We’re all familiar with the archetypal midlife crisis that involves a sports car, some new clothes and maybe even a younger love interest. The truth is that the vast majority of midlife changes are not superficial, but instead are driven by people looking for more meaning in their lives.
Some people are lucky enough to find careers that fulfill their purpose early on, but for most people finding that dream job is usually through trial and error. People make transformations simply because they are looking for a deeper sense of purpose: the stock broker who opens a bakery, the executive who sells everything and moves to Asia, the wealthy entrepreneur who gives his money to charity.
For example Bill Gates, who at times has been the wealthiest person on the planet, has shifted his focus over the last several years to doing things that drive his core purpose of improving the quality of life for people around the world. He has done this through his foundation’s efforts to improve education, vaccinations and health, and agricultural development across the globe.
Two people I’ve had the pleasure to meet who live their Core Purpose are Dick and Barbara Couch, the owners of a company called Hypertherm. Their Purpose is serving the greater good of their employees and their town. Hypertherm has a no-layoff policy. Instead they have created a war chest, so that when the economy dips, they cross train employees instead of laying them off. It’s the most amazing thing. The Couches even held tight to their Purpose as they were transitioning toward retirement. As a privately held company, they could have sold the business and made well over $1 billion. But they knew that if they sold, American plants would be closed and jobs shipped oversees.
Instead they gradually sold their company, piece by piece to their employees at a bargain price, so it is now 100% employee owned. When I asked Barbara why she would sell her company that way when she could have had an extravagant retirement, she looked at me like I was crazy. She said, “I love my town. How could I look anybody in the eye if I sold out their company?” Their Purpose was clear. They can retire as fulfilled and happy millionaires.
We live in a culture where we are rewarded with the superficial by the superficial. Many people are taught that their purpose in life is outside of themselves, and because of this many people let popular opinion dictate what they should do, feel, want, or even say. Well-being research shows that most powerful way to live is in balance: being true to yourself while also contributing to the world.
This brings us to Core Purpose, which is what you feel you exist to do. It is a single phrase that defines what gives your life meaning. It comes from within, and it is not about what others expect you to do. Somewhere inside, you feel drawn to expressing certain strengths, or achieving certain outcomes. THAT’s your purpose.
Life is more meaningful when many of your hobbies, career responsibilities, and other life decisions align with your Core Purpose. Your purpose becomes your inspiration!
So let’s get to the Core Purpose Brainstorm!
- If you’ve completed the Principles and Strengths brainstorms, start by mining those ideas to see what strikes you as your Purpose. (In fact, if you haven’t yet completed the Passion, Strengths, Value Add, and Principles brainstorms, you may want to take a few minutes to check them out.)
- Select words or phrases from the list below that deeply resonate with you. Add new words or phrases if they express your purpose better. Don’t worry about how precise or accurate this is. Don’t over analyze; just choose what attracts you. You might even see a pattern here.
- Now choose the top words and phrases that represent your Core Purpose. Go through the list and pick your top 3-10. Think quickly. Don’t overanalyze or take too much time. Listen to your heart here.
- Once you have compiled your phrases, use them to come up with a draft purpose statements of a few words up to a couple of sentences. Often a purpose statement will start with a verb, something you feel motivated to do. (A purpose statement does not have to be fancy, altruistic, or self-explanatory to be an inspiration to you.)
Prioritizing them like this also gives you clarity about which parts of your DNA are your BEST DNA. When you take a look at these statements, everything should generate an image in your mind of the best of who you are, and who you can become more of.
Stay tuned next month, when we work on Best DNA Mottos!
Until then, check out BestDNA.com if you’d like to be guided through discovering your Best DNA and learn how to live into the best of who you are. Use the coupon code “purpose” for 50% off in August.