Earlier this month, I was given the opportunity to attend an event called P3: People, Purpose and Possibilities. When I signed up, I wasn’t entirely sure what the day would bring. Let’s just say I haven’t felt this inspired in a while.
Throughout the day, we heard from numerous speakers who had a variety of experiences. Robert
Fogary, spoke to us about his Dear World project and humans’ desire to be heard. Aaron Hurst from Taproot, talked about aligning purpose with career, how all work should feel like pro bono work and that purpose is a choice we make daily. Kai Kight, a violinist, wowed us with his amazing rendition of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal. He talked about ignoring the standard and creating your own path, writing the songs of the future versus playing someone else’s songs of the past. Nadine Burke-Harris, founder of Center for Youth Wellness, spoke about adverse situations impact children’s’ health, that being in chronic fight or flight leads to major health problems. As you can see, we heard from a variety of people, too many to name, who each defined purpose differently.
I’ll admit, I left feeling inspired but not sure what to do with the wealth of information I just received. It took me time to process everything I heard and create an action plan or purpose statement. We will get to that but below are my biggest takeaways from the event.
- One of the PwC directors reminded us that finding your purpose is a journey. It is okay to not be 100% certain about your purpose statement, especially if you are younger in your career. I’m glad she mentioned that because I’m not entirely sure but plan to be more self-conscious about my purpose across all aspects of my life.
- I know my company invests in their employees but this event was the reminder I needed. Not many companies let you spend a day in reflection around what your purpose is and how it aligns to the company’s purpose.
- Another PwC director put purpose in the context of “what do you want to be remembered for?” That’s a big question that could cause some to be overwhelmed. If you think of that question each morning and keep it in the back of your mind during the day, you’ll create a life driven by what you believe in versus just going through the motions.
- Aaron Hurst gave us a few examples of where purpose could come from including relationships, something greater than yourself and personal growth/challenges. Again, I drilled this down to the daily interactions I have that align with what I believe my purpose to be. It’s also about stretching yourself to try new things that could inspire others. Andrew Yang from Venture for America also said there’s no courage or challenge without risk. For me, risk makes me a bit anxious so what he said really resonated. Without any risk or new experiences, you become complacent.
- Another PwC director reminded us that our purpose, whatever it is, should be evident across all of life’s domains. So you should bring your purpose to work, to your community and to your personal relationships. If you feel like your work isn’t meaningful, talk to someone about how to change that.
After some reflection, here is my current purpose statement: I want to positively impact people and live an authentic life. I know this will evolve over time and plan to review it often. I’ve been trying to keep this in mind at the start of each day. Some days are easier than others. When I think about my job and how this is applicable, I think about each interaction I have: something as small as a thank you email or happily answering a question. Those small things matter and are a part of the bigger picture.
As for the authentic piece, take a look at the picture to the left. That is my Dear World picture, which is intended to convey my story to the world. For me, I don’t want to just say I believe in something, I want my actions to speak volumes. Saying you believe in something is much different from actually going out there and living out your values. I want to show up as my authentic self, every day in every aspect of my life. Part of this is being more intentional with my time. If I say blogging or exercising is a priority, then I must intentionally dedicate my time to those activities. If at work, I say having an eye for detail is important, then I need to spend time reviewing each aspect of my projects.
Knowing your purpose and applying it to daily life isn’t easy. You won’t always get it right. But I challenge you to think more about it and your values. Please share your purpose statements in the comments section!