4 Steps To Give You A Greater Sense Of Purpose

Posted November 6, 2013 by Lucia Labouchere in Career Moves
Churchill Quote

Probably the number one reason individuals contact me is because they are seeking a greater sense of purpose in their careers and lives.

Is this something you also crave?  And what exactly do you mean by it?

When I was in London living a life at the speed of light, working at Bank and with my hedge fund fiance, a greater sense of purpose was probably the number one thing I craved.  My days were so full and yet I felt empty.  I wanted what I was doing to matter more, to have more of an impact, to be more authentic somehow.  There was a deep knotted feeling in my gut – can you relate?

So I acted, radically, in search of more meaning; I swung to the other end of the spectrum, I spent a year studying to be a psychotherapist, broke up with the fiance and moved to Malawi to work with children with disabilities, then children who were victims of abuse.

On a scale of 1-10 my sense of purpose went through the roof.  What I did, mattered.  The people I was working with needed the help I had to offer.  BUT it was tough and it exhausted me.  Once again I burnt out after about 3 months (which was how long my placement was). Of course I did… because although I perceived the work to have a huge amount of purpose it was not really what I loved to do all day and the environment was so foreign much was lost in translation.

I recognized this and moved across to a child rights NGO where I could be in more of a management role coordinating projects.  Again after 9 months there I was agitated.  The work was fascinating but I was in a field I didn’t know and the pay was a couple of hundred pounds a month (a decent local salary) – not sustainable for me.  I was then offered a position as a project manager at an NGO, where both the sense of purpose and pay seemed good.   It was, until my faith in the work diminished.  Slowly but surely witnessing poor management from the NGO and terrible corruption.

So whilst all of these had a greater sense of purpose, they were not THE thing for me. 

They were A thing, steps towards the right thing, the business I now run.  It is easy to feel the pressure when leaving a position where there is not much sense of purpose to get it right, the desire to do the one and only thing you are meant for, but it is very hard to know straight up what that is, especially when you are surrounded by people still ‘in it’, so I recommend taking steps, changing your career and lifestyle a bit, giving it slowly more purpose.  Whilst my method is certainly one, it can be done gently, slowly, first identifying what matters to you, then, including more of those things in your life increasing your fulfilment.

I had a kind of universal perception of ‘greater sense of purpose’ – it is a classic right, helping children in Africa, running an HIV project?! And the irony is I often feel as though I took way more from those places than I gave.

My coaching business I run now was created using all my past experience, each step has lead to it.  My sense of purpose is at 10.  It’s amazing to see people find their dream jobs, to set up their own businesses, to become confident excellent managers, to move to more exciting companies, to excel interview when they have previously struggled, to get 5 interviews from 5 applications, to earn more than they ever have, to swap careers and keep salaries, all these things.

It is important to feel like what you do matters.  But it doesn’t mean you have to be Mother Teresa or work for free, or exhaust yourself or put yourself in danger.  You don’t even need to travel!  At the end of the day you are always going to give your most and be the best, the most inspiring, when you are doing what you truly love so get clear on that.  It is where the treasure lies.

4  Steps to find yourself a Greater Sense Of Purpose:

  1. Get clear on what a ‘greater sense of purpose’ is for you?  What really matters to YOU – what can you see yourself contributing to, what causes will you fight for, what do you truly love doing?  Write a list or two.
  2. Plan to take small steps and include just one more of those things in your week.  Start to slowly shift towards doing more things that matter to you, not necessarily saving the world in one big explosion! More going along to meet ups, joining the RGS, finding a charity you would like to support, writing an article for a blog you like, getting crystal clear on how you can add value to your cause.
  3. Notice how you feel when doing these things with ‘more purpose’ – if you feel energized and happy afterwards you are on the right track, if you feel tired and bored then it is not the right route FOR YOU and you know now, change track. No points for martyrdom – it does not serve anyone and least of all you!
  4. Gradually over the days, weeks, months do more and more of things that matter to you, to the point that you are so energized by them that you can see clearly how to step forward and make a career from them – still using all those transferable skills that you have gained to date (the ones you like using!).

(If you take a step that isn’t ideal, you are still one step closer, so be kind to yourself – it’s a journey in itself working out what you truly want to be doing and what will give you that greater sense of purpose!)

Doing more of the things you love will give you a greater sense of purpose.

Have a fabulous week and if you like what you have read here, please do not hesitate to connect with me directly on lucia@lucialabouchere.com or via my website lucialabouchere.com

About the Author

Lucia Labouchere

Lucia is an independent performance coach and career consultant. She runs bespoke programmes that help business leaders and budding entrepreneurs to become clear on what their unique offering is and how it can serve them. She helps build momentum and direction in careers and lives so that her clients can enjoy a greater sense of purpose, more success and be truly inspirational. She works predominantly via Skype and is based between Italy, the UK and Malawi.