The Working With… Podcast

How To Find Your Purpose

March 7, 2022

This week’s podcast is about identifying your purpose—possibly the most difficult area of focus to define.

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Episode 221 | Script

Hello and welcome to episode 221 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.

One of the parts of life I talk about is areas of focus and there are eight areas we all share. These are:

Family and relationships.

Lifestyle and life experiences

Career/business

Finances

Self-development

Health and fitness

Spirituality

And life’s purpose

Many of these areas are easy to define and establish what they mean to us. However, most people struggle with their life’s purpose. 

Now, I suspect this is because we think our life’s purpose needs to be something grandiose and world-changing when in reality life’s purpose is nothing more than helping other people and contributing in some way to our society and that can take form in multiple different ways. 

So, this week, I am exploring how you can establish and develop your life purpose so you can work on bringing balance to all eight of these areas. 

Now, before we get to this week’s question, have you joined my free weekly newsletter yet? This is a weekly newsletter that comes out every Friday and brings you all the content I produced that week including my YouTube videos, podcasts and blog post as well what I have been reading and watching from others. 

Additionally, you get a weekly productivity or goal setting tip. It's tremendous value and will give you something more constructive to read and watch over the weekend. 

All you need to do is use the link in the show notes to join. 

Okay, time for me now to hand you over to the Mystery Podcast Voice for this week’s question. 

This week’s question comes from Jamie. Jamie asks: Hi Carl, I’ve recently been working through your Areas Of Focus Workbook and have most of the areas worked out. The one I am struggling with, though, is life’s purpose. I really don’t know what my life purpose is. Could you give me some ideas about what I should be writing here? 

Hi Jamie, thank you for the question and for downloading and working through the workbook. 

Before I begin, I should mention, if you want to get a copy of the Areas of Focus Workbook. You can download it for free from my downloads centre on my website. 

Okay, as I mentioned in the opening, we all have eight areas of focus. We all have them, the only thing is what these areas mean to us will be different and how important they will be. For me, health and fitness is higher up than finances. For others, their self-development could be high up and spirituality low down.

For the most part, these will be easy to define. Family and relationships, for instance, is likely to be the easiest to define and, as Jamie mentions, life’s purpose is very difficult. 

So, what does life’s purpose mean?

Now, this may be different for many of you, but the way I see life’s purpose is in contributing back to society. It’s in giving and helping. 

Now, let me ask you a question; how do you feel when you have helped someone out of a difficult situation? I know I feel great. I get a buzz from helping people. 

When I was in my early twenties, I did not really think about how I felt about it, but now, as I look back through my life I realise the most fulfilling moments in my personal and professional life are those moments when I have helped someone or contributed to a worthwhile cause. 

There is something special about using your skills and knowledge to help someone in need. This is why I don’t really believe anyone should retire. Sure, by all means, leave your job, take some time out for yourself, but if you really want to be happy, you should use the knowledge and skills you developed over your professional life to help your community. You could write about your experiences, help out at a community centre or go to a local college and teach. 

If you have taken care of your financial area of focus, your life will no longer be about earning a living, now your life should be about giving back to society. 

Let me explain using my own life experience. When I was in my twenties I did not really know what I wanted to do. I tried all sorts of jobs, from hotel management to car sales. And while I liked all those jobs, they really were just ways to earn a bit of money so I could go out clubbing with my friends on a weekend. 

I hated Monday mornings and I remember sitting in my living room on a Sunday night dreading going back to work. I lived for the weekends and it was a miserable existence. If you are living your life for the weekends then 70% of your life is going to waste. 

The funny thing is, as I look back now, any additional work given to me was always a pain. I always felt overwhelmed and client problems caused me stress and worry. While I loved law and enjoyed working with the people I worked with, I was not really happy inside. I was still going to work to pay the bills. 

Things changed for me when I took a year out to teach English in Korea. I knew I need to think about my future, I couldn’t bear to feel I was going to spend the rest of my working life living for a salary. 

It was when I began teaching I discovered that helping people was incredible. Life no longer became about me, it became about my students. I was consumed with finding betters ways to build their confidence when speaking English. I stopped hating Sunday evenings—in fact I was often so excited to get back into the classroom I struggled to sleep. 

Now, I found myself still going out with my colleagues and friends on a weekend, but my life during the week was no longer about living for the weekend. I got to live life every day. 

What changed? The biggest change was my professional life was no longer about me. It became about my students. And this is really what your life’s purpose is all about. It’s about using your skills and knowledge to help other people. When you have that shift in mindset, your whole life changes.

The first change you will notice is you no longer worry about the clock. When I worked in an office, I arrived a few minutes before my start time and I left as soon as I could at the end of the day. Now, I have no problem spending a few extra minutes helping a student or client with a problem. 

My relationships have improved too. Now, when I am with my friends and family I am no longer worrying about work and having to go into the office the next day. I am more positive, a better person to be around and when I am with my family and friends and really am with them—instead of my mind still worrying about work. 

When you think about it, working 9 till 5 (or what every time you work) is just a concept from industrialisation. Before we industrialised, we didn’t worry about the clock. We woke up at sunrise, we went out into the fields and did our work, returning when the sun went down. Because our only goal was to provide food for our families through the unproductive winters, life was much harder, but it was also a lot simpler. Spring, summer and autumn were about growing, nurturing and harvesting our crops. Winter was about doing the repairs and preparing for the coming spring. 

We got more rest in the winter because the days were shorter. We worked long hours in the summer when the days were longer. 

We essentially worked with nature. Now we work against nature, and that causes us to feel anxious, stressed and leads to all sorts of dangerous lifestyle diseases. 

So to really understand what our life purpose is, we want to ask ourselves: how can I help and contribute to society? 

From that question, you can look at your profession—how does your work help other people. If you are in sales, you are solving people’s problems by providing them with a tool or service that will solve their problems. If you are in customer service, you provide answers to customers’ problems and, of course, teachers and doctors help people develop themselves and stay healthy. 

When you think about it, your life’s purpose will always be about giving back. Writers bring joy and entertainment into people’s lives. Actors and comedians also. Scientists develop new ways of improving people’s lives and find better and cleaner ways to heat our homes and fuel our cars. 

So, Jamie, think about how you help others. What is it about your work that solves other people’s problems? Change your perspective about your work from one that provides you with an income to one that gives you the opportunity to help people who need your skills and knowledge to solve difficult and stressful problems in their lives. 

Last week, I wrote in my Learning Centre’s Learning Note, that your work needs to change from being just a job to become your mission to help. When you wake up in the morning knowing that what you will do today will help someone, you are going to start the day with a lot more energy and purpose than if you wake up focused on writing reports, responding to emails and attending meetings. 

As I wrote in my learning note:

“Your job is a vehicle that allows you to help people. There is nothing more satisfying than being able to help someone in some way. To solve their problems, help them overcome a difficulty, or give them support when they need it. 

Whether you are an author, a financial advisor, a doctor, or a real estate agent, your job is to help people. When you see your work from that perspective, you will never worry about how much time you spend doing your work. You will be present when with your family, you’ll be happier, less stressed and will be a pleasure to be around. 

Surely, that is better than worrying about how much time you spend doing work? “

I hope that has helped, Jamie, and thank you for your question. 

Thank you to you too for listening. It just remains for me now to wish you all a very very productive week. 

 

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