I’ve learned that work is most fulfilling when it’s a calling. And often, it’s a calling because you find a deep sense of purpose and positive impact in your role. And fortunately, the data show that purpose is incredibly tied to both business and personal success. In Corporate Culture and Performance, authors John Kotter and James Heskett write that purposeful, value-based companies outperform their counterparts with 400% higher revenues, 700% greater job growth and 1,200% higher stock prices. But having purpose doesn’t only impact the organization you work for; it also impacts you. Research from the Hay Group shows that highly engaged employees are, on average, 50% more likely to exceed expectations than their least engaged counterparts. As a result, I believe that, to be both successful and fulfilled, it is crucial to understand what purpose means to you.
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Granted, finding your purpose is a proactive pursuit. Many people start to explore their feelings when they’re unhappy, dissatisfied with their job and/or upset with their personal life. But it is important to find time to reflect when you find yourself in a good place, too. When you’re experiencing fulfillment and joy in your work or in your personal life, take a moment to ask yourself, “What am I doing right now that is making me fulfilled?” Are you helping someone? Are you coding? Are you being creative? Are you creating the best financial model the world has ever seen? The answers to this question often bring to the surface what is important to you and can help you recreate that satisfaction moving forward.
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I’ve also found it helpful to create a personal vision for your life. Spend some time thinking about what your ideal day would be like. I keep a “dream book” myself, and I’ve filled it with things that are important to me—from building a great tech company that is tackling a hard but important problem to building and maintaining lifelong friendships to checking items off of my travel bucket list. It even includes a picture of a well-landscaped backyard because that’s been on my list of projects to tackle—and trust me, you need vision to see beyond the weeds that are back there today.
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So spend time creating a vision for your life. Ask yourself key questions about the role that purpose will play. Trust me, your vision can and will change over time. But knowing what you want your life to look like and then working to establish annual, monthly or even daily goals and habits to help you live that life—in and out of the workplace—is absolutely key to success. And more importantly, it is absolutely key to finding your passion for life.
Susan Hunt Stevens is the founder/CEO at WeSpire.