Three Ways to Find Purpose in Work & Life

Three Ways to Find Purpose in Work & Life

All of us want purpose- a reason to get up in the morning that has deep meaning for us. Studies from around the globe show that people who have a sense of purpose live longer and are happier than those who don’t have it. In my most recent book The Purpose RevolutionI show that when people see their work as a calling, they also perform better on almost every metric from performance to engagement. But how do we find more purpose in our work and life?

Today I want to share a few ways we can get connected more connected to our purpose.

First: Notice purpose when it happens

One of the most powerful ways to find more purpose in our work or life is simply to be more attentive to when purpose is present. One of the things I have encouraged people to do for years is to take a few minutes at the end of every work day to ask: What did I do today at work that had purpose for me and gave me a sense of meaning? By taking the time every day to do this simple task we will begin to discover our desires – and what parts of our work make us more present and fulfilled. If, for example, we find that getting out and talking to customers gives a deep sense of purpose, then we need to start making sure we hard wire that task into our schedule. This self-evaluation process also works for coaching others because when we ask employees to identify those moments, it allows us to connect them with their purpose in a meaningful way. But also evaluate and connect with your own life purpose. Ask yourself What activities this week really gave me a sense of purpose?

Second: Ask how you want the room to change when you walk into it

While we often think of purpose as some large, overarching mission in our work or life, many times we discover purpose in the small ways. One of my favorite coaching questions for purpose is to ask people: How do you want the room to be different every time you walk in? A few years ago, I asked a receptionist in a law firm and she said, “Whenever I walk into a room I want people to feel optimism and positivity.” She began to realize she could live her purpose every day just by intentionally being positive and creating meaningful interactions in every encounter. For me, I want people to feel challenged to take their life and work to a new level, which means that I can live that purpose by writing books and giving keynotes, but I can also live it sitting next to a stranger on an airplane or encouraging a tennis opponent who is new to the game.

Third: Don’t be afraid of the BIG Questions

Whenever I do keynotes or workshops on purpose or engagement inside a company I often put out this challenge: If you can’t live your purpose in the role you are in right now, then you owe it to your life to either find a place you can live that purpose or to find a way to live it where you are. I am always daunted by the positive response I get to this simple challenge. Many of us come to accept a low level of purpose in our work- after all, it is just a “job.”

But the stakes are way too high to work or live without purpose. A few years ago, I did a series of sessions for call center team members at a large bank. After working with over a thousand associates, the leader told me that six people had quit within 45 days of my talk. When I started to apologize, she stopped me saying: “Please don’t apologize, they were the right people, people who realized they could never be at their best in the role they were in- so it was good for them and good for us.”

Life is too short not to have a deep sense of purpose. If your life or work does not hold purpose for you now, then don’t be afraid of those big questions: Is this company or this role aligned with my purpose? Is there another calling that beckons me? How can I take a step of courage, however small, to move towards that purpose?


Of course, my new book The Purpose Revolution is chock full of exercises and activities that will help you find more purpose and coach it in others. For now, start with these three simple steps.


Dr. John Izzo has spoken to over one million people, advised over 500 companies, authored nine best-selling books, and helped some of the world's most admired companies. He has been a pioneer in creating successful businesses and emerging work trends for over twenty-five years.

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