October 28, 2015


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Finding your purpose at work


Finding purpose in your work can be hard. It can get confusing to know where your motivations are coming from if you aren’t sure about what you want. You can be making decisions out of fear:

What will happen if I screw this up? What does this mean for my reputation? Do I even have a reputation? Will this help me or hurt me in my goals?

Real fears. All are pretty much worthless for helping you to do great work.

Doing great work means letting go of the expectation that it will be great. This is something of a paradox, but I personally believe it to be true. It’s also something I still struggle with. Doing great work involves purpose. Do you have a purpose? It is much, much easier to find purpose in your work if the organization you work for has defined theirs.

I think it is critical for an organization to define it’s purpose and direction. Some employees chafe at that kind of doctrine. Their resistance has to do with truth—any perception of a disconnect between those values and the reality they live every day at the office, will be met with cynicism. I don’t blame them.

Some, however, just want to complain. There are some who will never really buy in. The best thing leaders can do for their organization is identify what they believe in. Identify where they are going. Communicate that and let people know where they fit. If an employee doesn’t fit, well, that clarity is a gift. Time for them to move on. Time to find a new place, with a new purpose, where they do fit.

What’s my purpose at work?

Admittedly, it changes, as my day jobs have changed. Right now, I have defined three broad goals that I try to accomplish every day, while I continue my journey at the best job I’ve ever had:

1. Creation – Did I create something of value, learn something new, or grow as a person today?

2. Collaboration – Did I help someone else today?

3. Culture – Did I work towards making this place better today?

Those are mine. What are yours? If you haven’t thought about them, do it today. Don’t wait. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll come home at the end of each day feeling better about what you did. Because you’ve identified your benchmark to something that only you can own.

If you do that, how can any day ever be a bad one?

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