“Few of us have thoughtfully considered the mainstream conception of success before we have pursued it, ” John Coleman writes in Harvard Business Review. “We may be thoughtful about selecting a job or career by thinking about what we’re good at or the paths of those we admire, but over time, that job may dominate other meaningful parts of our lives (we all can relate to the struggles of work-life balance) or we may lose sight of what makes that career purposeful in the first place. Our default, then, is often to chase material progress without truly asking why.”
As psychologist Martin Seligman put it, “True flourishing involves some element of accomplishment, certainly, but also involves meaning, positive emotions, engagement, and relationships. Reflecting on this more profound definition of success challenges us to adopt a fundamentally different path than the one championed in popular culture. And doing it early—and often—allows us to craft a life that is more consistently filled with meaning.”
In Coleman’s book The HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose, he proposes that a well-lived life, one in which you flourish, includes many components, most of which fall outside of work.
- meaningful love (positive relationships),
- occupation (good work)
- religious or philosophical beliefs
- service to others
As we work towards developing your WHY, and deepening our vision of success, ask yourself these questions:
- How can I better understand the core purpose of my work and the impact it has on the world? Moreover, how can I focus on this purpose and integrate it into my daily tasks for greater fulfillment?
- How can I identify the important relationships in my life, whether they are personal or professional, and find ways to strengthen and enhance those connections?
- Reflecting on who I serve both in my professional and personal life, how can I expand my impact in my workplace, community, and home?
- Every day, how can I make a conscious effort to better myself, in both my personal and professional pursuits. How can I engage in endeavors that enhance my skill set but at the same time hold significance?
Many individuals who wait until later in life to contemplate these important questions often realize that their ability to achieve true success has been diminished by years of following a less fulfilling path. Achieving an aligned business and life is possible for you today. It may require altering your perspective on work, or investing more in meaningful relationships. You may opt to deepen your commitment to helping others or pursuing new and meaningful hobbies, or make bigger changes such as starting a new business altogether, relocating, or changing your lifestyle. Regardless, it involves taking a serious inventory of your current life and reflecting deeply on whether your current path aligns with your desired destination.
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