“He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” – Nietzsche
The beginning of a new year. New hopes. New dreams. New goals. New resolutions. We start with so much hope, and yet I’ve rung in the New Year enough times now to approach it with a bit more hesitancy.
Will my hopes and dreams really become reality? Is it possible to accomplish my goals? How quickly will I flounder in my resolutions?
In recent years, I have shifted from writing audacious goals and declaring new resolutions, to reorienting myself around a sense of purpose and meaning.
In fact, I recently re-read Victor Frankl’s seminal work Man’s Search for Meaning to help me reconnect with a sense of purpose. As a holocaust and concentration camp survivor, Frankl’s perspective on finding meaning in life in the most dire of circumstances is disruptive to my very modern, comfortable, middle-class lifestyle. And more so than a grandiose deep meaning of existence, he challenges each of us to discover this sense of purpose ourselves: “One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”
Within this quote, I find three core principles to understanding purpose:
• You have a specific vocation or mission
• You cannot be replaced
• Your task and your opportunity to implement it are unique
In a society that is plagued by comparison and a constant view of everyone else’s successes, it seems we are less inclined to value the unique purpose we are designed for.
Clarifying your purpose provides an anchor in those moments of doubt, comparison, jealousy, or insecurity. It provides the why when your goals feel daunting. It is the compass when you are overwhelmed with distraction.
5 Steps to Clarifying Your Purpose:
1) Take inventory of your gifts, talents, and strengths. What are you naturally strong in? What do you have a special aptitude for? What do you do with ease that others marvel at? Make a long list going back to your childhood. Look for patterns and perhaps notice talents that you’ve allowed to lie dormant.
2) Appreciate your personality. How would others describe you? Quirky? Witty? Serious? Fun? Shy? Outgoing? The problem with personality is that it’s so core to who you are that you may not recognize the unique parts of it. To help identify the key characteristics of your personality, do an informal poll of your friends and family. Ask them to give you the first word that comes to their minds to describe your personality, write down those words, and pay attention to what is repeated.
3) Reflect on your experiences. Whether right or wrong, good or bad, beautiful or ugly, tragic or hopeful, our experiences shape us. How have your experiences shaped you? What have you learned from these experiences? How could you use your experiences to help others?
4) Consider your opportunities. What connections do you have? Where do you have influence now?
5) Define the “what” and the “who”. Based upon the reflection you have done so far, what do you feel most called to do with your life and whom do you feel best called and equipped to serve?
Here is my purpose statement: To encourage, equip, and coach leaders to lead themselves well, to develop healthy teams, and to create thriving organizations.
Your purpose needs to define your core “why“. It won’t be specific to a job or a season. It will be a reflection of who you are. Stephen Covey defined it this way: “A mission statement is your philosophy on how you want to live and captures what contributions you want to make during your lifetime.”
As you take on today, I hope you’ll anchor it with a deeper sense of purpose!
At The Grit and Grace Project, we would love to challenge you to discover purpose. Uncover your own unique gifts and talents as a strong woman. If you don’t know where they lie, here are some things to consider:
- What kinds of things do your friends ask you to help them with?
- Ask the people who love you what they believe your strengths are.
- What do you enjoy doing that other people seem to dislike or struggle with?
- Consider taking some personality or giftings surveys and tests. (I recommend the free Myers-Briggs Personality test, located at the following link: www.humanmetrics.com.)
- Consider taking the Strengths Finder test. Learn more here.
For more articles on a strong woman’s purpose, check out:
How to Get Honest About Your Dreams and Thrive!
What My Faith Says About My Purpose
How Do I Know What Defines Me?
Not Sure How to Answer the Question: “What’s Your Why?”
Why Now Is the Time You Should Rethink Your “Purpose”
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