Every one of us is on a journey, a unique path that offers both challenges and opportunities. However, what truly defines our journey isn’t the road we walk but the reason we walk it. This reason, our ‘why’, is the beacon that guides us, especially when the journey gets tough. But how do we discover this ‘why’? And once we do, how do we use it to transform our lives and the lives of those around us?
The Unseen Captain of Our Ship: Understanding 'Purpose'
In the hustle of hitting targets, meeting deadlines, and juggling personal commitments, we rarely stop to ask ourselves: “Why am I doing all of this?” This ‘why’ is our purpose, and it’s more integral to our lives than we often realise. It’s our inner compass, especially when we find ourselves at life’s numerous crossroads.
Purpose is not about grandeur or having an earth-shattering goal for humanity. It’s deeply personal. It’s about what gives you a sense of fulfilment and what aligns with your inner values. The beauty of purpose is that it’s not one-size-fits-all; it’s unique to each person.
Let’s consider Mike, for instance, a production team leader on the night shift. Mike wasn’t leading groundbreaking projects or giving motivational speeches. He was a regular guy who found his purpose almost by accident.
Mike enjoyed the camaraderie at work. He thrived on the interpersonal connections, the jokes shared during breaks, and the sense of unity within his team. He recognised that the night shift was often a grind for his team, so he initiated a friendly, ongoing ‘game’ with the day shift. It was a simple concept based around efficiency and reducing waste, but with an added flavour of healthy competition. The prize? A fun night out sponsored by the company.
What Mike did was tap into his purpose. His ‘why’ wasn’t about being the most productive shift or cutting company costs, though those were side benefits. Mike was driven by enhancing his and his team’s work experience, making each night less of a grind and more of a communal effort toward a shared, enjoyable goal. His purpose was rooted in camaraderie, in lifting the spirits of those around him.
Discovering Your 'Why': The Journey Within
So, how do you find your ‘why’?
It starts with self-reflection. It requires you to ask yourself some difficult questions and be willing to listen honestly to the answers. What are you passionate about? What have been the most fulfilling moments in your life so far? What core values drive you? These questions are just the starting point, guiding you toward your inner narrative, the story that you tell yourself about yourself.
Once you’ve identified your purpose, even if it’s as simple as creating a positive work environment like Mike, the next step is to align your actions with this purpose. This might mean making changes, some small, some significant, to steer your life’s ship in the direction of your ‘why’.
Purpose in Action: Charting the Course
Identifying your purpose isn’t the end; it’s a new beginning. It’s where the actual work starts, the work of integrating this purpose into your everyday life, making it the foundation upon which you build not just your goals but your approach to reaching them.
For Mike, it was about nurturing a positive, engaging work environment. He needed to maintain his approachability, come up with fresh ideas to keep the team engaged, and, most importantly, stay authentic. He couldn’t fake his reason for caring; it had to come from his ‘why’.
And this is where goal setting enters the scene. Your purpose forms the ‘why’ of the goals you set. These goals, however, need to be specific, achievable, and tied back to your purpose. They’re not just items on a to-do list; they’re signposts on your journey toward living a life aligned with your ‘why’.
Navigating the Highs and Lows
Purpose isn’t a magic wand. There will be days when motivation wanes, when challenges seem overwhelming. On these days, your ‘why’ becomes crucial. It’s the light that guides you through uncertainty and struggle.
Mike had his fair share of difficulties. Some nights, the targets just seemed too high, or team morale was low. However, by focusing on his purpose – enhancing the collective work experience – he could navigate these rough patches. His ‘why’ provided the resilience to persevere.
In Conclusion: Embracing Your Journey
Your ‘why’ is out there, waiting for you to grasp it, to guide your journey through life. Whether you’re a team leader on the night shift, a CEO, a student, or a stay-at-home parent, your purpose is yours alone, unique and invaluable.
Discovering and embracing your ‘why’ is not just about personal fulfilment. It’s about how you impact every life you touch along the way. It’s about leaving an imprint, however small, on the path you’ve walked. So, take a moment. Ask yourself the tough questions. Your journey toward your purpose is a voyage worth embarking on.
Whatever game you decide to play in life, remember, your purpose is not just the trophy at the end of the race; it’s every reason you’re running.