There’s a reason you’re here.
No, not in a generic-positive-speaking “there’s a reason you’re alive” sense (although, yes, that’ll soon be applicable too). Rather, there’s a reason you’re here—right where you are at this exact moment—scrolling your phone, browsing LinkedIn, reading this blog, deciding what’s next.
What is that reason, you ask? To help you figure out the other stuff! Your core values or simply “what you’re about.” Funnily enough, declaring your purpose is the purpose here, but I promise it’s not *that* complicated.
Whether we’re talking about individuals, teams, or organizations, having a clearly defined purpose is crucial to peak performance, wellbeing, and fulfillment.
Here’s how to articulate and clarify yours.
The Importance of Purpose
In 2019, a study published by the Journal by the American Medical Association revealed a link between understanding one’s purpose and decreased mortality rates of all causes in people ages 50 and up. A 2014 study, funded by the National Institute of Health, also found that the ability to define one’s meaning and purpose affected life expectancy. Those who clarified their life goal lived longer and were sharper, a concept originally hypothesized by the original director of the National Institute of Aging, Dr. Robert Butler.
In his book, Why Survive? Being Old in America, Dr. Butler recalled watching his grandmother’s purpose push her forward when faced with adversity during the Great Depression—and how it shaped his own values.
“What I remember even more than the hardships of those years was my grandmother’s triumphant spirit and determination,” the psychiatrist wrote. “Experiencing at first hand an older person’s struggle to survive, I was myself helped to survive as well.”
While purpose can (and absolutely should!) show up in your regular, day-to-day life, plenty of stories exist where people have used their purpose to get through something difficult or accomplish something great. Having realized his mission early on, Dr. Butler dedicated his life to reforming the treatment of the elderly and changing attitudes toward aging. He worked passionately until three days before he died at age 83 in 2010.
“Having a purpose in life is in itself life-giving,” he wrote in The Longevity Prescription.
Purpose and Performance
When it comes to the effect of purpose on performance, research by Gallup showed that improving an employees’ connection to the mission of their organization by just 10% can lead to an 8.1% decrease in turnover and a 4.4% increase in profitability.
One of the best ways to increase an employee’s connection to their work is to allow them to take ownership of it. However, an employee must be proud of what they’re doing to claim it as theirs.
Ultimately, your purpose comes to life through your values. Values are qualities of action; they aren’t just “what” you do, but “how” you do it. The “what” changes based on a situation’s requirements (remember this from our introduction to neutral thinking?) while the “how” you show up—to whatever you’re doing—is a place for your values to shine through every time. Factor in the sustained behaviors that align with your values and you’ll see, well, the power of purpose in action.
How to Find and Utilize Purpose
Now, the best part. The following questions are great prompts to help you clarify your values—ask them of yourself or of your team as a whole. (Need an example of value words? Authenticity, curiosity, compassion, and self-development are some of my team’s current favorites.)
- What qualities describe me at my best?
- How do I want to show up?
- What do I want people (colleagues, family, friends, community) to remember and celebrate about me?
- What qualities describe our team at its best?
- What values do all of us as team members share or align on?
- What behaviors do we expect from one another? (Note: Ideally, these align with the values you share!)
Once these questions are answered, here are some purpose-defining to-dos:
- Revisit your list of values and behaviors regularly to ensure they align with your thoughts and behavior.
- If you’re working in a team environment, conduct an alignment check every once in a while where you take a second to recite a value. The conversation doesn’t have to be long; as long as you’re focused on the concept at hand you’re doing a great job.
- When a team member’s behavior especially aligns with their values, let them know how great they are in a way that means something to them.
- When a behavior doesn’t align? Hold each other accountable. Is it time to revisit your list of values again?
Remember: It’s not just what you do, it’s how you do it. How do YOU want to show up in the areas of your life that matter most? Visit us in the Club Limitless app for support and direction on clarifying your own values; we have coaches, content, and activities designed to help you do just that.