Do you wake up every morning ready to take on the day ahead? Is your standard answer, ‘great!’ when a friend or family member asks how your day at work was? If so, it’s likely you’ve found your work purpose. If not, read on…
A lack of purpose at work can leave you feeling flat, unappreciated and unmotivated; on the other-hand, having a sense of meaning in your job can add a new level of satisfaction and fulfilment to your life.
What is work purpose?
It’s easy to assume that a job with meaning must involve working for a not-for-profit organisation or inventing a cure for cancer. However, your work ‘purpose’ doesn’t have to relate to any particular sector or specialism, it’s the thing that drives you to get up in the morning, often aligned with the feeling of being connected to something bigger than yourself.
Whether you work in accounts payable or for a large corporate, having a sense of purpose means that you see the success of your individual work tasks as being linked to the success of your team or your organisation as a whole. In essence, people who find their work purpose know that their work ‘matters’ and has an impact on other people, not just profit. Having a satisfying job, can contribute to a more fulfilling life.
Why is it important to find your work purpose?
Your work purpose is a central part of who you are – and who you want to be. Having a sense of purpose and job satisfaction often leads to better performance, longevity in a role and a general feeling of happiness.
By understanding your own particular drivers, you can seek out work-place cultures that match with your value system. In fact, understanding your drivers can help to guide you in the right direction in all areas of your career.
Finance leaders are increasingly seeing the benefits of purpose in creating good corporate cultures and improving staff retention. In his New York Times bestseller, ‘Emotional Intelligence’, Daniel Goleman writes that a well-defined work purpose can have a profound effect on people’s ability to work effectively: “Ability is not a fixed property; there is a huge variability in how you perform. People who have a sense of self-efficacy bounce back from failures; they approach things in terms of how to handle them rather than worrying about what can go wrong.”
Following a pathway to purpose
Finding your work purpose takes practice, self-awareness and regular revaluation.
CEO of Imperative, Aaron Hurst, believes that in order to find your work purpose you must live life ‘awake’ and open new experiences. In his book ‘The Purpose Economy’ Hurst writes: “If you don’t have basic self-awareness of purpose, it is difficult to know how to productively create supporting narratives and recognise the opportunities to practice purpose. You need to know the WHO, HOW, and WHY of purpose in practice for you.”
To find your work purpose, start by reflecting on on activities, people and achievements that make you feel good. Consider what works best in your current role:
- When are you at your happiest at work?
- When have you felt most useful at work?
- When have you been most appreciated?
- When have you been most proud?
Your answers will highlight the ways you most enjoy contributing to your organisation. From here you can start to define your values.
Also consider factors (within your control) that have a negative impact on your work day:
- What aspects do you least like about your current role?
- When have you felt most frustrated at work?
‘Unlearning’ past mindsets may also be helpful when trying to become self-aware and purpose-driven.
Approach your work with greater purpose
Once you have defined your values and purpose, consider the work-related tasks that align with them. Take a couple of minutes each day to appreciate the small events that have contributed to a purposeful job. Creating this habit will help you to appreciate everyday moments that give meaning to your role.
You may wish to find ways to refine your job role to maximise the number of these purposeful moments you experience. If people and relationships are important to you, try face-to-face meetings and phone calls, rather than emailing all the time.
Keep in mind that your priorities may change to match your life and career stage. It’s important to re-evaluate from time-to-time, especially if you find yourself losing your sense of purpose in a role.
At Moir Group we understand that job satisfaction plays an important part in overall wellbeing and happiness. Our consultants go beyond the technical specifications to consider cultural fit, opportunities for growth and the possibility of genuine job satisfaction.
If you’re looking to take that next step in your career, we can help. Get in touch with us here.