One facet of the Self-Awareness strategy of my Benatti Resiliency Model is purpose. I ask all my clients to articulate their purpose because it provides them a framework for making better career decisions and enhancing their leadership. What is purpose? Webster’s dictionary defines purpose as “the reason for which something exists.” I define it as the contribution you want to make to the world; it is that which gives meaning and direction to your life and career.
Ed Diener’s extensive research on the science of well-being has found that people with a strong sense of purpose are better able to handle the ups and downs of life, making them more resilient. In addition to the emotional benefits, having a strong sense of purpose can also help you:
- Live longer: Dan Buettner has done a great deal of research in this area. A 2009 study of over 73,000 Japanese men and women found that those who had a strong connection to their sense of purpose (which they call ikigai) tended to live longer than those who didn’t. In his study of the “Blue Zones” (communities in the world in which people are more likely to live past 100), Buettner identified the factors that most centenarians share, one of them being a sense of purpose. In 2014, researchers reviewed data that tracked adults over 14 years and found that “having a purpose in life appears to widely buffer against mortality risk across the adult years.”
- Have better relationships: In 2009, Richard Leider teamed up with MetLife to assess purpose in over 1,000 adults. They found that those with a high sense of meaning in their lives spend more time and attention on their families and communities, enjoying more satisfying relationships as a result.
Do you need to go on a retreat or take a sabbatical to determine your purpose? Absolutely not, but it is a process and does take time and reflection. You can begin exploring your purpose today by thinking about these questions:
- You are the author of your own book and you are writing about your life and career. It is the end of 2018 and you are writing a chapter about the past year. What will you share with your readers?
- What contribution did you make to your family, community and in your career this year?
- You have skipped to the last chapter of the book. What are the three most exciting life events you want to share?
- Think of the three that make you most proud. Write this down in a journal.
- Continue to ask yourself weekly, “Am I making choices and decisions so that this last chapter will come true?” If not, what small changes can you make today?
Following your purpose does not have to be overwhelming. Keep it simple and remember—not only will you be happier in your career, you may live longer!
Thanks for joining me today and keep me posted on how this process works for you. I would love to hear about your book chapter for 2018 and how the grand finale of your amazing life looks for you.