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Discover your unique "MY PURPOSE" for work-life integration & fullfillment (PART 1)

Updated: Mar 8

As a new year begins and you consider your new year’s resolutions or goals, this is a good time to step back and consider the bigger picture: your sense of “MY PURPOSE” for work-life integration & fulfillment.  What is it that is uniquely YOU?  What are the ideas and values that you hold which weave through your personal and work life? What gives you a sense of excitement or challenge? Or what is that nagging feeling that something must be done and you are the person to do it?


When you have a clearly articulated MY PURPOSE statement, you can make resonant choices, clarify priorities and continually expand the impact you make on others.  Additionally, a good MY PURPOSE statement feeds your own needs and desires too.  A MY PURPOSE statement that is high on altruistic pursuits but does not feed your own needs for fulfillment and substance will not be sustainable.  In other words, a good MY PURPOSE statement fuels a virtuous cycle of GIVING and GETTING. 

Your MY PURPOSE statement starts with identifying WANTs, MUSTs and CANs do in your life

WANTs, MUSTs and CANs description as components of MY PURPOSE
Your MY PURPOSE statement starts with identifying the WANTs, MUSTs and CANs in your life.

To get started formulating a MY PURPOSE statement that is uniquely your own, it is instructive to reflect on your life to this point to draw your attention to the formidable experiences which have shaped you into the person you are today.  For this, I introduce the concept of WANTs, MUSTs, & CANs.  Your WANTs describe what you want to enjoy, feel achieve, or gain for yourself.  Your MUSTs describe what you must overcome, minimize, eliminate or change in your own life or in the environment in which you live your life.  And the CANs area is a consideration of what you can do well, contribute and/or strive for. 


Recognition of your "WANTs, MUSTs and CANs" comes from self-reflection on the formidable experiences that have shaped you

Illustration of the self-reflection questions to identify the emotions, values, thoughts and actions from a formidable experience
Recognition of your WANTs, MUSTs and CANs comes from self-reflection on the formidable experiences that have shaped you.

In order to identify your WANTs, MUSTs and CANs, it is helpful to reflect on the FORMIDABLE EXPERIENCES that have shaped you to draw out the internal knowledge and personal wisdom that is locked up in your own life of experiences.  The memory of your formidable experiences will flood you with an emotion which you can feel in the present time.  Then, you can consider what, if anything, remains important to you from this experience; the answer may reveal a deeply held value.  This enables you to ponder further what you know about yourself presently.  Finally, you can consider what this means for the actions you want to take into the future. 

To get started on this self-reflective inner journey, it is helpful to have a prompt in the form of an EXPERIENCE WORD. For example, for the WANT experiences, you may start with a word such as “accepted,” “bold", “confident” or “satisfied."  For the MUST experiences, you may start with a word such as “ashamed”, “betrayed” or “confused.”  With this word in mind, you reflect on the questions above until you can identify what this formidable experience reveals about your future.

I suggest doing this self-reflection with a variety of EXPERIENCE WORD prompts over the course of a few days in different environments and/or during different activities.  Do it when you are sitting calmly or while on a crowded train, when walking leisurely or when hiking or running. Then jot down some notes so you have a good cross-section of memories from a variety of formidable experiences.

Listing of Experiential words to identify WANT experiences

Listing of experiential words to identify MUST experiences

For the CAN identification exercise, identify your core strengths.  Core strengths are skills, knowledge or qualities which gives you confidence.  Additionally, identify your areas for improvement.  Areas for improvement may represent underdeveloped skills, knowledge or qualities which you may want to polish up, draw out and firm up.  Consider especially what skills, knowledge and qualities you muster up when faced with challenge.  From this inquiry, you can identify your unique capabilities which form your CAN area.

Once you have done this mental exercise, it is instructive to speak with someone else who knows you well- a parent, a sibling, a close friend, colleague or relative.  Ask that person to tell you what they value in the relationship with you.  Ask what they can rely upon you for and what they think you are good at.  Finally, ask what potential they see in you for making an impact into the future.

Having done this exercise, you now have the baseline information you need to start drafting your MY PURPOSE statement which I will explain more about in part 2. 

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