In one tweet, what is your purpose?
It’s inevitable, things will change. In every area of your life, but, let’s focus on the professional side. Things will change.
If you are part of a living organism, of an active organization, things will shift, people will come and go, you will move to one place and to the other, you will be pulled in many direction. You will interact with different people. Interests will change, motivation will be high at one point and low at another.
This is a constant in life: change. And it’s ok. In my case, change gives me anxiety, I can not deny that. It’s not easy to foresee the change that are coming, and even if you see them coming, to adapt to them takes a lot of effort, and most of that effort is in dealing with your own insecurities, fears and actions.
The truth is that change is not always good, and you can not prevent it, so the best you can do is to take a position and react to it.
The one thing that has helped me through the years, through all the changes, is to have a clear understanding on what is my purpose in the organization and as a professional. To me this is key. To understand what is my purpose help me focus on were to put effort, to choose what things I want to be part of, what fights I should just loose and what battles I need to win. It brings clarity to the steps I need to take. It doesn’t eliminate anxiety, it is still there, but it brings purpose (dah!) to my actions.
So, in my brief experience in life, a good method to knowing my purpose has been this:
- LEGACY: Being the best at something is not a legacy, is a quality. A legacy is something that others can take and build upon. It’s not about an activity, it’s not about “designing” or “organizing”, it is about an outcome, what is it that you want to achieve, what is your end goal, in other terms: what is your legacy?. If you focus on activities, then something will change or block you from doing that activity and you will fall apart, but if you focus on your legacy or outcome, when a blocker comes in place, you will find new ways to reach that goal. If my goal is to design a mobile app, and tomorrow there are no more mobile phones, my purpose ends. If my purpose is to make better interactions, then no matter what device, what technology, I will strive to understand how to make that work, and today it’s mobile, tomorrow, who knows.
- IMPACT: It’s not about you, it’s about others. Do not think of your purpose in terms of what makes you feel good, think about it in terms of how it impacts others. That will give another light to what you are doing, and will show you if what you are doing is relevant or just something you enjoy a lot. Focusing only in what you enjoy may not be sustainable (hopefully it is), focusing on the needs of other will make you more flexible and will make you find joy and a mission at the same time.
- SKILL & PASSION: Sometimes we are good at things that we don’t necessarily enjoy, or we enjoy things that we are just not good at. Finding this balance is important for purpose. We should aim to doing something that we like, and that we are good at, something that we are effective at and that we enjoy not just the result, but the process. This is not easy, and it take years, but finding this will clarify your purpose.
In my professional life I’ve gone through many changes, worked with many teams, have done many activities, and some of them were not easy or enjoyable and have made me doubt my purpose. In those times, going back to the basics has made me focus on what I should do, to forge my way, to not loose sight of what I need to do in stead of what I am doing right now. It helped me re-gain momentum and re-organize, and find joy and results and build a legacy.
So do this, write it down, put some effort into it and make it readable, iterate it, start defining your purpose, it’s the best exercise you’ll do.
Following your purpose is so much more than checking an activity, it is having meaning in your work, and that leads to a better life.