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How to Focus on Your Purpose

In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, an effective strategy for being resilient is by staying focused on your purpose.

Why Focus on your Purpose

Your life's purpose is your internal compass. It defines the direction in which you would like to see your career and life move. It gives you a framework in which to make choices one step at a time that lead you to your best career fit in the long term.

Purpose also gives meaning to your life and provides a sense of stability and continuity in changing circumstances; in other words, it boosts your resilience and prevents burnout. I have observed that my clients who have the highest career satisfaction and engagement levels know their purpose.

Purpose is not just about career satisfaction:

  • A study of more than seventy-three thousand Japanese men and women in 2009 found that those who had a strong connection to their sense of purpose, which they call ikigai, tended to live longer than those who didn’t.
  • Dan Buettner, in his study of “Blue Zones”—communities in which people are more likely to live past one hundred years—found the same connection. Buettner identified factors that most centenarians share, and one of them is a laser focus on purpose.
  • In 2014, researchers used data that tracked adults over fourteen years and found that “finding a purpose in life appears to widely buffer against mortality risk across the adult years.”

So, what is purpose? Think of your purpose as the contribution you want to make to the world. You can begin exploring your purpose by answering these questions:

How to Focus on Your Purpose

Focusing on your purpose means to discover and live your values.

  • What matters most to you in your life?
  • What matters most to you in your career?
  • Does how you spend your time—both professionally and personally—reflect your values? If not, what activity can you eliminate in order to devote time to an activity more in keeping with your values?
  • What can you do this week or this month to focus on a value you would like to integrate more into your personal life and career?

As you determine the direction of your life going forward, let your purpose provide a sense of stability and continuity, even in changing circumstances.

By Beth Benatti Kennedy, Leadership Coach and Pathwise advisor

For more on careers and leadership, uncover our structured approach.

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