How Can Passion, Purpose, and Perseverance Help You to be Happy at Work?

Several people have contacted me in the last month because they are concerned that they can’t find their life purpose. Their dilemma reminded me of these lines from the Broadway show Avenue Q with lyrics and music by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx :

“I don’t know how I know,
But I’m gonna find
My purpose.
Gotta find out,
Don’t want to wait!
Got to make sure that my
Life will be great!”

Will knowing your purpose though automatically make your life great?  I don’t think so.  After all work is only a piece of your life.  Still it is worth pursuing because it is a large piece of your life. Knowing your purpose will give you a way to become really engaged in your work. By finding your purpose you will have taken a big step toward being happy at work.

But finding your purpose can be painful too.  You have to be willing to try new things and fail at them.  Yes, there are people who just seem to know their purpose and go for it but even they fail sometimes.  What makes them unique is that continue even after they fail.  They pick themselves up and try again and again until they find their way.  Most of us, myself included, give up when they fail.  What makes them continue?  Passion for finding their purpose and maybe even a flash or spark of a vision of their future.

As a child I was a champion at starting lessons and then not continuing because I wasn’t good enough.  Skating, dancing, piano, you name it I spent a little time on it.  I saw others succeed and decided they had more talent than I did.  How often have you said as I did then, “I’ll never be good at this.”?

That kind of mindset is what Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, calls a fixed mindset.  Change the statement to “If I practice I can be good at this.” and you have a growth mindset.  Committing to get good at it means working at it and even failing until you figure out how to be good at it.

Finding your purpose means finding something that you are willing to continually fail at until you are happy with the result.  Even then you need to continue to practice to get even better and to add your own creativeness to it.  It takes perseverance.  Most of us are not willing to put the work into what is necessary to do that.

The place to start if you want to find your purpose is with yourself.  What is most important to you?  It stands to reason that if it is important to you (what you value) then you will be willing to put the time and effort into making it happen.  So what are your values?

If you subscribed to my newsletter you got a values sort called TruValues program when you first subscribed.  By doing parts 1 and 2 you can find your 4 top values.  If you want to focus on work values then think about what is most important to you in your work, job and/or career.  I have another values sort tool that I would be happy to send you if you would like it.  Just email me at asparker@asparker.com to request it.

So now you know the first step in finding your purpose.  Your values are one clue.  Finding your purpose is an ongoing process.  Some of the clues come from the life you have already lived.  You will need to make sense of what your life has been trying to teach you.

Where do you have the passion to continue no matter what?  Putting the clues (values + life lessons) together will give you some ideas about your purpose that you’ll want to test out and then refine.  Expect detours and failures along the way but sooner or later you will find the spark that excites your passion and sets you on a course to find your calling.

It’s not a linear process.  In other words, you can’t expect to do steps 1 through 5 and have your answer.  As Victor Frankl says in his book Man’s Search for Meaning “We detect rather than invent our mission in life.” You’ll need to take the clues and use your intuition to uncover your purpose.  Finding your purpose takes time and work. Do you have the courage to begin the journey?

If you answer yes to that question and you would like a guide for the journey, I’d be delighted to help you.  Just give me a call at 781-598-0388 or email me at asparker@asparker.com to set up an initial complimentary conversation

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