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Crafting a Personal Purpose Statement

What is your personal purpose?

I was honored to be part of a pilot program earlier this year called high five to progress. This program seeks to align our purpose with our behavior. When we have inconsistencies in those–when we're not congruent in what we believe and what we do–this causes stress in our work-life balance as well as our life. Click here for the documentary that followed us along this process. During this time, I spent my time working on my personal purpose statement.

What is a personal purpose statement? It is a statement that lays out clearly your values and goals. These are big-picture; these are aspirational; these are a life's work. These are not this year or this quarter.

I last edited my purpose statement in June 2020 and I keep up with how I think I'm doing in a journal. It's really just a touch base: am I being congruent with what I believe, and if not, where can I make adjustments?

The purpose statement breaks down into three major categories in the structure that I've picked. What do I desire to be or do in just very broad strokes–very overarching strokes? What are my personal dreams? What do I hope to accomplish? For me, these are things like building community, things like building organizations to consistently execute the vision.

More importantly, is the more detailed picture of what I want to become. For me, this was in four areas. What I want to become in a detailed way related to my faith. What I want to become in a detailed way related to being a father. What I want to become in a detailed way as a partner. What I want to become in a detailed way as a leader.

How do you come up with this? Start with what's most obvious to you when you answer the question, "when I grow up I want to..." Or take a more direct approach with the funeral exercise. Imagine your own funeral. It's going to happen. Imagine what you want people to say; how you want to be remembered. This is a start. This is the first step. From that, you really have to do some work to unpack that. Ask yourself again and again "why." Be like a relentless toddler, "Why? Why? Why? But why?"

Once you can't answer that anymore, you'll be pretty close and there'll be some value statements. Something like what your parents told you. Something like what you believe at your core. This is your personal purpose.

I like to revisit this at least once a year or any time there's a major life shift–a change in jobs, change in location, etc. Touch base: how are we doing? Are we still on the same path? Do we need adjustments? Do we have any edits to what the purpose is? This took me probably three or four out of the six weeks to develop so don't beat yourself up if you're not rushing to get this done.

Take some time, because once you have your purpose down, it puts everything in context. You can say yes and you can say no much easier when you know why.

Your why is your purpose.

I'm not going to say yes to this opportunity because it doesn't align with where I'm going. I am going to do this thing even though it's hard–even though it seems impossible–because this is where I'm going and this is who I'm going to be.

Let me know your take let and your experience in developing a personal purpose statement; how you went about it, and how it's going.

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