If you are clear about your inner purpose you can jump to step II right away. But if you are not clear about your purpose or need to revisit it, here are some steps to help you reflect on your past, present, and future as a guide to connecting with what is important to you and finding your inner purpose. Please also note that self awareness is a journey and you may find your purpose also changing as you get to know your self more. I have given suggestions for bringing self awareness as an ongoing process in my post what is missing in current discussions on personal branding.
This post describes an exercise, not in lieu of, but in addition to other practices for self awareness and purpose.
I Reflections on your past, present, and future to find inner purpose
1) Make a list of activities you have participated in the past that you felt most inspired to do so at the time.
(Hint: Think about things you have done in the past, which made you push your comfort zone or extend yourself in ways that you normally do not and you were able to do this because you were inspired. These are activities that make you feel most energized and empowered. Inspiration here refers to an inner urge, belief, or drive and is not related to external motivations related to financial, social, or ego gains, even though the latter may be an outcome.)
2) List people who inspire you and what are the qualities in these people that inspire you.
(Hint: There are many inspiring people in this world but who inspires you tells a lot about what is meaningful to you. Specific traits and talents in these people are important to you because they reflect values that are important to you and are likely to be the ones that will influence your business practice.)
3) Think of the challenges in your life that have impacted you profoundly – what did you learn from those challenges?
(Hint: we learn most from challenging situations because it forces us to find new solutions to deal with them; they push our mental limits. Often the challenges have a recurring pattern because they are meant to teach us something of value that we can then share with others – what have you learned from your personal experiences that you would like to share with the world?)
4) What are you naturally curious about?
(Hint: What are the things you enjoy learning about, what kind of documentaries do you enjoy, what kind of books do you read? Answers to these questions point to your natural inclinations and interests. Your ambitions can be influenced by external factors, but your natural curiosity is something inherent to you and it doesn’t lie.)
5) Make a list of things that you enjoy doing most. These could be related to your work or not.
(Hint: Be honest in describing what you enjoy doing with your time and resources. These could be activities completely unrelated to your current work. You could make a good livelihood out of activities you enjoy such as music, art, and cooking. But even if you did not pursue these activities as a career, a comparison across such activities will point to some underlying themes that reflect your inner purpose. For example, I love to read and learn about how the mind works, I love to help people find their purpose, I love to meditate, I love to create healthy and tasty foods, I enjoy finding solutions to unique business challenges, and I love my research. These activities do not seem to have much in common on the surface, but they involve creativity, mindfulness, self awareness, and problem solving and all of these feed into my work of inspiring purpose and finding profitable solutions that are mindful.)
6) What characteristics or traits do you love most about yourself?
(Hint: Ever so often we get intimidated by the accomplishments of others. At times like these, it is important to reconnect with what we love about ourselves and what we can uniquely bring to our work. Again, it is not important that these qualities do not seemingly relate with what we do at work. For example, you may be a nurturing mother, an adventurous cook, and innovative shopper. Now you can bring all those qualities of nurturing, adventure, and innovative thinking into your work Authentic entrepreneurs are integrated people and who you are at home and with your family is the same as who you are at work with your employees and customers.)
7) What is the one change you would like to see in this world?
(Hint: What sort of things that you see or read about that make you angry, what is the change that you are most passionate about seeing in this world? The transformations that you want to see are opportunities for you to find your purpose.)
8) If money and any other limitations were not a problem, what work would you dedicate yourself to?
(Hint: Often we set artificial barriers to doing what we truly love. If you could imagine that none of these barriers exist and you are free to dedicate your life to doing one thing – what would it be?)
9) How do you want to be remembered?
(We postpone things that are important to us and before long it is too late. Use this time to reflect on what really matters. How do you want to be remembered as a partner, a parent, a friend, in your community, and as a human being? What difference did you make in the lives of others during your lifetime?)
Once you have answered these questions, highlight important terms and note them down. Look at the noted terms for patterns that reflect what is meaningful to you, what is unique about you, and what is your unique purpose. You are now ready to write your mission statement.
If there is anything that has helped you in finding your purpose or if you liked what you read, please leave a comment.
II Writing your mission statement
A good mission statement helps to build authentic communications with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders. It provides a broad framework defining your purpose and values within which you run your business. It is particularly useful in challenging times as a reminder for what the business stands for so people don’t lose sight of what is important. It also provides a unified focus for all members in the organization to move towards a common goal. Communicating your mission statement clearly will help in attracting the right kind of people as your customers, employees, suppliers, and other collaborators.
In order to write down your mission statement, refer to the list you created of terms that reflect what is meaningful to you, what is unique about you, and your unique purpose. Use that list as a guide to write your mission statement. An authentic mission statement has five parts:
1) Your core purpose - the overall mission
2) How will you achieve your purpose - your products and services
3) Who will you benefit - your target market
4) How will you benefit them - specific benefits you provide
5) What is unique about you - your core competencies that make you unique
For a good example see Ben and Jerry’s comprehensive tripartite mission statement including social, product, and economic missions. For a more detailed example, I would like to use the mission statement that I am more intimately informed about because I wrote it for my consulting firm. The mission for iAM Business Consulting reads as follows:
The mission of iAM Business Consulting is to inspire people to recognize their highest potential and give it expression in ways that are meaningful, profitable, and enjoyable (1). We aspire to make innovative marketing and mindfulness tools accessible to all individuals, who may be self-employed or employees (3), so that they can build strong personal brands and market their unique potential in authentic ways (4). Our personal branding services emphasize self-awareness, authentic differentiation, and effective communication using traditional and innovative tools like social networks and social media (4).
Our workshops and consulting services (2) are founded on a combination of research in business, science, and mindfulness to provide new ways of thinking about business challenges (5). While we provide marketing solutions to navigate the external environment successfully, we also promote mindfulness to move with ease and grace in all aspects of our lives (5). We are interested in empowering individuals to live their highest potential (4).
In writing the mission statement, I addressed all five points that are necessary for an authentic and clear communication.
(1) Clearly, the over all purpose is to inspire people to find their purpose and express the purpose profitably.
(2) The specific products include consultancy and workshops.
(3) The target market comprises individuals who may be self-employed or employed in an organization.
(4) The specific benefits to the target market focus on building strong personal brands and marketing their unique potential in authentic ways. Our personal branding services emphasize self-awareness, authentic differentiation, and effective communication using traditional and innovative tools like social networks and social media. We empower individuals to live their highest potential.
(5) And our core competencies comprise an integrated approach founded on a combination of research in business, science, and mindfulness to provide new ways of thinking about business challenges While we provide marketing solutions to navigate the external environment successfully, we also promote mindfulness to move with ease and grace in all aspects of our lives.