How to Have Purpose in Your Work

How to Have Purpose in Your Work

“In a world where the larger majority of society is careless, it’s the small percentage of people who make the choice to be different and prioritize relationships that stand out.” ― Farshad Asl, The “No Excuses” Mindset: A Life of Purpose, Passion, and Clarity

Today you will learn about how what it means to have purposeful work. If you haven’t checked out my article on how to find your purpose, do so.

We spend the majority of our adult life at work, so it is important to fit your work into your purpose. Work can mean a job, your own business or freelance work, or your studies if you are a student.

To have an idea of what kind of work is for you, here’s an odd question: Would you rather be a pirate or a sailor? A pirate stands out. A sailor blends in. Each has their merits. In terms of work, the pirates are the entrepreneurs while sailors are the employed.

Entrepreneurs often face these questions before they become successful:

What do you mean you want to start a business when you’ve got a secure job? What do you mean you want to drop out of school and pursue something you’re more interested in or you don’t want to get married yet?

Society, often in the form of our friends, family and maybe even teachers, expect us to behave a certain way and have certain goals. When we do anything out of the norm we might receive ridicule, judgment and blank stares. In the same way, we might feel pressured to play it safe.

Did you know the education system trains us to be workers? If you do research on the history of standardized education, you’d find that the education was started for creating farmers.

In fact, Peter Gray states in a PsychologyToday article that “with the rise of agriculture, and later of industry, children became forced laborers” and schools taught standardized required skills for agriculture. He goes on to write that “with the rise of schooling, people began to think of learning as children’s work.”

The Truth Behind The History of Schooling

Schools often train us for a lifetime of working in a job.

Sailors are the people that chosen to accept the lot dealt to them and avoid risks of entrepreneurship. They grind the 9-5 (more like 9-9 in some industries). Some of them live purposefully in the jobs they hold. If they do, then they can excel at what they do.

If you want purpose as a sailor, then you must understand the results of the product or service you offer, and be able to connect it to your life purpose. 

This can be an accountant understanding the impact of her evaluation and well-being of the company on those that work there, or a factory worker on the assembly line understanding the difference he is making in his family. 

The best work is done purposefully.

In contrast, pirates question, go against the status quo, are never satisfied with the way things are, and see clearly what they want. Not only this, they embrace risk by taking action to secure their future.

Most of us are pirates in certain areas, but sailors in others. We might be opinionated about our diets, but just follow the crowd in money management. 

We might be opinionated in what music we listen to, but bandwagon while watching sports. Usually, we are pirates in areas we have passion for.

Where does work come from?

If everybody went through school and wanted a job, there would be no one providing the jobs.

The pirates are the inventors, the innovators, and the early adopters. They think differently. People call them crazy. They’ve got haters, and are pioneers. 

They stand out. 

Most of them are disagreeable and don’t care about the criticism of others. They have their way and make things work their way. They are somehow able to turn their vision into reality.

While it sounds cool to be a pirate, their lives are often filled with risks, setbacks, sacrifice, and suffering. This is why most people stay away from the pirate life. Not everyone can bear the uncertainty or the criticism.

In order to have a purpose as a pirate, you must create art, products, or services that connect to a clear vision and align with your purpose. You must also be willing to do the work and take the risks and accept the pains that move you closer to fulfilling your life purpose. 

In the words of Simon Sinek, “the concept of why is a deeply personal journey born out of pain.”

To sum up:

  1. We spend the majority of our lives ‘working’ so it is important to do work that aligns with our purpose
  2. You can be a pirate – an entrepreneur – in which case you need to clearly know how what you sell moves you towards achieving your life purpose
  3. You can be a sailor – someone with a job – in which case you need to clearly know how the requirements of your job move you towards achieving your life purpose
  4. Successful pirates often have bigger impacts on the world, but the path to becoming a pirate is often more difficult and requires more sacrifice

Take Action: Fill in the blank for the following sentence. In my work or study, I mainly spend my time on ____________________, ____________________ and ____________________ .

Look at that sentence. Do the activities you listed add value? Are they the best way of spending your time? If not, what other value-adding activities could you be doing? How could you turn what you do into value adding activities?

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