For most people they only stop and ask this question at some point such as a health scare, funerals, being made redundant, after a bad annual appraisal, or slightly more positive times like while on holiday or in the Christmas to New Year break. But how about stopping and asking that question today. Or every day?
As human beings we need to feel listened to and understood, and we need to feel a sense of purpose and meaning. That what we do each day somehow matters and that people care. Without this, and without a strong sense of purpose and meaning, we tend to feel listless, demotivated, even depressed. And while external influences can help address this, really the motivation has to come from within.
Do you love your job, every day?
If you hate your job, you'll probably take action to change it. And the same goes for aspects of your life generally. The real danger is having a job that is just mildly bad or bad some of the time, because the dissatisfaction is too low to bother doing anything about it. Without wishing to appear arrogant, and with a purpose of genuinely wanting better for someone, one of the most cutting questions I ask is "Did you set out to live a life of mediocrity? Or did it merely occur gradually without you realising?". I wonder why it is that I'm often left feeling that I think people are better than they themselves think they are? They're smarter, more capable and way more deserving of a better job and better life than they are living every day.
I was speaking to a client a couple of days ago (thanks Jim) who said he wants to be able to pay all his staff "a fair going rate". And on the face of that it's a positive thing, and certainly better than saying he wants to pay less than the going rate! However, I said that I would prefer to say that I want to pay people better than the average "going rate", for doing better than average work. Frankly the idea of paying people who aspire to average does not fill me with excitement. Yes, I know that mathematically the average is the average, but I'm sure you know what I mean. I aspire to being and doing better, and I want to surround myself with people who have similar aspirations.
What gives you purpose and meaning?
Perhaps the thing that gives me most pleasure in life is seeing people being the best that they can be, usually even better than they believed was possible. That's why I work every day in a job as a Business Coach and Mentor where I get to achieve what I enjoy - what gives me meaning and purpose. If each day I can help people enjoy their days with purpose, and meaning - I get the same.
We're all different in what gives us purpose and meaning. I'd like to ask you a few questions in order that I might spread a little dissatisfaction - with the best intention. I'm not asking you to tell me your answers, merely to be aware of them for your own benefit.
And now the big question: What actions would you need to take in order to reduce or eradicate the things you enjoy least each day; to increase the things you enjoy each day; in order to live every day in a way which gives you personal purpose and meaning?
Stop and ask yourself these questions each day, and take actions each day, even if they're small actions you'll get incrementally closer to the life and work that you deserve. May I suggest that this is the one thing on which you do not compromise?
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