The last few years has seen a resurgence in thinking about the age-old question of purpose and the work-life balance. Many organisations have adopted a flexible and hybrid working policy, with employees spending time working from home as well as in the office or working different and staggered hours.
For many of us, this has blurred the lines between work and life, where we now consider both in tandem, rather than things that exist separate to each other. For instance, there have been times in the past few years where I’ve taken time during the day to attend my daughter’s sports day and then worked later in the evening to ensure my work gets completed. For me, and for many others that I have spoken to, this is a liberating new way to live our lives.
This balance leads to contemplating our purpose in life – what is it that we are trying to achieve in our career, and in our life? Simon Sinek shared a transformative notion in his book Start with Why, first published back in 2009. In his book, Sinek argues that it doesn’t matter what you do, but why you do it. Without purpose, it’s harder to find motivation and drive to keep going.
So, how can you identify your purpose?
Here are some practical tips to help you:
- Think about what your passions and interests are. What area of your life, when you speak about it, makes you come alive? What topics are you interested in?
- Think about your beliefs and values. What is important for you? Are you principled? Do you have strong beliefs that are important to you?
- Think about what you are skilled at and what talents you have. What comes naturally to you? What are you known for?
- Think beyond yourself. What impact do you want to create in the world? What do you want to be known for? What legacy do you want to leave in the world?
- Finally, ask others. If you have a few ideas, run it past a few close family members or friends and see what they think you would be suited to.
When considering our purpose, we need to also think about how practical it would be to find a role that fits. Essentially, we are employed or contracted to solve a problem by an organisation. So, think about what jobs can be done that align to your values and gives you that sense of purpose.
Project management as a purposeful career
Having undertaken exercise myself, I found a career in project management to be a very fulfilling profession and one that helps my sense of purpose. It requires a great deal of collaboration, effective planning and monitoring of the project, programme or portfolio. Life skills such as communication and public speaking are essential, especially when interacting with stakeholders. And ultimately, hopefully, if the project you are delivering also makes a positive impact to society, you are positively impacting others through your work.
I personally need fulfilling projects to keep me motivated and give me more purpose. And when you find alignment with your own personal values, and the aims and aspirations of the project, there are hardly any other career paths more rewarding.
In terms of work-life balance, to be honest, it sometimes can be difficult to ‘switch off’ from the project when you are so invested in its success. The level of motivation and drive to deliver a project that is aligned with your values makes it difficult to step away!
However, the key to ensuring a good work-life balance in a project management role is by having a great team around you. Through this team you build resilience in the project to stay on track and deliver successfully. It’s also vital to have trust in your team. So when you want to take a two-week holiday with your family, you have a team in place who you have entrusted and empowered to continue delivering in your absence.
The importance of finding purpose in life has gained prominence over the past decade as more people search for a good work-life balance. It’s important to think deeply about this so that you can ensure your career is aligned to your purpose.
In my experience, few career paths can rival project management in the depth and breadth of skills that you learn, the relationships that you foster and the positive impacts you create in society, thus making it an excellent career path which (with the right projects and environment) can help you live a purposeful life.
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