The world is a mess, or rather the world feels a lot messier than it did in 2019 – largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has been tough to deal with and yet deal with it still we must.
It has been challenging in different ways. For some of us, working at home and staying at home so much has been oddly confusing, lonely and isolating. Some of us have been facing reduced hours or furlough, with a sense of Groundhog Day setting in and sapping us of energy. Some of us have had to deal with huge waves of change, requiring us to make a series of difficult decisions in an information vacuum, and feeling totally overwhelmed. And for some of us, we have had to jump up even more gears, work more frantically as demand has soared and resources have been pinched, re-doubling our efforts week after week, leaving us feeling tired, frustrated and very, very overworked. Some of us have faced a mix of these scenarios, or all of them, or more. And yet we need to carry on, lift ourselves up, get motivated and keep going.
There is no one way to get yourself going when faced with such troubling times. However, whether you are feeling lost, lethargic, stunned or weary, finding your purpose can give you a kick start. Whilst that sounds like a massive undertaking, finding purpose really doesn’t have to be that hard. You will need to take a break. Stop for a little while. Look at the bigger picture.
Being purposeful is hugely motivating, it is good for our wellbeing and it helps in our interactions with others too. The idea of finding your purpose at work is founded on one simple key principle: we want to achieve the result or outcome that will benefit us, our organisation and the people we work for.
Try this exercise, it can take as little as 10 minutes. (The exercise asks you to focus on finding your purpose at work, though of course you can adapt it to other contexts.)
As we work through the exercise to help you find and deliver on your purpose, keep in mind the following guidelines.
In order to set a tangible purpose you need to:
Now consider the overarching purpose of your role – this is how you contribute to your organisation’s success and strategic goals.
Your overarching purpose should include:
Use the table below to help
|Key questions to identify your purpose||Words to use|
|What’s your key contribution? Use a strong action verb||‘to inspire. . . ’
‘to offer direction to. . . ’
‘to build up. . . ’
‘to present. . . ’
‘to support. . . ’
‘to enable. . . ’
|Who do you work alongside or who are your key internal customers? Describe your target group||‘the support team’
‘the SMT. . . ’
‘others in the recreation dept. . . ’
‘the board. . . ’
|How is success measured in your job?||‘to raise funds’
‘to promote community safety. . . ’
‘to ensure members are fully informed’
‘to tackle discrimination. . . ’
|What’s the result? – consider especially your external customers. What is the implication or payoff?||‘in order to improve the lives of. . . ’
‘so that all decisions are made in an informed way. . . ’
‘in a way that attracts significant media attention’
‘so that users feel part of the centre’
If you’re stuck, listed below are some simple examples:
|Finance officer||‘to ensure that the SMT has timely and accurate financial information to enable them to make informed decisions’|
|Access manager||‘to ensure all xyz’s services are available to all of our users and customers’ especially those with disabilities|
|Theatre director||‘to work with the actors, writers, and stage crew to produce drama that excites and enthuses the audience’|
|Fundraiser for HIV charity||‘to secure corporate funds and other support that will help us provide help and advice to people with HIV and Aids’|
Finding your purpose can help you gain control and deliver results in the following ways:
Ultimately, your purpose reminds you of what really matters. In doing so, it can be motivating, energising, and inspiring. By examining your purpose, and holding it front of mind, you will move towards it.
Your purpose is your rock. But even rocks change over time. Use your purpose as a reflection aid and keep refreshing it to make sure it is always relevant and useful. As the pandemic continues to create change your purpose may keep shifting too. Ask yourself the following:
And then repeat. Review your purpose every few months, write it out. Check every action, check your stop-doing list, share it with others. And repeat. And repeat.
If you’ve found this article helpful and you would like more information, please call +44 (0)20 7978 1516 to speak to one of our experienced Learning & Development Consultants or contact us online.
If you would like to learn more join us for the next Managing Multiple Priorities training. In just 8 hours you’ll learn how to focus your energy to deliver results, manage heavy workloads and constant interruptions, and improve your overall work-life balance.
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Yvette Gyles, Director