It is not unusual to begin to question your sense of purpose, and ask questions such as “Why am I here?” “How can I contribute to the world?” etc. According to a white paper ‘What women want from Work’, written by the Centre for Creative Leadership, more and more women want to find their ‘calling’. The Centre for Creative Leadership says “callings are jobs that people feel drawn to pursue; find intrinsically enjoyable and meaningful; and see as a central part of their identity. Research shows that experiencing work as a “calling” is related to increased job satisfaction.”
*What then is the difference between your ‘calling’ and your ‘purpose’?
The dictionary defines these words as follows:
“purpose” as: something set up as an object or end to be attained; a subject under discussion; an action in course of execution; by intent
“calling” as: a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence; the vocation or profession in which one customarily engages
In the context of career, we can think of a purpose as an intentional act to attain a common end, say, to serve others. We can think of a calling as a unique contribution (service) we each are passionate to contribute to others.
Here’s a metaphor to help explain this further: All the utensils in your kitchen ultimately serve the same “purpose” – to serve food. Their individual “calling” is unique to each of them. Knives cut food into smaller pieces, spoons stir things up, rolling pins make things flat, measuring cups make sure the right measurements are added into the recipe, etc. We are all like “utensils” with the purpose of serving each other in this world. “In what specialty?” that is the question.
Firstly you need to accept that you are here to serve others (not the self). Secondly, you need to get clear on how you will serve others (identify the way you feel called to serve). Without an active exploration of your purpose and calling, stagnation can settle in. Stagnation happens when you struggle to find a way to contribute – stagnation can lead to you to feel unproductive, disconnected or uninvolved with your community, with society, and the world.
How to Cultivate a Sense of Purpose:
Embark upon an exploration and creation of a purpose statement. A purpose statement is also known as a manifesto – it will help you figure out what you stand for and the contribution you want to make in the world. Manifesto’s have been used by individuals and businesses to help clarify a vision; shift thinking; and inspire action. According to Alexandra Franzen, a manifesto is where you can share your:
- Intentions (what you intend to do);
- Opinions (what you believe, your stance on a particular topic); and
- Vision (the type of world that you dream about and wish to create)
4 Steps to Creating your own Manifesto / Purpose Statement:
Step 1 Brainstorm – Find a quiet spot. Take a few deep breaths to still yourself. Grab a stack of Post It Notes. Put a timer on for 15 minutes. Brainstorm your answers to the following questions. Stick the post-it notes on a wall or on flip chart paper. Answer each of the following questions in a few words only – capture first thoughts:
- Intention: What do you love to do? What do you intend to do by the end of your life?
- Opinions: What values are important to you? What topics are you passionate about? What angers you? What brings you great joy?
- Contribution: Think of a time when you have made a difference to someone or a situation. What qualities do you uniquely bring? Who do you do it for? How are other people’s lives different as a result? How is the world different? What are you helping to bring into being?
- Vision: What do you want to see more of / less of in the world? At work? At home?
Step 2 Identify the future you really want – Some of the ideas you brainstormed will seem more powerful, more inspirational, or more visionary than the others. Group those post it notes together. Then ask yourself these questions:
- Do I feel excited about this?
- Do I feel Grounded?
- Is this what I really Desire?
At this point, remove all the Post It Notes that didn’t make the final cut (the ones that don’t feel exciting, grounded and desired)… but don’t throw them away.
Step 3 Create a first draft of your Manifesto – Look at your Post It Notes that made the cut and circle the most important words that you feel need to be in your manifesto / purpose statement. Use these words to begin to write a few sentences that really capture the future you want. Draft your sentences in the present tense, as if it were already happening. Words Create Worlds.
**For Example: Here’s an example of a manifesto / purpose statement to inspire you. In this example, a senior leader wanted to work toward becoming a more positive influence in her professional and personal life. She followed a similar process as outlined above to write a statement that reflected who she wanted to become. As you read the short statement below, consider how the individual used the present tense:
I am a mold-breaker. Each day at work, I help my colleagues raise their horizon by asking positively powerful questions that inspire and point us toward a better future. I turn negativity into inspiring dreams for the future and then equip my team with the resources they need to get the job done. At home, I support my family through a belief in the best of who they are. My kids know they are deeply loved; my spouse feels appreciated every day – I know his strengths, I see the best in him, I am eager to live out the future we’ve designed together.
Step 4 Test and revise your Manifesto / Purpose Statement – Test your manifesto, get feedback and make sure it feels right. This final step can be a few minutes long, or can take place over weeks or months.
- Test your manifesto, share it with others and ask for their reactions. Does it compel and inspire? Could the language be more evocative or engaging? Does it reflect your real desire?
- Revise your manifesto as needed, after receiving feedback from others.
- Use your Manifesto to guide your life / work / career choices.
The intention is to use your purpose statement to motivate and direct you in your life. It will also give you a sense of your life being meaningful and that it counts for something important.
Introducing the Spirit Of Womankind Manifesto: I’ve also followed these steps to create a manifesto for Spirit Of Womankind, and here it is. If you’d like to share your manifesto with me, feel free to email me at ozlem[at]spiritofwomankind[dot]com or tag me on instagram – I’d love to see it!
Explore further: Stay tuned for the next part of my research into the ‘Developmental Stages of Women’ where we will dive deeper into what it really means to cultivate a strong sense of wisdom. If you’re not already a subscriber, be sure to subscribe here to be one of the first to receive it when it’s published.