Updated on October 21, 2015
What’s the Point? Finding Purpose on the job and off
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to give a talk at my job during one of our staff development days. I am sharing it here in its entirety. I hope it is as meaningful as I attempted for it to be.
I came up w/ the idea for this topic a while back. I had attending of few of these institute day sessions where we would listen to each other gripe about what we didn’t like about our department and what could be done better. We never know if something is going to be done no matter how valid our complaints are.
Also when I watch people as they come closer to their retirement day and they become more and more bitter and vocal about the job that they have done often for more than 20 years. They start cursing at their superiors, cursing their job and can’t seem to be able to wait until it is time to quit. I have always wondered why would a person stay at a job they don’t really like for 10, 20, 30 years?
Every time I hear of someone leaving to go back to school or teach or travel, I ask myself, is that what I should be doing? am I doing the right thing by staying at the same job year after year?
For every question I have in regards to the workplace or life in general, the answer is always what’s the point? If we can answer that question in our life, we can contribute greater to the total picture…of our job, our home, etc.
How many of us can say that we know, as well as our company, what our purpose and mission is so that everything we do in life/work/home/ extra is driven by our purpose, our mission? I believe that we as individuals, can find our purpose and build up ourselves as individuals so that our lives are as successful in every area as our company is as an organization.
But WHAT IS OUR PURPOSE?
For you it could be writing the next bestseller or driving a racecar the fastest. Each of us has a different purpose in life and when we are in tune with it, we are able to have a more meaningful and peaceful existence with each other.
When we don’t know our mission, we are irritable, angry, prone to complaints and feel like victims of life. It doesn’t have to be like that. Have you ever met someone who loved to have drama around them? They always create a whirlwind around them wherever they are. It doesn’t matter if you are with them at work, at home, at church. They have an issue with everyone and a bone to pick with everyone.
The main problem with this type of individual is that they have lost sight of their purpose or indeed, never discovered it at all. Of course, this is an extreme example. There are quiet, seemingly happy people who are also quite desperate for meaning in their lives.
The reason I feel so strongly about having purpose and knowing what it is? You cut out so much of the stress of your workplace and the hectic routine of your homelife. Having purpose can help you deflect and disregard workplace drama. Using myself as an example, when I was younger, working and going to school at the same time, I worked for the home office of a major home furnishing company. I knew that my major was different than my job and that I was making money so that I could pay for my education.
However, I worked for the person everyone considered the worst boss in the company. She was rude, brash, obnoxious and loud. As I recall, she never had an effect on me because I knew that this was not a job that was going to be my career.
Since her office was located on the executive floor, there were many times when the execs would walk by or you would walk by them and they would look right through you as if you didn’t exist. I always thought it was funny because it was clearly that person with the problem, not me.
One day, in the face of some criticism or other, I just realized that I was in a job that did not fall into line with my values and the expected outcome of my life. I decided that it was not worth my time to keep working in such an environment. I quit and went to work somewhere else that was in line with my vision of my life…and I was still able to pay off my educational bills.
Knowing your purpose can help you enjoy your work. Whether you work in housekeeping or in the business office, in recreation or in the kitchen, when our life purpose matches the job we are doing, we are better able to do our jobs and have peace with our co-workers.
Using myself as an example again, when I first started at this company, I worked as a Direct Service Personnel. I had never done that before and I wanted to see what it was like. After a few months, I knew this was not the job for me. I enjoyed the residents.
But if I simply enjoyed the residents, I could always come back and volunteer. I needed a position in which I felt that I could give more in line with the person I am. I began to apply for different positions and was given a position that I love and I feel is perfect for me.
That goes for us all. Just as we learned in our training class, this company is not for everyone. I am not saying that if you are not content with the way things are going, it is time to quit. No, only you know when that time is. I am saying we must search ourselves to see how best we can contribute to the job/position that we have been given. If it is not working for us, then maybe it is time for a change. We must find what is in line with who and what we are and want to be.
Having a purpose flows to all areas of your life/work/ home/ health/ spirit/ relationships. When you are aware of what you are here for and what you need to do, you will take care of yourself so that you can accomplish it. For example, at home, you learn to cut out interests that are time wasters and drain your mental and physical energy. You lose the need to fill your life with meaningless activities, junk food, bad people/ relationships. As your purpose becomes clearer, what you need to do and who you should have around you becomes clearer. You realize that not every person who desires a relationship with you is worth your time. You can say no to what doesn’t fit. You will be able to live a fuller, richer, and freer life.
HAVING PURPOSE HELPS IN EVERY AREA OF YOUR LIFE.
The main question is how to find purpose? So many people ask, yet find it difficult to answer. Why? Because we are so busy, the world around us is so negative and so loud. We have a million distractions at any moment. We have to STOP.
One thing that can help us as we seek to find out purpose is to stop, seek silence and listen. We are so easily distracted because there is so much to see and do every day. We have people to follow on facebook and twitter, we have people who are following us. We must check out the latest song, restaurant, buy the latest fashion and upgrade everything, where we live, our phone, our car, our house. Our culture tells us to go go go, do do do.
I am saying, along with a growing minority of people, it is o.k. to just stop…without a reason, without someone telling you to, without it being bedtime, just stop and take stock of where you are and where you want to be. Take stock of what you are doing now in contrast to what you wanted to do when you were a child. Not necessarily the job you imagined as a child, but what you enjoyed doing. No judgement of yourself, just acknowledgement.
Do the best you can to carve out sometime to be quiet. I prefer to find time early in the morning, because I enjoy the silence of the streets, my apartment, the city. If you feel like you don’t have time because you are busy from the word go, let us look at a few ways we can find a few more minutes to just be silent.
Take a technology fast, a digital Sabbath, as some people call it. You might be amazed at how much time is spent surfing the web, texting, changing status on facebook. If you are interested in finding some quiet time, do without these distractions for a while. Admittedly, it will be a little difficult because smart phone usage can truly be an addiction.
Here is a statistic I read recently: In the digital world, children 6 and under spend two hours a day using screen media, and adults spend more than five hours a day online. That’s two whole days every week without sustained eye contact or conversation. The digital sabbatical gives us time back. It is no longer the blinking red light versus someone’s interest in a real conversation with you. “It is not about turning against technology,” Powers says, “but designing our lives the way we want them.”
In the search for quiet time, we may also be looking for a quiet space. That is when it is good to begin clearing out our homes. Why shouldn’t we live in a place of peace that is welcoming to ourselves and those whom we chose to spend our time with?
Often we don’t realize that there is great emotional baggage that we have with things. In many of my readings, I come across the statement that once a person purges their house of unnecessary items, they feel lighter, their path becomes clearer and they feel as if a load is lifted.
I find the same thing as I continually rid my work place and my home of unnecessary items. I get lighter in my spirit and I recommit to my purpose in life with every bag I take to the thrift store. It is a process. It does not happen overnight.
Once you have that space and time in order to be quiet, you can begin asking the question: What is my purpose? and am I living in accordance with my purpose as I go throughout my day? Am I in line with my purpose as I am at home and on my job? in my relationships? my finances?
Who do you ask? Ask yourself. Ask God. Ask those around you… however, you can choose to take what they say or not. Ask and you will receive the answer.
A quote I read by Marie Kondo said, “Ask what sparks joy. By questioning what sparks joy and eliminating items that don’t make you happy, you can get closer to discovering your passion in life.”
Many of us may discover, we are on track and we are just in need of some tweaking. Some of you may discover that you are far from your desire or that you still have no clue. That is o.k…no judgement, just keep asking. And with that, explore. Get out of your comfort zone. Break out of the routine of just getting up in the morning and going to work, after work doing the same old thing. Break the habit!
Take a creative class, go for a walk, teach someone something, host a dinner party. Explore with things you always thought you would like to do. You will find some things you thought you would like, you don’t. Other things that you didn’t expect, you will like them…indeed it may be your passion.
With that, you can begin to live purposefully. Everything you do, from your morning routine, to clocking in and getting to work will have a renewed purpose. You can sit down with your closest friends and family and have meaningful times together. Your life will change and become less stressful, less hurried and more cherished. Enjoy the journey.