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I still remember the day I decided to take control of my career. It was in 2016 and I was working as an accountant for a music label. I didn’t really have anything to complain about: the job, the environment, the people – everything was great… on paper.
But I just wasn’t fulfilled.
Not easy when everyone reminds you how “lucky” you are and that you “should” be grateful. Others don’t have that kind of opportunities.
In my field, if you are ambitious, career progression is pretty linear. You start as a junior analyst or accountant and work your way up to Finance Director or CFO with clearly defined steps to get there.
But on that particular day, I was completely out of sync. I just saw my job as a series of day-to-day task with no aim, no direction. No purpose.
As I looked at my to-do list one more time, I decided to face the music. Force myself to take a step back, understand my motivators, make a plan and take action.
This decision changed my life.
5 years later, I am now accessing my dream role, working in an environment that is right for me and with people that speak my language. I love my job. I don’t have that “Monday feeling” anymore. Things couldn’t be more positive.
So what did I do exactly to get there?
Well, this is what this post is all about. I’ll be sharing with you the steps I followed back then to find purpose at work and how to get there.
However – if you’re ready to take action now, click the link below to get your FREE workbook which contains powerful self-coaching tools to help you find purpose and create your very own strategy:
What Is Purpose?
Simply put, purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”.
I think the best way to define purpose at work is by using Simon Sinek’s framework (“It Starts With Why”):
Most of us go to work every day and know WHAT is expected of us. We’re also likely to know HOW to do it – or at least are training to get there.
But have you ever stopped to think: WHY am I doing it? What is the purpose? How does this fit in the bigger picture?
I’ll give you an example in my field. A finance analyst could say either:
- I create financial reports (WHAT)
- I analyse data to create financial reports (WHAT/HOW)
- I provide clarity and add value to the business by analysing data to create financial reports (WHY/HOW/WHAT)
In your opinion, which statement is the most likely to motivate the analyst in their day-to-day?
Why Finding Purpose At Work Matters?
Having purpose at work will make a huge difference to your job satisfaction and more generally will bring more balance to your life.
Here are a few reasons why:
- Purpose helps you stay focused
- Purpose makes you feel passionate about your goals
- Purpose gives you clarity in your career
- Purpose gives meaning to your everyday actions
- Purpose enables you to work with integrity
- Purpose enables you to be authentic
- Purpose helps you be courageous and take risks
- Purpose makes work more enjoyable
If these aren’t reason enough, you can think of purpose as your North Star. No matter where you are in your career, it will help you find the way forward.
3 Steps to Find Purpose At Work
Deciding that you want to find your purpose at work is already a great first step. Many people don’t go that far, mainly because they are afraid of what they could find.
After all, what if you are in the wrong career? What if you need to make drastic changes? Change is uncomfortable for most. So just the fact that you have read that far is already accomplishment enough (well done!).
Now, when I help professionals find purpose at work, the process always starts with understanding where they are now and what makes them tick. We can then build a vision for their career and craft a detailed action plan to get them there.
Step 1: Your Reality
Regardless of how you feel in your career right now, it’s important to understand what led you where you are.
It’s time to reflect and ask yourself the tough questions: what attracted you to this career originally? Was it intentional or did you just “end up here”? What do you love/hate about what you are doing now and what would need to change for it to be perfect?
It’s also really important to look at your life holistically, not just work. How balanced is your life right now? How are your finances? Your relationships? Do you have enough fun?
In the “Find Your Career Purpose” workbook, you’ll find a simple quiz to help you fill your Wheel of Life and visualise how balanced your life is right now:
By taking time to reflect, you’ll develop an awareness of what works, doesn’t work and why. In the next step, we’ll use this to fuel your vision.
Step 2: Your Vision
Now that you’re clear on your “today”, it’s time to look at your perfect “tomorrow”.
Visualise your perfect life 5 years from now. What does it look like outside of work? What do you do each day? When do you wake up? Who do you see? What hobbies do you have?
Now focus your attention back on your career. What do you do? What’s your job title? Who are your colleagues? What is your boss like? What type of organisation do you work for? What’s their culture? Where do you work? How much do you earn? What benefits do you have? What hours do you work? How much flexibility do you have?
Who do you want to be in your future? What characteristics do you have? How do you behave? What makes you proud?
Answering those questions is hard and will take you some time. It’s worth doing properly though, as your career purpose will slowly appear as you go through the reflection.
Once you are comfortable with your “ideal life” and your “ideal self”, you can start defining your career purpose using words that motivate you. Words you can and will relate to. Words that guide you through every decision in your career.
Ready to start the hard work? Click here!
Step 3: Your Strategy
The last step, once you understand your purpose at work, is to articulate the strategy to get you there.
What would you need to have put in place in 12 months to be on track to achieve your 5-year vision? What will you have achieved?
What do you need to do in the next 3 months to be on track to achieve your 12-months plan? Your quarterly goals need to be challenging but realistic and specific enough for you to be proud of them.
What exactly would you need to do to achieve this in the next 3 months? How can you get it?
Achieving these goals is your NUMBER ONE priority for the next 3 months. You owe it to yourself if you are serious about finding meaning and fulfilment in your career.
Are you ready to define clear goals to achieve your career purpose? Get the FREE workbook here!
You’re Never Done Finding Purpose At work
Finding your purpose at work will have a huge impact on your professional and personal life, as you evolve in congruence with your values and principles every day.
But purpose is not static – what makes it relevant to you now might not be as relevant in a few years.
Wait, isn’t this contradicting the whole point of having a North Star?
Not quite. On your life journey, you will grow, learn new things and live new experiences that will transform you as a person.
It’s important to revisit your purpose each year to confirm that you are still heading in the right direction
Finding purpose at work helped me make certain decisions, such as moving across the country and changing industries. But starting a family shifted some of my priorities and created new ones. My purpose and what I wanted out of my career started to change. Not drastically but enough to warrant reflecting on my goals.
Check-in with yourself in-depth every year. I do it in December as it aligns nicely with setting new-year objectives (you can use the workbook to do this as well).
It’s not easy. It’s uncomfortable. It takes effort.
But taking time to reflect and finding your purpose at work will make a huge difference to your career and your life.
No more “going through the motions” at work. No more endless to-do lists with nothing to show for it. No more confusion.
Having a North Star is like having a guardian angel whisper you advice every time you are presented with a decision.
Well done for making it that far, but please, don’t stop here. Do the work. It’s worth it.
Go ahead and download the workbook to get started.
And if you need guidance or have any questions on the process, you can always contact me, I’d be happy to help!