How to work with purpose

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If you want to achieve your best as a writer, it’s important for you to work with purpose. Today’s post describes how to do that…

By Ann Gomez

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy visited NASA for the first time. He was preparing to give a speech to rally support for the Apollo missions.

During his visit, the president met a janitor cleaning mop and asked him what he did for NASA, to which the janitor replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

Now, we can say he meant a “person,” and over the years, we may have heard the story with the janitor changing a light bulb or sweeping. But setting aside these details, the key to the story is how this person understood something many overlook during our busy days: the power of tapping into a bigger purpose.

We are all looking for a sense of purpose. One key to motivation is feeling an attachment to the work we’re doing, and a personal sense of meaning about that effort.

We want to feel like we’re making a difference.

When we tap into a bigger purpose, we transform mundane tasks. For example, using a few weekend hours to get your car’s oil changed may not sound like fun, but it is vital to having a car that drives well. Similarly, I don’t always feel like going to the gym and lifting heavy weights. But it’s so much easier to lace up my running shoes when I think about how these gym sessions will help me keep dancing into my hundreds.

Not surprisingly, the world’s most successful people relate everything they do to a greater sense of purpose.

But regardless of how much you love what you do, you are likely to come across some tasks you simply don’t love doing. (For me, it’s paperwork.) As it turns out, our mindset can make a big difference. The term “job crafting” has become a widely adopted concept among research professionals. Changing our perspective about how we identify our work can help us shift from viewing our work as a job, to a career, and even to a calling.

Whether it’s an administrative task or a more complex writing assignment, we are so much more effective when we attach the task or responsibility to a higher goal.

On that note, how can you find meaning in your less inspiring tasks? Try asking yourself these questions:

  • How will this task support my bigger goal?
  • Why is this task important?
  • What motivates me to invest my time in this?

You might find your less inspiring tasks help you sharpen your skills or better serve your readers or stay organized so you can be most productive. Ultimately, these questions help ground our work in a compelling sense of purpose and keep us focused on our bigger goals.

When we link a mundane chore with a bigger goal, it is easier to see the value in the minutiae. We see how even the most humdrum jobs are a critical step in our overall journey. A compelling purpose helps to build excitement, initiative, and commitment. All these feelings lead to better results and bring more joy to our days.

Each time my paperwork chore rolls around, I remind myself it is a necessary part of allowing me to do the work I love – helping people thrive at work. (Of course, I also streamline and seek help with these tasks – but that’s for another discussion.)

I hope this inspires you to move into the new year with a fresh plan to tap into the power of purpose in all you do, so you can achieve your best this year.

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