanings you may not see otherwise.
- MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
“What is my purpose?” is a deep question that takes time and reflection to answer. When you spend all your time running from one commitment to another, you never have time to just sit quietly and reconnect with yourself and happiness! Make sure you schedule enough personal time to reduce the noise and demands of the outer world and focus on what you want.
Finally, your purpose in life is likely to grow and change as you grow and change, so be flexible. You might also find that learning how to find your purpose may require letting go of an old identity or interest. Being flexible lets you grow in integrity while being true to yourself. When you develop your core values and stop seeking external affirmation, you’ll find that the question of “What is my purpose in life?” is much easier to answer.
It takes courage to choose a purpose and even more courage to live your life based on it! Once you have purpose, you will have two essential elements for a truly joyous and happy life – money and meaning! In this way, you will become ‘rich’ in every sense of the word.
Always list your unique abilities, talents, strengths, interests and joys. From there choose an overall purpose for your life. Clarify it by writing it down. Then choose an initial vehicle with which you can serve people that is in alignment with your purpose. Begin today to live your life based on purpose.
Importantly, make a “Declaration” today – you are here for a reason – and you have an important role to do and you live on your life’s purpose! Additionally, create a ritual so that you don’t have to think about what inspires you, motivates you and gets you to take action. Just do it – even if you have to fake it – until it becomes a genuine part of who you are!
More about Geoff De Weaver:
Geoff De Weaver is a super strategist who directs B2B & Fortune 500 clients to define their vision, create a strategy, and harness their internal innovation to grow their business or reinvent their products.
Expert at building and transforming brands, businesses, and digital and physical customer experiences at scale. Geoff pioneered Internet Marketing in 1996 when his agency helped launch the first Australian Internet Service Provider launch onto the NASDAQ and then set up and launch The Omnicom Groups (NYSE:OMC) first Digital Agency in San Francisco in 1999. Clients included: DirecTV, EarthLink, Nissan, Pfizer, E*Trade, Webvan, Electronic Arts, Shutterfly.com, Gardens.com, Palm, XM Radio, eLuxury.com, and TiVo, billing $400 million annually.
History of success developing and executing cross-channel global marketing campaigns to drive brand positioning, equity, and awareness while increasing engagement and sales and loyalty.
Innovative entrepreneur, author, speaker, and advertising executive with vast expertise driving business growth, reinventing brands, and implementing global marketing campaigns.
Connect with Geoff at:
Twitter at: https://twitter.com/geoff_deweaver
Amazon Authors: https://www.amazon.com/Geoff-De-Weaver/e/B007DAEKFG
Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXLsYLrl7w8