3 Questions That'll Help You Claim Your Purpose at Work

April 29, 2019

Asking yourself these questions will help you define your purpose at work.

Do you know what your true purpose at work is?

This might seem like a touchy-feely question or a nice-to-have, as opposed to a need-to-have. But that’s frankly not true – being out-of-touch with a sense of purpose at work is a leading cause of stress. Conversely, people who have a defined sense of purpose get far better results and are far better leaders than those who don’t.

That's why defining your purpose at work is one of the best things you can do for your career. It’ll keep you motivated. It’ll help you focus on the work that really matters. And, it’ll make your work much more satisfying.

The challenge is claiming that purpose, as many of us aren’t sure what exactly our purpose should be.

Well, LinkedIn Learning Instructors Lisa Earle McLeod and Elizabeth Lotardo want to help, which is why they’ve made their awesome course – Finding Your Purpose at Work – permanently free.

The whole course is great, with one of the most powerful videos within it on claiming your purpose at work. In that video, McLeod and Lotardo list three questions to ask yourself to help you define your purpose at your job.

Instructors Elizabeth Lotardo and Lisa Earle McLeod explain how to claim your purpose at work, in a video from their LinkedIn Learning course “Finding Your Purpose at Work.”

3 Questions To Ask Yourself That’ll Help You Claim Your Purpose at Work

Regardless of your job, you can create a purpose statement around it. And it’s not as hard as it sounds.

“Creating a purpose statement can be intimidating,” Lotardo said. “A lot of people think of them as these really intense things that are etched in stone in the marble lobby, but it's actually a lot more simple than that.”

To do that, McLeod and Lotardo encourage you to ask yourself these three questions about your current job:

    1. How do you make a difference in your current role?

This defines your North Star. What’s the main goal of your job? Or, if you manage a team, what’s your team’s goal?

The answer here shouldn't be about yourself or your organization. Instead, it should be about how you make a difference in the world.

If you are in payroll, you make a difference to employees by ensuring they are paid on-time, the correct amount, so they don't need to worry about it. If you are in sales, you make a difference by solving the problems of your clients. If you are in product, you make a difference by building tools that make the world fairer, more efficient, more fun, etc. 

    2. How do you do it differently from your competition?

The first question is about the what. This question is about the how.

What is it that either yourself or your organization does that sets you apart from your competitors? Why were you hired, or, speaking from a business perspective, how does your organization stay in business?

Maybe you have unique data others don’t. Maybe you have a unique brand. Maybe a unique product.

This helps you prioritize tasks, as if a task isn’t focused on that differentiation, it perhaps shouldn’t be done.

    3. On your best day, what do you love about your job?

Finally, this question helps you define your own passion. What is your favorite part of the job?

The goal is to best align the second and third questions as tightly as possible, to deliver on the first. If are you doing what you love and it’s a unique strength of either yourself or your organization, you will make a difference.

Best Practices for Creating Your Purpose Statement

From these questions, you can create your purpose statement. According to Lotardo, a strong purpose statement should:

  • Use the word “we,” instead of “I.” Perhaps there’s an exception here if you are an individual contributor. But still, even in that case, you are more powerful if you have people working with you – making “we” a more powerful word.

  • Articulate the customer impact. Go back to the answer in question one. How does your work help your customers? For some roles (like payroll and many other HR tasks), your “customer” might be someone internal, like employees at your company. That’s fine too – how are you helping them? The more specific you can be on this impact, the better.

  • Are short. There’s no hard-and-fast rule here that it needs to be X amount of words. But, the shorter you can make your purpose statement, the easier it is to remember and the more likely you and your team will use it.

By asking yourself these questions and following these rules, you should be able to create a purpose statement for yourself and/or a team.

An example, for an HR pro who does employee voice surveys: Our purpose is to give each employee at our company a voice. An example, for an on-call plumber: Our purpose is to solve our customer’s problems on time and on budget, so they can focus on what’s most important in their lives.

You can do this for almost every role. And, just by doing it, you’ll have a much deeper sense of your purpose – which will make you happier and more motivated to come to work each day.

Want to learn more? Watch McLeod and Lotardo’s free course, Finding Your Purpose at Work, today on LinkedIn Learning.

Videos within the course cover: