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Weekly Wellness Word: Purpose

Monthly Theme: Playing & Working

This week’s word is Purpose

There is a place on the label of every medication that indicates what it is used for, the purpose for which the drug was manufactured. Heartburn, headache, heart disease. The directions for taking the medication are designed to help the patient receive maximum effect towards the intended use, the ultimate purpose for taking the medicine in the first place.

Most of us would say that we were born for a purpose. Whether we have figured out what that purpose is, well, that’s another story. Yet there is some value in asking the question, “Why was I born? What purpose does my existence have in the world?”

Once we know our purpose, or at least have some ideas of what it might be anyway, then comes the job of figuring out the directions, to create the recipe that will maximize our effectiveness towards that purpose. If we are lucky, really lucky, our jobs help us to fulfill our purpose. We find a companionable partnership between our purpose and our job description, our identity and our professional title. Our work for our employer complements and fulfills the work we are purposed to do in the world.

One of the challenges we sometimes face is when we see a mismatch between our work and our purpose. When this happens, we may have a tendency to compartmentalize our lives. Work life over here and our purpose life over there, often stubbornly out of reach. Could be that we then begin to compartmentalize the parts of our identity. At work we’re one person, at home a different person, and someone else when we are living out our purpose. Keeping track of who we are with whom is tiring though.

One of the secrets of wellness is to just be yourself. Find ways to integrate the compartments of your life together into a synergistic life force that you carry into every situation with everyone. Creatively weave your purpose into your work. Overlay your identity onto your job title.

This week consider the “you” that you bring to work. Do you look, talk, and act like the true you, the unique you, or have you compartmentalized the way you show up? Notice if you are trying to become someone you are not, taking on an identity or purpose that doesn’t feel natural or genuine.

In every job there are behaviors that are expected in order to be professional and trustworthy. Do those expected behaviors feel constricting or freeing to you in your current role? What is it about them that makes you feel that way? What ways might you explore to bring your own unique identity to your work that would still be within the boundaries of your role? Write down one or two ideas of how you might share your unique purpose with those around you in a more intentional way.

Quote of the Week

"My definition of success that has served me well for many years: I am successful to the degree that who I am and what I live are in alignment. I am doing the right work, with the right people, for the right reasons.

In getting to this place of alignment, one thing is clear: The quality of our lives is largely determined by the quality of the questions we ask ourselves - and the quality of our answers.

Answered thoughtfully and candidly, the right questions offer the possibility of a life that is much more than a satisfactory compromise. As a leader you must answer the right questions for yourself first, and then for the company. Erik Erikson wrote, 'There are certain individuals who, in the process of resolving their own inner conflicts, become paradigms for broader groups.'

What are the right questions? They are the big questions that define your ideal future:

Where am I going?

Why am I going there?

Who is going with me?

How am I going to get there?

Am I realizing my full potential?

Am I fully extended in my capabilities?

Is there value and fulfillment in my work today?

What unmet needs am I moved and positioned to meet?

The biggest barrier to addressing such questions is fear of the journey - fear of discovering who we are or the impermanence of who we are. Yet these questions are compelling because they lead to an eminently desirable outcome: They enable deep, positive personal change. They open up possibilities not previously accessible.

Companies, teams, families, and communities have been changed by individuals who have arrived at compelling clarity about the trajectories of their corporate and personal lives, having wrestled these questions to the ground. Our answers provide the context through which we experience the content of our lives. How do you build this internal context? Articulate the highest and best contribution your company, your family, and your life can make."

- Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations

Next Step

The reality is that our connection to our identity and purpose significantly affects our overall wellbeing.

This week's Next Step is to invite you to take the Wellness Inventory Assessment, a whole person snapshot of all aspects of your life, personal and professional. All dimensions need balance for you to thrive and be resilient. The Wellness Inventory assesses 12 key dimensions of personal wellbeing. Think of it as your "internal operating system."

The Wellness Inventory helps you understand your current behavior and how you can make better choices to improve whatever you feel is important, what you’re most motivated to change at the moment – to discover a better sense of self identity, personal and professional relationships, and meaning in everyday life.

The Wellness Inventory’s 12 dimensions result in improved health, focus, creativity, conflict resolution, teamwork, communications, and work-life balance. It’s a logical result that when all dimensions are actively engaged and balanced with deep awareness, an individual can achieve optimal personal potential.

To request access to the Wellness Inventory assessment, simply comment on this blog post and let me know you are interested.

Further Information

For a deeper dive on the connection between work and identity, check out this article, Are You Just a Job Title? Work and Identity Explored.

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