To quote the great philosopher, Carl Jung:“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
Indeed, it’s far easier to be told how to live than to decide how to live. However, your purpose is something you need to decide on your own.
And hence, Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky has said, “The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”Indeed, without vision and purpose, people perish. It is the struggle — the search and drive for something more that gives life meaning. Without a future to strive for, people rot away quick.
Thus, the purpose of life is not to be happy, but instead, to see how far one can go. It’s to be innately curious and to explore your own personal limits.
How do I know? Just look around you; everything on this planet is either growing or dying. So, why think you’re any different?Interestingly, Dr. Gordon Livingston has actually said that humans need three things to be happy:
- Something to do
- Someone to love
- Something to look forward to
Similarly, Viktor E. Frankl has said,“Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
Hence, happiness is not a cause but an effect. It’s the effect of living in alignment. It’s what happens when you’re living your daily life with purpose and priority.
This article is intended to help you arrive at that point.Here we go.
You Need Something to Do
For example, most people mistakenly believe that passion is something they ought to actively seek out. That unless they’re intrinsically compelled by their work, then they can’t love what they do.
However, it’s not what you do that’s important. Instead, it’s what you do for others. As Newport explains,“If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (‘what can the world offer me?’) and instead, adopt the craftsman mindset (‘what can I offer the world?’).”
Indeed, rather than selfishly seeking a life you’re passionate about, you should be thinking about developing skills, products, and abilities that benefit the lives of others.When you go beyond yourself, your skills and abilities are not just an individual sum of parts, instead, they become a part of a greater whole, and it is this that gives life meaning.
When begin to see your work have an effect on the lives of others, your confidence grows. As your confidence grows, you begin to deeply enjoy what you’re doing — you become more engaged with it, and eventually, you start to see your work as a “calling” or “mission.”And hence why so many people who work in professions that have such a profound effect on other people’s lives, like doctors, psychiatrists, or teachers, for example, love what they do.Also, why Cal Newport has said, “What you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.”
Or put more simply: Your passion is not something you need to “find” or “follow,” instead, your passion follows you. It’s a result of your mindset and behavior. Not the other way around.In order to live this reality, however, you must realize that your life is about so much more than just yourself.
It’s about giving back. It’s about pouring your all into it. It’s about finding something to love.Which actually leads to the next point:
You Need Someone to Love
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
However, a little less talked about is the fact that love is not a noun but a verb. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.
And sadly, this happens all too often. We take our relationships for granted. We allow the busyness of life to take over and stop investing in the relationship.
However, if you truly love someone, you’ll show it. You’ll stop being self-centered and be who you need to be for that personThis isn’t necessarily just romantic relationships, but all relationships. Love transforms not just the receiver, but also the giver. So, why wouldn’t you?
Although no matter how powerful of a force love is, just having someone to love isn’t enough. You still have to live out your own dreams and desires.
As Grant Cardone has said:“Remember that one single human being cannot make you happy enough to fulfill the dreams and goals you had before you met them.”
Which takes us to the next point:
You Need Something to Look Forward to
The research is clear: as people, we are happiest in anticipation of an event, rather than living the actual event itself.
Hence, you need a vision. You need something to look forward to. You need a goal in which are you exerting conscious and daily effort.
Keep in mind that it is the vision, not the goal that brings meaning. Hence, once you hit one, you need another. These are something you should never stop doing.
As Dan Sullivan has said,“We remain young to the degree that our ambitions are greater than our memories.”
However, not get too far ahead, what is your vision now? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? Who do you want to do it with?What does your ideal day look like?
It’s powerful to not to think of these in terms of where you are now, but instead, where you want to be. See, many people become limited by the goals they can see in their history.
However, you shouldn’t let your current circumstances stop you from creating something far more powerful.
As Hal Elrod said, “Whatever future may seem like a fantasy to you now is simply a future reality that you have yet to create.”Indeed, you are both the designer and the creator of your life experience. Each must be bold and powerful.So, where do you intend to go?
The purpose of life is not happiness, but growth.
Happiness comes after you’ve invested in something bigger and greater than yourself.
Hence, rather than seeking passion, what you want is to be of value. You want the satisfaction of contributing something to the world. To feel that your time on this globe actually had meaning.
Of course, all of this human experience is not objective but subjective. You are the one that ascribes meaning to the world.
As Stephen Covey has said, “You see the world, not as it is, but as you’ve been conditioned to see it.”
Hence, only you can decide if you’re living up to “purpose” or “potential.”
Moreover, love is what takes you beyond yourself. It transforms both the giver and the receiver. So, why wouldn’t you?
Finally, you need something to look forward to. Without a future to strive for, people rot away quick. So, where is your vision taking you?
By Rebecca Muller, Thrive Global
Everyone has an evolving career story: the narrative we tell ourselves, and the people around us, about where we stand on our professional paths, and how we got there. But when you’ve been at your job for a long time, it’s easy to get comfortable in your current narrative — and over time, that comfort can spiral into a routine that feels repetitive and un-motivating.
Getting stuck in one chapter of your story can be stressful, and if you sense that you’re ready for something new, it may be time to “re-story” — a term that psychologists now use to refer to making a pivot when you’ve exhausted your current narrative. Starting that rewrite can be a daunting step. “Making a big career change can be scary,” Alan Benson, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, tells Thrive.
Making a change depends on your individual story, but if you become too complacent, you miss out on the benefits that can come from beginning a new chapter. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Your story: You’ve been at the same job for many years, and you’re ready for something new.
How to re-story: Allow yourself to accept change.
With the rise of online networking, remote work, and side hustles, the workforce looks vastly different than it once did — and when it comes to starting over, that can be a great thing. “Fifty years ago, it was common to graduate from school, land a job at a big company, and work there your entire career,” Benson notes. “Today, the Census Bureau estimates that people have ten jobs by the time they’re forty.” Shifting from job to job has become normal, he explains, so it’s important to let go of preconceived notions you may have about a traditional career path. There’s no shame in changing jobs, especially if it might ease your stress and help you feel sustained meaning in your work.
Your story: You want to pivot to a new field, but it’s not what you went to school for.
How to re-story: Use the evergreen skills you learned to propel you forward.
You may not be an expert in the industry you’re interested in, but Benson notes that your existing knowledge and your toolkit of career experience may well be enough to take the leap. Having a diversified background might actually give you a leg up a new job, he points out. And even if you do ultimately need more education to make the switch, it’s worth confirming that first, rather than letting it hold you back from trying at all.
Your story: You’ve hit your goal, and now you’re struggling to stay motivated.
How to re-story: Take on microsteps to help you make small changes in your workflow.
Sometimes, achieving a goal we’ve worked hard to get to can end up making us lose motivation, because we let go of the positive changes we initially made to reach that goal in the first place. In fact, research tells us that if we see our goals as a destination we’ve already arrived at, we’re unlikely to stay motivated to keep going afterward. If you’ve reached your goal, consider taking on small microsteps to help you make lasting changes. Thinking of your goal attainment as a journey instead of a destination can help you stay motivated long after you hit your target.
Your story: You’re feeling fatigued by your job, but you have no clue what your next step would look like.
How to re-story: Reach out to your support system.
You know you’re itching for a new job, but you’re scared and hesitant about what that new opportunity looks like. When you’re struggling to take that next step, Benson suggests reaching out to a trusted mentor or a loved one for a supportive hand. Whether you’re looking for concrete advice about your next move, or you just need a listening ear, talking through your vision can help with your decision-making, and allow you to gain a clearer sense of direction.
By Emily Rose Barr
I recently read Parker Palmer’s book, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, a beautiful meditation on trusting our experience to guide the way to our true calling.
Rather than telling your life what you intend to do with it, Palmer suggests, you must “listen for what it intends to do with you.” Reflecting on his own encounters with self-doubt, deep depression, jubilant triumphs, and unrelenting inner inquiry, he paints a portrait of a personal journey that is far from easy but repeatedly rewarding.
Vocation is defined as, “a type of work that you feel you are suited to doing and to which you give much of your time and energy.” For many, this eschews our understanding of a true calling: something that we not only feel suited to do, but something that is worthy of our talents, values, and a greater sense of purpose.
While these two terms are often used interchangeably, one’s vocation may or may not be aligned with one’s calling. In fact, it’s not uncommon to arrive at a vocation only to realize after years of selfless devotion that we’re not on the path we desire: we discover that the work we’re doing is no longer fulfilling and depletes us of our energy rather than rejuvenates our spirit. Moreover, we frequently associate vocation with a competitive salary, robust benefits, and well-earned promotions, yet the definition makes no mention of these monetary domains.
So how do we reconcile our need for financial independence, or at the very least stability, with our desire to nurture our true calling?
Somewhere along our life’s journey, we were likely told to go after our passions with all our heart; that if we do what we love, we’ll never work a day in our lives; that by simply applying ourselves, we’ll go far. So we studied hard, worked odd jobs to make ends meet, got advanced degrees, and maxed out our résumés.
During this time, our passions might have shifted, or our dreams might have been deferred. We might have told ourselves that doing what we love would come after we’d proven ourselves, worked our way up the corporate ladder, achieved a certain net worth.
It’s so easy for our vision of vocation to become muddled by societal expectations and the harsh demands we place on ourselves. Suddenly, doing what we love each day is no longer enough. We must also make a name for ourselves, rise above the competition, gain an improbably high following, have the latest and greatest technology, and meet ever-increasing productivity standards until we no longer remember why we were called here in the first place.
Our vocation needn’t also be the greatest source of stress in our lives. If it is, it’s likely not our true calling. Work is undeniably stressful. It’s exhausting, time-consuming, frustrating, demanding, and at times, disappointing. But it should also be a means of frequent joy, hope, welcome challenge, vitality, self-growth, and uncompromising abundance.
If you’re fortunate to make your livelihood by answering to your calling each day, I am continually inspired by your dedication to your craft and your courage to meet the challenges that were inevitably a part of your path.
If you feel like your life’s work is at a crossroads with your values, your passions, your deepest motivations, and your undeniable gifts, I admire you also: for your bravery in recognizing that you are worthy of more and your commitment to devote yourself to work that is not always easy, sustainable, or enjoyable.
I encourage you to keep exploring how you can tap into your higher self through your work, be it a full-time job, a part-time job, a weekend gig, or a yet unborn idea. We are told frequently and loudly that our jobs are not the be-all and end-all; that as long as we have a roof over our heads and food on our table, we should be happy. While these are certainly blessings for which we should be grateful, clinging too tightly to this persistent narrative can put us on the fast-track to selling ourselves short.
Wherever you are in your vocational pursuits — just entering the workforce, considering a career change, returning to full-time work after a sabbatical, preparing for retirement, balancing three part-time jobs, transitioning to a new role, celebrating a recent promotion — the following is offered as a guide to help you navigate the often-complex, always worthwhile course of discovering or rediscovering your authentic livelihood.
Know who you are.
Understanding the type of work to which we’re not only drawn but that aligns with the mark we want to leave on the world can only be achieved by intimately understanding ourselves..
Knowing who we are (and who we’re not) is critical to knowing what we want to do and how we want to do it. We also have to be prepared to come to terms with some things we may not like about ourselves. The journey into self is incomplete if we fail to take inventory of both our light and dark sides.
Drown out the noise.
There’s a lot of superfluous noise that infiltrates our perceptions of success. The more you try to squeeze yourself into a vocation that amplifies the voice of society and ignores your own, the more you’ll struggle to find balance, engagement, and fulfillment.
Get creative, don’t compromise.
Perhaps your dream of running a wildlife sanctuary isn’t feasible, or your freelance photography gig won’t pay the bills. This doesn’t mean that you should dismiss these pursuits. Life has a funny way of bringing us back to our calling despite our attempts to ignore it.
No one said that identifying what makes your heart sing was easy and seeing it through can be even harder. But we’re often presented with opportunities to incorporate our passions in other ways, ones that may not appear how we desire on the surface. Be open to letting your interests take on a different shape than you originally intended, at least temporarily. You might be surprised at what you discover.
Pay attention. How many times have you heard someone talk about there being “signs” along their vocational path?
These messages may seem small, but they have a monumental point to get across. When you experience them, listen to them; hear them out; talk about them with someone who knows you well and ask for their insights. These signs aren’t random but filled with purpose and potential. Don’t wait to act on them.
Learn to trust yourself like you do your closest confidante. Know that you have your best interests at heart and that you will make every attempt to see your dreams come to fruition. If it feels scary, keep going. If you’re uncertain, dig deeper. If you want to give up, give it one more day.
You are wholly, unapologetically worth every ounce of your effort. There are countless people who will benefit from your bringing your true vocation to life. Don’t abandon that gift.
Nov 20, 2017: Weekly Curated Thought-Sharing on Digital Disruption, Applied Neuroscience and Other Interesting Related Matters.
By Kevin Cashman
Curated by Helena M. Herrero Lamuedra
Every leader faces a daunting aspiration: Generate success now and then continuously accelerate it. It is hard enough to be successful and even more challenging to keep it going in today’s dynamic, change-rich world. As tough as our mandate is, I would suggest a sustainable simple success formula: purpose generates success, performance sustains it and ethics insures the first two endure.
Purpose is the creative force that elevates leaders and teams to move from short-term success to long-term significance. It engages and energizes workforces, customers, vendors, distributors, communities and stakeholders around a common mission, something bigger than products and larger than profit. It is the foundational meaning that unleashes latent energy and motivation as it generates enduring value. Purpose answers the essential question: Why is it so important that we exist? Ethics answers the enduring question: How are we in continuous service to our constituencies?
As leaders, we have a responsibility to address this significant question, “Why is it so important that we exist?” With this question, we courageously face who we are and how we are in the world. As we reflect on it and the battle that rages for the soul of capitalism, we also may want to consider: How do we view capitalism and the role of business? Will we define business solely in terms of transactional financial levers, designed to accumulate capital, or will we apply our vision to shape business as a more universal lever that serves a higher, more sustainable purpose? Will the top 2% serve the 98%, or will the top 2% dominate, control and be served by the 98%?
Unilever takes the universal levers of purpose and ethics and tries to serve the 100%. Their core values are much more than aspirational concepts. Their purpose statement is more than a slogan. Yes, they struggle to live it at times, but the constant struggle to serve is a worthy value-creating goal. As purpose-driven leaders remind themselves over and over again: purpose and ethics are not perfection, but the pursuit of service-fueled value.
Dedicating themselves to the core values of “integrity, responsibility, respect and pioneering,” Unilever’s core purpose keeps them focused on succeeding “with the highest standards of corporate behavior towards everyone we work with, the communities we touch, and the environment on which we have an impact.” There is no company-centric charge to be “#1 based on financial metrics” or “winning is all that matters” in their purpose statement. Their considerable success is driven by an ethical conviction to serve.
Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, expressed his genuine belief and conviction in purpose-driven leadership and the power of service a Huffington Post article, “Doing Well by Doing Good”: “The power of purpose, passion, and positive attitude drive great long-term business results. Above all, the moment you realize that it’s not about yourself but about working for the common good, or helping others, that’s when you unlock the true leader in yourself.” When purpose becomes personal, it becomes real, powerful and ethical.
Recently, Unilever recruited Marijn Dekkers, another purpose-driven leader, to be Chairman of its board. Like Polman has done through his leadership, Marijn created significant enduring value during his tenure as CEO of Bayer. His leadership brought vitality and relevance to Bayer’s purpose; to their culture, their leadership growth, and to their market value. Commenting on this purpose-driven value creation, Marijn shared with me recently, “It is relatively easy to pull financial levers to generate short-term profit. Many people can do that. What is challenging, and the real skill of leadership, is to inspire sustainable growth by relentlessly serving employees, customers, vendors, communities, and the planet. When purpose becomes the generator of profit, then long-term success, service and sustainability have a chance to be realized.”
Expanding on the value-generating power of ethics and purpose, Marijn shared five levers for sustainable leadership success:
• EBITDA Never Inspires: “After a few years, no one remembers the number, but everyone remembers the contributions the products and services have made to the lives of people. Spreadsheets rarely inspire; stories of service move us in a memorable manner.”
• Take the Extra Steps: “Do the right thing before you are forced to do so. Purpose is real, and ethics is operating, when companies go beyond what they need to do for employees, vendors, customers and communities. Even 2% more effort on purpose creates multiple returns for everyone involved. It takes so little but returns so much. Being a good citizen on the things we do not make money on, can actually create more lasting value in the long run.”
• Build Authentic Reputation: “Reputations are not merely a public relations exercise. Reputations are built through ensuring that we are customer and enterprise-serving and not self-serving. Corporations are too often seen as self-serving, so attending to real-service is the counter-balance to negative reputations. The equity of our brand is built through living our purpose in very tangible ways.”
• Do the Right Thing When No One is Looking: Marijn shared a recent story of cycling along a river and wanting to dispose of his stale chewing gum. He realized that there were at least three options: 1) Throw it on the grass and mindlessly riding on; 2) Wait for a trash bin to come along and throw it at the bin but very likely someone would need to clean up the mess later; 3) Stop to find a leaf, roll up the gum in the leaf and dispose of the gum properly. “It took a small sacrifice to find the leaf and carefully dispose of it. But it was clearly the right thing to do.” Real ethics show up in both small and big acts of service.
• Remember Others: “Ethics is remembering others. Lack of ethics and purpose is placing self over service. As a CEO this is tough, since there are so many “others” to consider. But making the attempt to serve as many “others” as possible is the ethically fueled purpose of leadership.”
Purposeful, ethical leadership is a conscious act of self-examination to insure that our behaviors are really serving people – especially when no one is watching.
What steps can you take today to inspire purpose and remember ethics?