Last week I attended one of my favourite business networking groups and it turned out to be a fabulous way to start the year. The presenter, Leonard Whittaker, facilitated an interactive session exploring purpose.
“What does purpose mean to you?” Leonard asked.
“Is it important? If so, why?” he invited us to consider.
The discussions were lively and interesting which probably says a lot about the topic. For me, purpose feels like a sense of aliveness. It is an inspirational energy … it has a lightness to it. It offers me a direction, is bigger than me and it feels like what I’m called to do.
I feel like my purpose has evolved over time, although I think that at its heart it has always been a desire to help others. Right now it presents as my mission to create thriving individuals, workplaces and communities. Recalling my purpose definitely allows me to navigate the less engaging activities that I currently need to do as a business owner!
There was some discussion about whether it’s possible to find purpose in something you don’t enjoy? What do you think about that? At our table, we agreed that finding a purpose where you are can be an amazing vehicle for fostering wellbeing.
I’ve observed a couple of examples of finding the purpose where you are recently … I put a call out to friends to see a band. One of those friends was telling me recently that she’s taken a new job which doesn’t inherently “light her up” but that that she can see will take her towards her goal of stashing away money to fund her travel plans. When a few chimed in to say they’ll come to the gig, she posted a nicely worded decline because she’s saving for travel.
This morning I noticed purpose kick in for myself. Breathless, sticky and with a shirt sporting large sweat patches, I grinded the pedals on the stationary bike in an RPM class. I really dislike riding on the spot but what I know is that an RPM class is the perfect complement to twice weekly road rides to maintain a level of fitness. This purpose is exactly what carries me through the 45 minutes of absolute torture.
Have you reflected on your purpose? If not, I encourage you to think about. Purpose came up a lot when I was a career coach but often it seemed that “finding a purpose” weighed heavily on people – a pressure that left them feeling lost or inadequate in some way without it.
I think purpose tends to find us more than the other way round. You may have heard the saying “success leaves clues”, I think it’s similar for purpose.
It can be useful to think about what brings us joy … To consider any themes in compliments we’ve received … To reflect on when we most feel engaged with life. To listen to the whispers from our soul, or the universe, suggesting we should try something or nudging us with an idea.
Sometimes my careers clients would find their purpose when they stopped ‘doing’ quite so much … turning into ourselves and our life force can be a challenge when life is so full of distractions but I’ve found the rewards so worth the effort.
Wishing you a purpose-fuelled 2023!
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Donna Thistlethwaite is a Brisbane-based speaker and trainer specialising in mental health and resilience. She is an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Resilience at Work Facilitator with a passion for suicide prevention and for helping individuals, teams and organisations to THRIVE. You can find out about her next Mental Health First Aid courses here.