Purpose – Is It Time For A Reset?

Purpose at work. It’s a hot topic. There’s lots of great advice about how to find and even create purpose, but what about if your purpose is causing you to neglect other aspects of your energy and wellbeing? What if it’s time for a change? This article looks at how to pursue purpose in a healthy way and how to know if it is time to move on.

Being Health-Savvy About Purpose

It’s one thing to have goals and a strong sense of purpose, but it’s another to pursue our goals and purpose in a health-savvy way.

This is a HUGE blindspot in 99% of advice and training on purpose. The focus is always on how to find purpose and how to help others connect to purpose.

But learning to consciously move on rather than staying stuck is liberating. It can free up energy, release guilt and empower us to choose our next move.

If we ignore this aspect of purpose, we see talented, purpose-driven, committed individuals becoming burned out. The so-called ‘quiet quitting’ becomes rife.

Many of the 1:1 coaching clients I work with are grappling with choices. Should I stay or should I go? Should I learn to be better able to persist or pivot?

I help them by working through some reflective questions to make a decision that feels right for them. Here are the areas of exploration I invite them to consider. Maybe these will be helpful for you personally or to use with colleagues at work.

How To Know When Its Time For A Change:

1. Your purpose no longer brings you joy and fulfilment.

If you have been pursuing your purpose for a while, and it no longer brings you meaning, joy and satisfaction, then it may be a sign that it’s time to re-evaluate it.

You could keep a diary for a week and keep two columns. One for what has positively energised you and one for what has drained you. How do the columns stack up at the end of the week? If there’s very little in the energising column, that should give food for thought.

2. You’ve achieved your goals and are no longer stretched

Maybe you have achieved your goals and what you set out to do. You’ve made a difference – congratulations! But instead of feeling accomplished and satisfied, you’re growing bored or restless. What do you feel drawn towards? What is the next hill or mountain to climb?

3. Your purpose is causing stress and burnout

Maybe you are still committed to your purpose and believe deeply in its importance of it. But you have faced so many setbacks or obstacles that have drained your motivation and confidence. Maybe you’re part of a large organisation, and you feel you’re trying to turn around a tanker. Or maybe the day-to-day stressors and pressures are just taking their toll.

Your life is precious, and its value lies beyond any particular job. I truly believe your greatest gift to others is a healthy, happy you.

So if your sense of purpose is leaving you overwhelmed and exhausted, you might need to take some time out to regain your energy before making a big decision. Focus on the basics first then you can be in the best possible state to choose.

4. Your Priorities Have Changed

Perhaps you’re in a different season of life for any number of reasons – becoming a parent, experiencing illness or bereavement, new caring responsibilities, kids leaving home, divorce, a new relationship, or moving home. Allow yourself and your purpose to re-calibrate. If not, purpose can become stagnant or a burden.

We can’t make space for the new if we cling to the old.

5. Your Purpose Is No Longer Aligned With Your Values 

Maybe your values have changed, or your organisation is now causing you to feel your values are compromised. Perhaps you have had new experiences that have challenged your assumptions and beliefs, or you’ve just developed a new perspective on life, and your purpose is no longer aligned with it.

The dissonance and tension this generates can be hugely draining.

Your choices are to try to influence the organisation in line with your new values or to pivot to something more aligned with your core values.

6. Your Purpose Is No Longer Feasible

Finally, it’s possible that your purpose is just no longer feasible or attainable. Of course, a big purpose involves ambition and daring to transform the status quo. But, if pushing against a brick wall becomes a daily default, it can leave you in a difficult place. There may be a process to go through to truly accept your reality so you can let go and move on to new adventures and callings.

How Can I Share These Ideas In My Workplace?

One-to-ones are a great chance to talk about purpose. Try asking some open questions about how an individual’s current sense of purpose is feeling to them:

  • In what ways is it energising?
  • In what ways is it depleting?
  • How can you/we re-address that balance?

Over To You!

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

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