If finding purpose in your work matters to you then read on.
I never know what to call people who are doing one of my courses; student? customer? I think I will settle on reader.
Anyway, I got a nice email from one of my readers which went something like this;
I was particularly struck by one section of this video, one of the ‘complete the following sentence exercises ‘My purpose is to…’ I must admit I was quite intimidated by it. It was very difficult to answer . . . . .
I have never set out to help anyone find a job. I figure you can manage that on your own. This site and everything I write here or in my courses is dedicated to one thing – Helping you land your ideal job. I believe finding purpose in your work is a critical component of your ideal job.
Most of my readers are pretty smart. In fact some of them are very smart. They are experienced too and I always worry about telling you how to suck eggs, but this only goes to make my point all the better. If figuring out your ideal job was easy, you would all have done it by now. If finding purpose was easy you would have done so already. God knows you are more than smart enough.
But the reality is most people have never figured it out. I very rarely come across someone who knows exactly what it is they want to do and why. And that’s the nub of it. I know at times it can feel like everyone else knows what they are doing but believe me, they don’t.
Even with my help, identifying your ideal job (and knowing why it is so) is still difficult. Finding purpose is difficult. I suspect without help, it would be next to impossible. So what makes it so bloody difficult. Why was this particular reader so struck and intimidated by what I said on one of my videos?
Well for one I think most people still wrestle with the whole idea of “an ideal job”. They see it as idealistic, fanciful. Perhaps they feel they don’t deserve it or perhaps they don’t really believe it exists. I suspect most people think that they will aim for an ideal job and settle for any bloody job at all.
But it doesn’t really work that way. There is your ideal job and then there is every other job. There isn’t much in between. It’s like trying to cross a stream in two leaps. Most people go through life with wet feet.
What is purpose learning?
For all students, there is a strong pressure to select courses, declare a major, study hard, and get good grades. This focus on academics can be all-consuming and prevent you from realizing that you will only be at Rutgers for a few years and that all this studying is preparing you for what you will do after you graduate – the purpose behind all this learning. Identifying your purpose early can lead to greater career satisfaction and even better academic performance (i.e., knowing the reason or long-term goal behind why you’re studying so hard can enhance your enjoyment of your courses and motivate you to do better). Many struggle in this area and it is hard to find the right path, although there are many coaches specialized in areas such as Career Coaching for Engineers, medicine and art studies to help you take on.
As Rutgers graduates, you will soon be called upon to contribute solutions and lead in a world filled with economic, political, social and technological challenges. Rather than simply declaring a major, it is more important to declare missions. The intention is that students connect their academic pursuits with a purpose that fuels it. Consider the following examples:
“I’m a Biology major” can be replaced by “I’m learning human biology to eliminate world hunger.”
“I’m learning Computer Science and Political Science to rebuild how citizens engage with their governments.”
The ultimate goal behind purpose learning is to help you select a meaningful course of study while at Rutgers, and then start building a framework that maps out the first 10 – 15 years of your professional life. It isn’t so much about the career trajectory, but the reasons behind it.
Finding purpose means making decisions
This particular reader is struggling because having completed most of the course and done most of the groundwork, he is now at a place where he has to make decisions. And none of us likes to make decisions. Deciding what to have for dinner is pretty hard, never mind deciding what to do with your life. So do not underestimate the struggle you will have with a career decision.
It’s worth mentioning at this point that a problem can never be truly understood until it can be expressed as a dilemma. Until you refine it to the point where you have to choose A or B, then you haven’t yet reached the point of decision. Until you are prepared to cut yourself off from certain options, then you have not yet made a decision.
When it comes to job hunting most people prefer to leave the decision making to others -to the employers. I understand this, as making decisions is really tough. But I think it serves you better in the long run if you take control of your own decisions. It’s the difference between being given a job and taking a job.
So if you are finding this difficult, that’s OK. In fact, if you aren’t finding this difficult then you are doing it wrong. It’s OK to wrestle with something as big as this. 99% of people will never find purpose in their work. They will never find their ideal job. And it’s not because it’s beyond them, but simply because they never looked. They never tried. They never made the decision to take the decisions.
I suspect 99% of people will leave the decision making to the employers in the world, rather than decide what it is they actually want to do. Sure it’s a plan and it’s what most people do but it’s unlikely to result in you finding purpose.
So it’s true you may have to wrestle with a few decisions but I recommend you make like Johnny Weissmuller and wrestle each one of them to the ground as your life depended on it.