Nowadays when people talk about what they want to do with their lives, rarely will someone simply say they want to have a steady nine-to-five job that puts food on the table.
A generation or two ago, those were the requirements – a stable job that provided a steady income and had some room for progress. It wasn’t unusual for a person to only work for fewer than five different companies in their entire working career.
Take my mom for example, she’s worked at a total of four companies in her entire life. Her current game plan, at 52, is to hunker down at the fourth company and stick it out doing a job that she generally feels completely taken advantage in, all in order to get her pension plan in about ten to twelve years. While she feels connected to the organization’s written mission and goals, she feels that they are under-managed, and the budget is widely misused. Yet, she doesn’t feel secure leaving, so she will stay where she is, mildly unhappy and exhausted.
But my mom’s story is becoming more and more an experience of the past. Many people aren’t settling, they are looking for something more, in not only their careers, but also their lives in general. They aren’t willing to say okay to just any job, they are looking for a career, organization, or passion that provides them with a strong purpose.
Why we need purpose in our lives
Passion and purpose are similar, but they also have some unique differences. Following your passion is doing something you deeply desire and have great enthusiasm toward. Say it’s sports, writing, or photography – doing something you love is following your passion. However, having purpose is turning your passion into something that you can do, to change a certain situation, and make a difference. Purpose isn’t necessarily asking yourself “why am I here?” – but more about taking your passion and putting it into action.
The three kinds of purpose that we demand from life
People have been talking about our generation as one that needs to not only follow their passion, but also to have purpose in their lives. The types of purpose that people have come to need, and are starting to demand out of their jobs and daily routines are personal, social and public purpose.
#1 Personal purpose
Personal purpose is about allowing each individual space for personal growth, and expression. Nowadays, people are less willing to do meaningless work that doesn’t allow them to follow their passions and challenge them in any significant way. People want to do what they love, and at the same time keep growing as an individual.
#2 Social purpose
Social purpose is when an individual feels empowered and valued by their surrounding community. For many years, and arguably still, we have lost the connection to the people around us. Technology has made it too easy to avoid human contact and hibernate at our desks, on our computers and cellphones. Social purpose gives us the ability to reconnect with the people around us, and begin to relearn the importance of healthy human relationships that many of us have been programmed to overlook.
#3 Purpose to the public
Purpose to the public is when we offer something to those around us, give a service to someone or something in need. Purpose to the public is giving towards something greater than us. And in the world today, that is something a lot of people have recognized the value and importance of, and therefore, want to contribute towards.
5 things having a purpose in life can do for you
Purpose is being demanded by many people and no wonder – doing meaningless things isn’t going to cut it much longer. People want to have personal purpose, they want the ability to connect with the people around them and they want to service people and places in need. There are many things that having a purpose can do for a person, and I can think of five important ones.
#1 Purpose gives you meaning
Having meaning doesn’t always have to translate to something spiritual or religious. When a person has purpose, they understand what cause(s) are important to them and work towards contributing to those in a positive way. While you are pursuing your passion and following your purpose, whether it is in a career or your spare time, you get a deep gratification often unattainable if you are doing meaningless tasks on a day-to-day basis.
For example, when an organization’s purpose is to offer clean drinking water solutions to communities without resources, they find meaning while following their passion towards sustainability. With issues like climate change and poverty no longer avoidable, our world today has so many opportunities for people to find fulfillment by doing something with a purpose greater than themselves. [Read: 12 steps to change your life and find your own happiness]
#2 Purpose gives you determination
If you have a clear passion, backed with a purpose, there is nothing more motivating. If you know what it is you want to do, why you want to do it, and what the outcomes could be, you will have incredible focus and drive. You will devise a plan on how to get there, and you will make it happen because you have a very clear vision and goal.
A recent graduate who has a devoted passion for law, and a purpose to vocalize the need for fair and consistent contraceptive rights for working women is going to have a very clear vision of what they would like to achieve next. The purpose allows a focus and drive that perhaps passion alone can’t always muster.
#3 Purpose gives you confidence
Purpose allows an individual, or an organization, to feel confident and secure in where they are going, and the choices they are making. People unfortunately will doubt you, try to knock you down, they might say you are unqualified, or have lack of experience. But, if you have a purpose that is clear and you are passionate towards, you will remain self-assured and composed even when you face obstacles, which you undoubtedly will at some point. [Read: 6 big telltale excuses that get you nowhere]
#4 Purpose can lead to a stellar career
When you have a passion and define yourself a purpose, a very amazing career may transpire. Well, it won’t appear from thin air, and you will definitely have to do some leg-work. But if you’ve got a purpose, you’ve got the opportunity to find a job that let’s you live out your passion, and make a difference.
Say, for example, your purpose in life is to work with an organization to overcome societal barriers by engaging communities and bringing them together. That is a purpose that you could apply to so many fulfilling careers. You could work on a team that brings business opportunities to impoverished communities, or leads self-confidence and leadership workshops for at-risk youth. When you have a purpose, and you stick to it, the career possibilities become amazing. [Read: 10 things to think about to make your life a lot better]
#5 Purpose results in success
Whether you’re following a purpose in your career, or in your life in general, you are bound to find success. When you are working towards something that brings you personal growth, reconnects you with your surrounding communities, and allows you to give back, you will feel accomplished in a way that is extremely rewarding.
Success always means something different for each individual – but if success is happiness, a rewarding career, or the chance to contribute to a greater cause, then you are likely to find it when you have a defined purpose.
Overall, people need purpose
Purpose can be found at many different levels, and in many different situations, but if you’ve found something that you love to do and that allows you to achieve something meaningful, you are bound to feel successful. Even when obstacles arise if you’re working towards a clear goal, it is easier to navigate through the difficulties that life presents. [Confession: I really don’t know what to do with my life]
While I often talk to my mom about whether she feels purpose in her work, she largely resorts to the fact that she has little other option, and that it is just the way it has to be – career wise at least. She reminds me that she has managed to find purpose in other ways like volunteering in our community, and supporting our family in any way that she can.
For those of us with the opportunity to have purpose in our careers, and lives in general, we should take it. Not only does having purpose allow you to grow as an individual, it also allows you to connect to the people around you, and to contribute to a better world – which is what more of us should be doing!
[Read: 12 insightful life lessons to have a much better life]
Have you found your purpose yet? As elusive as it may seem, find it, and the way you see the world will change for the better. And happiness and progress, that will definitely follow!
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