Finding Purpose to Drive Achievement and Fulfillment

Purpose can be a powerful thing, but I didn’t realize just how powerful of an impact it can have on achievement and fulfillment until recently.

Over the past several weeks I have been noticing a considerable down swing in my mood. For those that know me, this isn’t a typical place for me. I tend to be pretty outgoing, upbeat and energetic. So when I started to struggle with this malaise I started to analyze the situation. This for those that know me does sound like me.

It turned out be a lot harder than I thought. At first I chalked it up being unemployed and bored, but then I realized that it was more than boredom. If this were the case I would just fill my time with hobbies. After several very helpful conversations with my wife, who knows me about as well as anyone, I began to realize it was about a lack of purpose in my life.

In the past, I always had some purpose that filled my life. Typically it was through my career. 5 days a week I had a place to go where my skills were valued and needed and I was using them to help people and make my organization the best it could be. Helping, after all is one of my personal core values and it provided me with the compass to find purpose in my career. I just didn’t realize how deeply it strengthened my inner person and gave me energy and positive vibes.
Since I (voluntarily) left my previous career behind to make a recent move from Chicago to Denver, I have essentially “unplugged” myself from that purpose outlet that was my career. It seems that the longer I am “purposeless” the more my mood and drive is impacted.

Now, one thing I want to clarify here is the difference between goals and purpose. Goals are important, but they don’t always tie to an individual’s core values like purpose does. For example, I currently have a goal to find a new job, but this doesn’t charge my batteries like purpose. I believe more and more that goals tied to values become a purpose and this feeds a person’s need to achieve. I think unconsciously I have known this, as part of my job search is to find a position and company that aligns well with my own values. This way I know I will be more motivated to give my employer energy and not just hours clocked. The hard part is finding purpose until then to keep my batteries charged. One thing I am considering is volunteering some of my time to great causes while unemployed.

Is this something that you have experienced? If so, what are some things you do to create purpose for yourself, when maybe a career isn’t readily available?

About the author: Heath

6 comments to “Finding Purpose to Drive Achievement and Fulfillment”

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  1. Edward Antrobus - August 7, 2011 at 7:26 PM Reply

    I like how you didn’t tie purpose to following some sort of passion. Purpose and passion are separate things that can come from the same thing, but don’t have to. And you are absolutely right. I’m stuck working seasonally right now and during the off parts of the season, it can be difficult to talk myself into even going outside.

    • Heath - August 7, 2011 at 9:00 PM Reply

      I hadn’t thought about it that way Edward, but its an interesting point. To me if I am doing something that has purpose it doesn’t always mean I am passionate about it. Thanks for pointing that out.

  2. Luke - August 17, 2011 at 1:02 PM Reply

    When I was unemployed World of Warcraft was my passion. However I don’t recommend getting sucked into that :)

  3. Cameron Plommer - August 17, 2011 at 1:34 PM Reply

    I’ve thought a lot about this lately and have been working on such a post as well.

    I’ve noticed that when people have children they suddenly have a renewed purpose to their lives: caring for the child. This makes decision-making easy. All they have to do when faced with a decision is ask themselves, “does this benefit my kid?” They also have a permanent reason for doing what they do.

    I’m not sure how to replicate this without having a kid. Maybe for some it’s getting married and taking care of a spouse. Maybe it’s starting a company, growing it and taking care of your employees. I think it depends on the person.

    • Heath Port - August 17, 2011 at 3:02 PM Reply

      Replication is definitely tricky. I have been kicking around the thought that maybe has more to do with finding a company to work for that focuses on a greater purpose than just making a buck. If that purpose is something inspires an individual then maybe being employed with that organization knowing you assisting in making a difference can help fill that space?

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