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5 starter questions to help uncover your purpose

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

As companies strive to evolve and compete, most of them periodically take a conscious step back to look at who they are and where they’re going. Then, they redefine their purpose and go to work on implementing a refreshed strategy that repositions the business for the future.

Here’s my question. Why don’t we do the same thing for ourselves?

Think about it. Oftentimes, we set ourselves off on a path that doesn’t always flex and change as we do. We struggle to find meaning in what we do, derive little fulfillment, and the age-old question of “what’s the point” pops into our head.

As my journey has taught me, your purpose is within you. And when you understand your purpose, it will drive both happiness and success. But identifying purpose typically requires clearing a little space in your day-to-day life to uncover exactly what it is. With the COVID-19 pandemic as a universal disruptor, there’s no better time to reassess and refocus on your purpose. So, where do you begin? I recommend answering five basic who, what, when, why, and how questions.

1. Who am I?

Before you can truly understand your purpose, you must take time to increase your self-awareness. In part, that means addressing your past so you can create your future. For me, I read self-help books and took on some tough self-awareness programs to emerge with a better sense of who I was and how I could make different choices.

This is when a coach can be a vital tool to help you uncover your truth through a mix of support and guidance. Having someone there to listen, ask additional questions, and prompt you to go a step or two further with your answers can accelerate your self-awareness journey.

As I leaned into seeking feedback from my network and a professional coach, I rediscovered my purpose, which was always with me. And I began to identify and become more involved in the things that enhanced my sense of purpose and made me happy.

2. What energizes me?

Along with self-awareness, it’s important to notice the activities that give you energy and those that deplete you. The things that make you jump out of bed in the morning are closely tied to your purpose.

Once you recognize the activities that energize you and bring you joy, you can make conscious decisions about how you prioritize your time. While your purpose is broader than the job you do, aligning your career with your sense of purpose will naturally play to your strengths, increase satisfaction, and drive personal success.

3. Why do I think this?

All along your journey of self-discovery, it’s helpful and healthy to continue to ask yourself, “why?” By not taking an answer or a decision at face value, you can get to the core of who you are and how you’re showing up for others.

Take the time to articulate your passion, your mission, and your purpose. Choosing the words and putting these statements in writing – just like companies do – provides a valuable tool that can help you make decisions and take action.

For example, my passion – helping people realize their full potential – led me to coaching. My mission is to inspire those who are willing to grow, which I accomplish through my work. And my broader purpose is to live a life in service of others, which is what energizes and inspires me.

4. When should I take action?

The best answer is to take a step now. Don’t wait for everything to come together or the perfect timing. Just start. I began my journey by working with a coach. I dove into learning meditation techniques, and I sought out self-awareness programs. I've read many self-help books, but the game-changer was “The Leader Who Had No Title” by Robin Sharma.

Engaging a coach can help you focus and accelerate your progress. Explore your options. Many companies offer coaching resources to their employees. Make the most of those benefits if they’re available to you. But, if they’re not, don’t let that stop you. Take ownership and invest in yourself by seeking out a coach on your own.

5. How do I take action?

Finding a coach who’s the right fit for you starts with a conversation. To optimize the discussion, do a little homework upfront. I recommend completing a SCARF assessment via the free online tool, which offers foundational insights into how status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness drive your behaviors. Sharing your results is a good conversation starter when you meet with a coach.

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