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?