Clarifying your vision and purpose can be one of the most powerful ways to bring about change in your life. Without them, you can find yourself lacking any real motivation, drive, or passion for your loves in life. You do things, but they don’t correlate with any bigger picture. Everything you do appears in isolation, without any real meaning or direction. Then, later on, you can find yourself surprised or unmotivated at where you arrive or end up.
The core purpose of maintaining a vision and purpose is to drive you forward but also to ensure you actually go where you want to go. If you don’t have a clear agenda, then without a doubt someone else’s will end up being your focus. Vision and purpose, knowing your ‘why’, give you the motivation and inspiration you need to work hard, achieve your goals, and create a fulfilling life. But these concepts don’t have to be as definitive and complex as we might often think.
There are plenty of reasons why you might find yourself without either. Perhaps you’ve recently experienced a lot of change that’s been out of your control and the life you once had before you seems out of reach or no longer possible. Or maybe you’ve just never felt a real sense of purpose but are now feeling an increasing pressure to nail this down.
Instead of feeling pressured to iron these things out as soon as possible, it’s important to understand that your vision and purpose are fluid. They’re meant to guide you through life, not stifle your progress and weigh you down. An ongoing journey of development and growth is far better than working towards one unchanging destination. Identifying a vision and purpose and what drives you can certainly help to motivate and guide, but it’s important to acknowledge they’re also prone to change and evolve as you grow.
What is our vision and purpose?
Your vision is your destination; where you aspire to be. It’s what you see your life looking like five, ten, or fifty years down the line. What do you hope to be doing? What do you hope to have achieved? Where will you be?
On the other hand, your purpose is more complicated. It’s what guides you. Why you do what you do; what legacy you’d like to leave behind. When you imagine where you are fifty years from now, why are you there? What benefit are you having on others and the world around you? What about your future achievements will give you the drive and enthusiasm to work hard and achieve your goals?
In some senses, clarifying your vision is easier. It’s about picturing what you want your life to be and what you hope to achieve. But finding a wider purpose that genuinely inspires you and that you are passionate about can be much harder.
William Damon defines purpose as:
A stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at the same time meaningful to the self and consequential for the world beyond the self.
A common misconception
Many people get tripped up by putting too much pressure on what their vision or purpose should be. Realistically, they don’t have to be these grand plans that will change the world. If they motivate you to wake up each day and work towards a better life for yourself and those around you, that’s more than enough.
More important than identifying a specific, set vision and purpose is committing to an ongoing process of discovery and development. We shouldn’t think of purpose as something we need, and without which our lives are meaningless. Instead, we need to recognise it’s actually what drives us and it’s important to commit to the journey of finding a wider purpose and passion for life. It’s about taking back control, being more conscious of your personal drives and desires, and striving to always improve.
Focusing on finding a concrete sense of purpose can be restrictive. You can end up striving for a purpose just for the sake of it, one that won’t bring you any joy or sense of fulfilment. Inevitably, that way of thinking will lead you right back to square one. However, it’s crucial to discover what’s important to you and recognise that it’s fluid and will evolve as you do. Getting support to help you discover what is driving you intrinsically is a wise thing to do.
Sit with yourself
Starting to identify your vision and purpose requires some internal reflection. What is the life you’d like to be living? Who are you? What are your values? What legacy do you want to leave behind? What do you want to achieve? What impact will you leave on others and the world around you?
Sometimes, listing out your values, passions, and goals can help you recognise potential areas to explore.
Take the pressure off by admitting you might not – and don’t have to – find all the answers. Stay curious and inquisitive about what brings you joy and motivates you. In this instance, looking at what you don’t want can be helpful because you can flip it round to ask why you wouldn’t want that and see what is driving that idea for you. From here, you can piece things together and find what awakens you most and pushes you forward.
Whether you find one overarching purpose that shapes your whole life or just find new ways to be more conscious and inspired in your daily life, it’s a long-term journey that requires you to commit to doing the work. You need the discipline to work and an ongoing commitment to see things through.
Remember, your purpose, vision, and goals will all change and adapt over time as your life follows different paths and different opportunities become available to you. But no matter what form they take, when you connect with them they will naturally generate passion, enthusiasm, and reinforce your ongoing commitment to achieving whatever it is you’d like to achieve.
As a mindset and performance coach, I help my clients to reach their goals and achieve fulfilment and happiness. Together, we work towards unlocking value and success, whatever that might look like to you. If you’re interested in working together, get in touch with me here.