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What’s Your Purpose?

Do you feel focused and on task most days? Are you enthusiastic about your work, and do you have a positive expectancy for the impact you can have? These are heavy questions on a Friday, I realize. In Simon Sinek’s best-selling book, Start With Why, he shares the concept of the Golden Circle. In the center of the circle is “why,” the next ring out is “how” and the outer ring is “what.” Most of us know what we do and how. Where many fall short is “why?” Why do we do what we do, besides the money?

Finding the answer to that question can unleash hidden potential, creativity and motivation you didn’t know you had. Once you discover your purpose, it can be truly life-changing. Patrick Hill and his Washington University colleagues have found important advantages for more purposeful adults, including better cognitive functioning and even longer lives.

University of California, Berkeley has developed a Greater Good Science Center and corresponding magazine. Click here and you can take the Purpose in Life Assessment to see how strong your purpose is. There are other assessments you can take, all free on this site. I found it to be an insightful and introspective site to visit. If you want to strengthen your purpose they suggest:

Discuss your purpose with others: Talk with a trusted friend, colleague or mentor about your experiences finding your path to purpose. Discuss where you were in your life when you first formed your purpose, compared to where you are now.

Best Possible Self: Imagine yourself at some future age—like 10 or 20 years down the road—and think about what your life would be like if everything went as well as possible.

Clarify your values: If it’s hard to figure out what matters most to you, reflecting on your values can help. (They offer free assessments.) Cultivate positive emotions: Positive emotions help us to broaden our outlook on the world and feel energized to take action for the greater good. Gratitude and awe help us care about others, build relationships and feel connected to something greater than ourselves.

My mentor, Bill Mann, told me earlier in my career: “Jeffrey, 80% of the struggles you will face in this career are between your ears. Control your thoughts and self-talk and you’ll control your destiny.”

As you head into the weekend, you might consider taking some time to listen to what you’re telling yourself, clarifying your purpose and if needed, adjusting your actions. The UC-Berkeley Purpose in Life Assessment is a great start.

Happy Friday!

Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB