A lot of the stuff that I write about, I’m actually going through as well. One of the benefits of my writing is to help me clarify my thoughts, put them out into practice, and learn from the results.
In an earlier post I talked about the simple formula for working on purpose. I ranted on about how your purpose is found at the intersection of these 4 questions:
- Do you love the work that you do?
- Are you really, really good at it?
- Can you get paid for it?
- Does the world need it?
The theory is that if you can say yes to each of these questions, you are working on purpose.
Since writing that post, I’ve been attempting to be more intentional with working on purpose. What I’ve come to realize is that it’s a struggle for me to say yes to each of these questions.
I was pretty good at faking myself out, pretending to say yes, but in reality it’s been a real challenge. After talking with a few of you, I’ve also come to the conclusion that we are all struggling with working on purpose.
Being the strategic thinker that I am, I think I’ve discovered a better way to solve the problem of working on purpose. I am now leaning toward a new belief that we all have the same purpose and that is to discover and live our purpose. How we fulfil our purpose is to identify the current mission in front of us that will move us closer to discovering and / or working on purpose.
My response to the 4 questions in my current job as a project manager looks something like this:
1. Do you love the work that you do?
There are times when I love it and there are times when it drives me nuts. I love it when I can add value to the team, which in turn moves the project forward in some way. I hate it when I need to do meaningless administration tasks that add no value. It’s a good week when the productive moments outweigh the administrivia.
2. Are you really, really good at it?
I like to think that I’m good at project management. The role allows me to practice and grow my key strengths of leadership, management, people, strategy and execution. I’ve invested a lot of time and effort in developing these skills and project management give me the opportunity at continual growth.
3. Can you get paid for it?
As a contract project manager the pay is quite good. It allows me to support my family (my oldest is about to head off to university), take a vacation a few times each year (let’s go to Disney – Woot!), and to buy my toys (I’m an Apple junkie).
4. Does the world need it?
The specific projects that I’m working on are not solving world peace or feeding the hungry. They are your normal everyday technology projects that are looking to satisfy a business need within the company that I’m working for.
After doing some quick number crunching, in any given week, we are spending about a third of our time working (including the commute). It would be a real shame if we spent that time doing boring stuff and being miserable.
What I try to focus on is looking for opportunities to help the people that I work with. How can I help them achieve their goals? How can I help them grow and develop? How can I show appreciation for the great work that they are doing?
It’s in these small ways that I attempt to make the world a better place.
Am I lying to myself?
Looking back over my answers to the 4 questions, I might be lying to myself. If I didn’t have to worry about money, I would not be working for corporations doing project management. This seems like an obvious strike against me.
I also believe that there are better, more impactful, ways that I can add value to others. Either through publishing my #careerhacks through this blog, coaching others one-on-one or training large groups.
However, the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Being a full-time career coach and trainer doesn’t even come close to providing the money that I need to serve my family. It also comes with it own set of activities that fall into the “doing stuff I hate” category.
Where do I go from here?
This brings me back to my new thoughts of working on purpose.
If it’s true that our purpose is to work on purpose, and we do this by identifying the missions that are in front us, then my current mission is this blog. As I learn how to write better posts, be more authentic in my writing, and focus on how to help others, I know, deep down, that this is my current mission.
I also believe that putting in the time and effort to regularly review how I’m living up to the 4 ‘working on purpose’ questions is an essential part of the formula. This process primes my internal navigation system to be open for opportunities that will move me closer in alignment within the 4 questions.
I hope sharing my personal struggles with working on purpose has been useful for you. Now it’s your turn to reflect and answer the questions. I’m curious on how you are measuring up to the 4 questions and the challenges that you are experiencing as you attempt to work on purpose. I would be honoured if you would share your thoughts in the comments below.