It’s all well and good for me to write article after article about focus, productivity, efficiency and the like, but ultimately it all falls by the wayside if we all just end up drudging through our day, hoping to get from the start to the finish as soon as possible so we can go home and slouch in front of the TV.
What we need to keep us going is an overarching driver. A catalyst for motivation, which keeps us going through the harder days (and let’s face it – there are some). On those days it will get us through, but on the good days we will be able to build up energy, strength, efficiency and productivity because this thing is also able to take our personal efforts beyond what we sometimes think is possible.
What is is?
Some people call it “vision”, but to me that’s a different thing.
Finding your purpose can be one of the most life defining moments for any person. It can be a challenging prospect, especially if you have been coasting through your days, or have simply fallen into your legal career because that’s what 3 generations before you did. You need to be able to find your purpose without necessarily referencing what you are doing now.
BUT – don’t get lost by focusing on what you are “doing” – because purpose is not as much about WHAT, but WHY. So to start trying to hunt down your purpose you need to ask yourself
Why Do I Do What I Do?
It’s not a question I can answer for you. Don’t make it too complicated – if you go all “lawyer” on it and start writing out a 1000 word essay, you’re going to get lost. 1 or 2 sentences should be able to sum it up for you. The principle thing is to make it real. Make it define what it is that you are working for in your career.
On that note I might say this: you might have a professional purpose and a personal purpose. I’m just talking about professional here, but I’m not so naive to think that people define their entire beings around their profession, nor should they. Lawyers shouldn’t be one dimensional any more than anybody else should be.
Once you have found it, your entire outlook on your day to day tasks will change. Everything will start to become more clear as you reference it back to your purpose – you can now put a meaningful framework around tasks that seem like they are they are the most mind-numbing task in the world (like time recording).
Here’s what finding your purpose can do for you in a nutshell:
- Help you prioritize. You will be able to sort out the “wheat from the chaff” by saying – “is this helping me towards my purpose or not” – if it’s not, then maybe you need to rethink.
- Get you productive. Having an overarching purpose also give a sense of accomplishment with each task, because you are no longer working in a vacuum, but towards a particularly meaningful aspect of your life.
- Keep you happier and more motivated. Knowing the bigger picture of what you are doing also allows you to get through the days with a brighter perspective, because you are now finding that the things you are doing have a context which you have specifically chosen and that you specifically value. No longer are you just floating down the river, but you are swimming in your chosen direction.
- Make career choices. Your purpose is a powerful tool for measuring up career opportunity. Promotions, job offers, lateral moves and the like might come around. Sure there might be more money, but how do they measure up against your life’s purpose?
Your purpose might change or need tweaking over time – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the step now to try and deliberately set it out.
So what’s your purpose? Have a go at setting it out in the comments below, and then you’ll have a reference to come back to when you need it.