5 Common Myths About Purpose That Are Holding You Back


Purpose is an overarching aspiration that energises your efforts and gives a central source of meaning and significance to your life and work. Having a sense of purpose helps us to be healthier and happier. In fact, research has found it can give us up to seven years of extra life!

But, there are some common myths that are misleading and can hinder our efforts to live and work with purpose. Let’s dispel those now.

Common Myths About Purpose Debunked

  1. Purpose is about what we do or achieve – This one is very prevalent in Western society. But being energised by purpose can also be about a commitment to a way of being. Purpose is our ‘why’ – its a reason for doing, rather than the ‘doing’ itself.
  2. We have one over-arching purpose – Most of us have different roles, identities and pursuits that give us meaning and purpose. A singular pursuit of one purpose might mean we are out of balance in other dimensions of life.
  3. Purpose is static – We can give ourselves a pressure to find our one, true purpose. But purpose changes and evolves. In fact, purpose can become stale and lifeless when we keep doggedly pursuing a purpose that we have perhaps outgrown or is no longer fulfilling us.
  4. Purpose is inherently good – History tells us there have been many purpose-driven leaders who have being energised by a sense of purpose but have brought suffering to the world. The content of our strivings matter.
  5. Purpose means following my bliss – It might partially be about this, but you might also find meaning and purpose through illness, grief, unwanted change or even tragedy. It might involve deep work, grit and perseverance. We shouldn’t assume that difficult experience and emotions limit our potential to create a purposeful life.

Three Reflective Prompts

Use these coaching prompts to self-reflect or to have a team discussion:

  • I feel ‘on purpose’ at work when….
  • If I had one extra hour each day, I would spend it….
  • At my 100th birthday party, I would love people to celebrate the following things about me and the difference I’ve made….

Over To You!

What has resonated with you?  How might you use this week’s ideas in your own context?


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