Do you have a sense of purpose?

Do you have a sense of purpose? Do you wake up in the morning and feel that you’re doing what you’re ‘meant’ to be doing? That might mean in your job or career, or for some people purpose is less about work and more about family and friends. For others it might be a more spiritual purpose, a way of being or an expression, and for many it’s a combination of all these aspects of life.

Purpose is unique for everyone; what you identify as yours will be different from other people’s. What’s moreyour purpose will likely evolve throughout your life in response to the changing priorities and fluctuations of your own experiences.

For some of us, our purpose is obvious and clear. Some people always knew they wanted to be an artist/nurse/scientist/parent/chef. However, most people are still working it out, and it’s always going to be work in progress. Purpose isn’t always obvious. We may discover our true calling over time by trial and error or a happy accident. For the majority of people, in the fast pace and pressures of everyday life, it’s difficult to really stop and think about what our purpose is.

‘Finding your purpose’ is more than just a cliché, an existential crisis or a Hollywood plot line. For decades, psychologists have studied how humans desire and develop a sense of purpose over their lifetimes. Our sense of purpose appears to have evolved so that humans can accomplish big things together. It helps both individuals and the species to survive.

Our sense of purpose can be our connection to something bigger, something that will allow us to truly make a difference. It can be a tool for building confidence, making decisions, shaping goals and offering a sense of direction. There’s also research that shows having a sense of purpose can help us create meaning, which can lead to a happier life.

We exist on this earth for some undetermined period of time. During that time we do things. Some of these things are important. Some of them are not.  The important things give our lives meaning and happiness. So, when we’re looking for purpose, what we’re really asking is,What can I do with my time that’s important?’

If you’re reading this and are having affirming thoughts like ‘Oh yes, I know why I’m here and where I want to spend my time and energy’, then fabulous. Read no further. However if you’re feeling like you’re being swept along by life and you’d like to be driving rather than a passenger, then here’s three tips to help you begin to uncover your purpose.

Why do you want to find your purpose?

It isn’t necessarily easy, and like anything that might involve change and take some time and effort, it can help to be clear on why it’s important to you. Otherwise it’s easy to stop at the first hurdle, run out of energy and revert back to your current ways of being.

Write down why it’s important to you that you find your purpose. For example, is it that you want more from your life and career, to be happier, healthier, wake up in the morning excited for what you’re going to do that day?

What are you good at?

A good place to start in helping you to uncover your purpose is to ask yourself some questions around your strengths, your achievements and what really makes you, you. Ask yourself the following questions as honestly as you can:

  • What sets me apart?
  • What skills do I have?
  • What am I doing well?
  • What do I enjoy?

Once you’ve done this, review what you have written. What answers do you get? What passion or purpose are you leaning towards?

Ask others

Saying what we’re good at can be difficult. It can help to get some objectivity by asking others for their opinions. A quick and powerful exercise is to ask five people for five words that they immediately think of when they think of you. It can feel scary, and I guarantee the exercise will reveal some helpful insights and indicators about what you’re good at.

‘You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream, you’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.’  Diana Ross

There’s three quick tips to get you started. Finding your purpose isn’t a tick box exercise; it’s an ongoing journey. Keep stopping to pause and reflect. Your thoughts will likely evolve and change. What’s important is your own awareness and focus on what you’re interested in and what makes you happy.

finding your purpose If you’d like to learn more join me and Judith Sabah, motivationalist and breakthrough coach on Thursday 24 June at 12.30 for a free webinar to understand:

  • How connecting with your purpose can change your life
  • Why finding your purpose is a journey, not a tick box exercise
  • Practical tips to discover your purpose.

Here’s your link to sign up. Don’t hang about though as places are limited.


Carrots and sticks are so last century

Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us, by Daniel H Pink was the first book to be reviewed by the Lucidity Network Book Club. Overall the group enjoyed the book and whilst some of the concepts may be easily recognised, it was acknowledged that implementing all of them into a work environment may not necessarily be that straightforward. It was agreed that the use of examples and provision of toolkits for various scenarios at the end of the book provides a useful resource to draw on in the future.

What motivates us

Using science and research, Pink presents a very clear argument as to why current business/working systems are outdated. Pink states “Carrots and sticks are so last century. Drive says for 21 st Century work, we need to focus on what really motivates us and upgrade to autonomy, mastery and purpose”, before going on to explain that, when it comes to motivation there is a gap between what science knows and what business does. The current operating system, built around external reward and punishment motivators, doesn’t work. The book provides examples of the types of work that can be motivated by carrots and sticks and those that can’t, highlighting that a ROWE (results only work environment) is needed. The challenge is how to implement this concept in diverse work environments. Fundamentally what motivates us is about trust and management shifting their attitudes to trusting their staff, this aspect resonated strongly within the group discussion.

The main points the book makes is that:

1. Times have changed but companies are slow to adapt to that change.

To illustrate Pink posed a question: in 1995 which encyclopedia would people have expected to survive, MS Encarta or Wikipedia? Few people would have imagined a Wikipedia world back then.

2. We have moved from a Motivation 2.0 world (carrots and sticks) to a Motivation 3.0 world (inherent satisfaction in the work itself).

Explaining that for routine tasks incentives may still work, but for more creative tasks these can have a limiting or event sometimes damaging effect, causing people to stop an activity previously enjoyed, or encouraging some to take shortcuts. Examples included research with primary school children, those that would choose to stay in the classroom and make drawings in their play break, when offered a payment stopped doing so.

3. There are 3 elements to Motivation 3.0 – Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose

  • Autonomy is our default setting, people need autonomy over task, time, team and technique to be high performing. Companies that offer autonomy, sometimes in radical ways, outperform their competitors. One well-known company that ‘gets’ autonomy is Google. Creation of 20% time, where people are free to work on projects of their choice, has enabled products such as Gmail to be created. The book talked about reward not just being about money, which raised concern in our discussion that it could be used as an excuse not to pay enough. However, Pink clearly states that salaries must be at a reasonable level for everything else to flow from, i.e. removing salary from the motivation conversation enables the important aspects of Motivation 3.0 to be explored. We also discussed the need for tools, having autonomy over how, where and when you work is limited if you don’t have the appropriate tools or support to carry out the task at hand.


  • Mastery is an interesting concept. According to Pink it is i) a Mindset – requiring you to see your abilities not as finite, ii) a Pain – it requires effort and grit and iii) it is Asymptote – it is impossible to fully realise. Pink’s example of learning French helps to illuminate this idea. Learning French to pass a test is not the same as learning to speak French fluently. Both can fuel achievement but only one achieves mastery. Mastery happens when people are in the ‘flow’ which is the optimal experience when the challenges we face are matched to our abilities, however Pink cautions that “the path to mastery is not lined with flowers or rainbows….if it were more of us would make the trip”.


  • Purpose is no surprise, it is something that all humans seek, ‘a cause greater and more enduring than themselves’. Through the use of language and policies, Motivation 3.0 allows purpose maximisation to take its place alongside profit maximisation.

Our conversation ended with us looking at aspects of the book that we could apply to our own areas of what motivates us in our work. Use of the toolkits to analyse where ‘flow’ happens for each of us, or possibilities to explore what autonomy and mastery means to our teams were starting points. Finally, we asked what our personal motivations are and common themes emerged around working with great people and improving peoples living and working circumstances. No carrots or sticks required!

Guest blog by Sam Mills is Head Of Projects at Changeworks and Lucidity Network member.

Interested in joining our book club? Take a look at the Lucidity Network – a place for people pushing to make change happen, a place to learn, a place to share and a place to connect. Check it out and join us here.