The Real Purpose of Purpose — 3 Missions For Success
On a day where the news is consumed with senselessness, yet another mass shooting, purpose becomes a paramount talking point. For some it means trying to know why, perhaps because that can feed their purpose: political, social, psychological, curiosity. For others it is trying to rationalize the unimaginable. While a sickening example of man’s inhumanity toward man it has it’s lessons my purpose here is to try and make something positive out of something so seemingly meaningless. My professional purpose is about bringing lessons to my clients, friends and followers so they might take actions to find their success, or to ask help finding their success. Purpose, in all it’s aspirations is a destination.
Let’s define Purpose as the reason for which something exists, is made, done, or used. A resoluteness or to set as an aim, intention or goal. Given this broad definition we can apply purpose to the very big, “why are we here?” and the very small, “get these done by 5 pm today!” We have purpose imposed upon us and proposed to us from the practical to the metaphysical. Given this vastness of purpose’s purposes let’s keep the focus more narrow and look at it from the lens of professional success. Surely even that context has dozens of sub-purposes so here are three purpose missions you might make sure you have locked in to allow a cascade of meaningful actions in your professional and your personal life. (A caveat is that I don’t believe in having one without the other!)
Mission 1 – The Higher Purpose
Any recovery therapist or 12-stepper will tell you that the biggest indicator for success in that program is the ability to acknowledge, and embrace the higher power concept. For many that creates conflict between ancient catechism and knowledge and ambiguity. That complexity is in altering destructive behavior. For a success model sans addiction, with only 3 steps here, the higher purpose needn’t be dogma but it must be your greatest truth. That isn’t a static ambition and your truth at 20 might be quite different than your truth at 40 and again at 60. Evolving our higher purpose allows us to direct our desires but the key is they have direction as a result.
Your higher purpose may be materialistic, may be practically defined or it may be more esoteric. “I want to be a Director by the age of 35,” and, “I’m a man of faith,” can both be defining higher purposes. Obviously, life takes on more depth when you see yourself in context beyond your minutiae but it must be sincere. For many their “ultimate” purpose is yet unrevealed, awaiting a significant life event, or an unrequited spiritual peregrination. Wherever you are in your quest for meaning claim your higher purpose now and build your life plan from that square one. No plan is perfect, no life charted without circumnavigation but if you aren’t planning to get somewhere you’ll likely get there.
Mission 2 – The Practical Purpose
There’s really only two reasons any of us work, money and satisfaction. Perhaps the higher aspiring make it money and love. The more cynical make it love of money. Again, the most important thing about success is knowing you get to define it. The trick is you can’t lie to yourself for too long (though we’ve all seen really strong efforts there for sure). To find the kind of success that affords happiness as a requisite byproduct you have to rationalize both of these factors. Does a certain dollar figure drive you, six figures, seven, eight? Why? Anyone can set a number, realistic or ambition but what sets the success course here is understanding the relationship.
You can be rich and you can be happy, you can be poor and be unhappy but the inverse of both is just as likely and there’s no guarantee the relationship between dollars and desires has a set score. Be practical, keep your purpose for money identified for its use not just its collection, though I guess you can argue that’s a valid purpose too. Factor in what satisfactions you need to be happy with as well as, more importantly, what are you able or willing to sacrifice or put up with to enable that pursuit with passion. The road to gold is rarely smooth but overpaying in sacrifice, or over-striving for money without meaning is not likely to bring the kind of success that has peace of mind as a bedfellow.
Mission 3 – The Joy Purpose
If you aren’t interested in having joy as a chaperon on your life journey then we aren’t meant to be sharing views or advise. I find it hard to consider any joyless life a success, in fact in the circular nature of purpose we might find joy straddling the higher purpose mission. For this thought exercise though take joy out of the spiritual and put it in the empiricism of doing. What are the first three things that come to mind if you are asked what you do to bring yourself joy? Now ask, what are the three most important things you do that bring joy? If those answers are the same you’ve probably got it figured out fairly well. If you missed on all three you may have some effort re-alinging to do in your life.
When we train behaviors and attitudes we acknowledge you won’t always feel like doing what you know you need to do. If, however, you do the things you need to your feelings about yourself are like to become unambiguous. You can’t feel your way to action but you can act your way to feeling. You have to make a priority of acting on your joy. It will be way more than three things but that’s a start. Identify your joy actions in your work, of course be deferential to the ones where the consequences are most positive. Leading a successful team or task effort is probably a better joy mission than leading the celebrity gossip brigade in the break room, but hey, it’s your joy, it’s your success, it’s your life.
Purpose gets us out of bed, gets us working, brings home the bacon and brings out the love we need to give and receive. That so many work, and live, with a poor sense of purpose may be the reason too many lives end up tragic. Not because the consequences are catastrophic like in a sad few cases in the news but in what is missed by too many. Don’t miss out on your life mission(s), your success and your joy. I hope that’s your purpose, I know it’s mine.
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