The concept of finding purpose is most often what businesses and people neglect to clarify within themselves before committing to something or starting something new. Purpose means “why you really (want to) do something,” while it is often (mostly) confused with the goal.
Of course, they are two different things. Finding purpose is not simple; adopting someone else’s purpose does not work. In the long run, it will work against you. Your very being will react and externalize itself in all possible and improbable ways.
Finding and defining your purpose is that paragraph in business plans that you read as “vision” and skim through without paying much attention or typing something that sounds grandiose but usually doesn’t represent you.
When you don’t know why you want to do something, any obstacle can derail you. But it is one of the essential points when you start or participate in something. It connects to your core values and what you want from your life.
You will subconsciously sabotage your actions when you don’t want to do something but try to force yourself to do it. The opposite happens when you know what you want to do and why.
It is enough to think even now about the following simple thing: How many things did you end up not doing when you said you would do them because inside, you didn’t want to do them? How many things seemed easy to you when you felt good about doing them before you did them? How many laborious things have you done without grumbling because it was simply clear and acceptable to you why you were doing them?
It is a given that this “why am I doing this” will lead you to think and decide who you are. That is, the question is already existential in addition to being practical. You might want to avoid it, but that’s exactly where it’ll get you. So why not find out from the start?
A true story about finding purpose
Mark (name changed) asked us to help him – initially – figure out why he was having problems marketing his business. He ran a family business that opened a branch in another country two years ago. While everything was “going well” initially, the company began to go downhill.
The product remained terrific; he was proud of the team he had and how efficient they were. Those customers who had said the best about the company and its products.
He didn’t have a financial issue yet, but he saw that the year would close with balanced income expenses instead of closing with profits. He didn’t like it and said that if he continued like this, he would close with a loss next year.
He said he had thought about doing more intense marketing actions, so our conversation had this starting point. Not to be outdone, the issue to be resolved emerged from the discussion, which had nothing to do with what kind of marketing should be done.
Analyzing his business and operational conditions, we saw that the issue was with Mark and what he wanted. Managing the family business was not what he wanted. He cared about the family business and wanted to help, but it wasn’t what he had considered for a few years as his life’s purpose.
He started the branch in another country already, thinking he did not want to do it in the future. What he wanted to do was completely different. He always wanted the “other” he considered essential and spoke passionately about it.
In the context of this difference and with the considerable internal conflict as to what he really wants and what he is doing now, he did not do any marketing actions at all. At the same time, outwardly, he presented a series of reasons that did not fit with any business logic.
He didn’t want to promote his current business because he didn’t want to continue to be associated with the existing business. He had abandoned the object of this family business years ago, and everything he did was “by force” and out of a sense of responsibility towards the family business.
By extension, he subconsciously sabotaged the marketing mechanism and, at the same time, felt bad for doing it, but he also did not take any marketing actions. All his decisions passed through this filter, so his actions led to non-action. As if that wasn’t enough, at the same time, he also felt terrible for the person who would be his partner in what he wanted.
After three meetings, going through all his “wants,” we spoke with Mark again after six months, where he had already set the change he wanted in motion.
From this “simple” example (but you might be surprised how common it is), you can see quite a few things that will help you. Here are a few more, although finding purpose isn’t solved with the information that can fit into one article.
Other people’s purpose is not working for you
The real purpose that motivates you and you alone cannot be adopted.
Adopting someone else’s cause is difficult unless you agree 100% with their purpose. If you have an office-related dependency or other relationship, you will do it to the point where you start wanting “something else.”
It applies to work and personal relationships. Everything is a relationship. First, it’s about your relationship with yourself. The harmonization and alignment of thoughts, feelings, and actions towards whatever goal you set after you identify why you want to do anything within yourself. If you force it, you will do it for a while, but eventually, it will “pop.”
Covid-19 redefined purposes and desires
Especially in the post-Covid-19 era, finding purpose has become a key question and inquiry for millions.
Waves of corporate resignations continue unabated, and an extensive review of “why I’m doing this” and “what I want” occurs. You will have read it as “The Great Resignation,” but the resignation is the result, not the cause.
People have discovered through the fear and uncertainty of life that they have to ask themselves what they want and how they want to live, and what their priorities are. Companies are now discussing what incentives they will give to attract workers, which will be a good salary linked to the quality of working and non-working life.
Of course, something like this was expected, but Covid-19 accelerated it. Especially in the last 15 years, there has been a big “turn” towards questioning and research for a more meaningful life.
If you have already been in a profession for some years, you will have seen that money is necessary but not enough to make you try every day and want to try.
There is a difference between trying out of necessity and feeling that you have a deeper purpose beyond survival or a role for social recognition/adjustment.
This is true in business as well as in any form of relationship. Regardless of how it starts, over time, you wonder where you are fitted with who you are and why you do what you do.
It’s one of those topics of conversation among business executives where at some point, they start evaluating what they have and what they want to have, and where they want to go.
It’s no coincidence that executive life coaching is steadily on the rise as a need. There is a demand because there is a severe need. And, of course, you don’t have to be a C-Level executive to have this need. The same thing happens with a startup. The person or group that starts it needs to have a clear purpose and know why they are doing what they are doing. If this is not there, the team will not work towards the common goal, nor will it cooperate to the maximum extent it can do so.
How finding your purpose relates to skill development
Having identified why you want something, you will make sure (even subconsciously) to look to acquire the skills and tools needed.
Even if you set different goals and change them, the background of purpose will work “back there” to create what makes you feel like you are fulfilling that purpose.
That is why it is essential to discover your purpose soon.
In case you don’t know, finding purpose is one of the points many people indirectly look for when asking about the right career or career change. They are not asking about the profession but how to find the job that matches their identity.
What do you want in life and business?
You who want to achieve anything (work, business, relationships, other), apart from a clear goal (which you may change along the way), must know why you are doing what you are doing.
Feel it moving and breathing inside you. Let it be your driving force.
Even if the way you achieve your goal conflicts with socially, politically, or economically acceptable norms, technically and functionally, the principle remains correct. Examples at a business-specific level are few and far between.
The principle is the same and works, regardless of whether you disagree with the method, condemn it, or if it sounds “extreme” to you.
Being clear about why you are doing something and having it align with your values (whatever they may be) aligns your thoughts, feelings about them, and by extension, your actions. It clarifies the landscape. The blurriness in your decisions and actions decreases.
With a clear “why I want/do it,” you see every situation as an opportunity, and in every problem, you look to see where the solution is.
With a clearly defined purpose, you can set clear goals and create the energy to achieve them within yourself.
By knowing the “why” inside and communicating it outside, you will work to bring about the conditions you need to get where you want and weigh your priorities.
You will have fewer internal conflicts, and external ones will not strongly influence you.
Finding the purpose remains the point before making any business plan, but it also helps you stay in the “arena” with a sound mind and concentration.
It’s what you’ll do “anything for,” even when you don’t realize you’re doing it.