Finding your why if work doesn’t do it for you
Purpose. A little word with a big impact.
Having a sense of purpose in life is what gets us out of bed in the mornings with a definite spring in our step. It’s the constant that keeps us motivated, even when we’re flagging; a little spark that ignites our passions and gives us something to talk about, think about, beyond those daily to-dos.
If you’re really lucky, you might find purpose in your work — but what if work doesn’t do it for you? What if your job pays the bills but does nothing for your passion? Then it might be time to think about what really makes you tick.
Your sense of purpose can be as unique as you are
If the idea of discovering ‘purpose’ is eluding you, try thinking of it as meaningful activity instead. Finding your purpose is ultimately about having something to direct your energy towards; it adds an extra layer of meaning to our lives, and helps to alleviate that ‘lost at sea’ feeling (something that often leaves us feeling overwhelmed and entirely demotivated).
If you’re not sure what your purpose actually is, don’t stress it. A lot of people experience ‘purpose anxiety’ in their search for meaning, but that’s not the goal here. Take the pressure off yourself entirely — right now this second — because the journey should be a fun one; one that improves your wellbeing, not makes it worse.
And anyway, a sense of purpose is something you can create — totally tailor-made, just for you. So if you don’t have purpose right now, what an exciting journey you’re about to go on!
Getting started on your journey of discovery
A lot of people find purpose in their families; being a parent, for example, can add a great deal of meaning to your life. But it’s healthy to have passions that extend beyond your familial role.
As The Wellness Writer, I find an enormous sense of purpose in helping people to talk openly about mental health. Smashing the stigma matters to me a great deal, and I’m really lucky that I was able to combine that with my other passion: writing. Now I help businesses to write about mental health in a way people can connect with — and it absolutely fuels me. But it wasn’t always that way.
When I became a mum, I suffered very badly with postnatal depression; the huge changes in my life left me feeling like I’d lost my identity, and I didn’t really know who I was anymore. When I spoke to a fellow copywriter one day, who encouraged me to write down the things I was passionate about (mental health, wellbeing, helping others, writing) The Wellness Writer was born, and my sense of purpose became absolute.
Not everyone is lucky enough to find their career and their passion in perfect harmony, but that doesn’t mean you can’t discover your purpose elsewhere. For a lot of people, meaning is found in a greater purpose — like religion, spirituality, or charity work. But equally, meaning can be found in:
- Following a sports team
- Setting up a book club
- Learning something new (like an instrument, or a language)
- Helping others
- Discovering a new hobby
- Changing your lifestyle
If you’re struggling to pinpoint your purpose, think about what matters most to you in the world. It might be connected to your career, your family, or your feelings; there is no right or wrong. Equally, your purpose might be about how you make others feel; some people find meaning in spreading happiness and positivity like wildfire — and what a wonderful purpose that is.
Does having a purpose actually matter that much?
You can bet your bottom dollar it does! You know that we’re in the business of boosting your form at any given opportunity, and discovering a sense purpose is actually really important for your mental wellbeing. In fact, a strong sense of purpose can really help to:
- Lower stress levels
- Improve coping skills
- Guide our behaviours
- Improve mental health
- Give us a sense of direction
- Encourage us to reach our goals
- Increase satisfaction with our lives
- Reduce the chance of premature death
- Improve brain function, cognition and memory
- Increase the likelihood of taking part in healthy activities
In this crazy old game called life, we need to feel significant. Part of something. That we’re here for a reason, and that our lives make (even just a little bit of) sense. And finding a sense of purpose really does help with all those things, and more.
So, what’s your purpose?