I promise, it really is possible to discover your life's purpose

How To Discover Your Life’s Purpose

If you ask people if they know what their life’s purpose is, you're likely to only receive answers from a few. It's common to feel dissatisfied with life and to believe that your life lacks purpose and meaning. But I promise, it really is possible to discover your life’s purpose.

In this article, I provide 3 steps you can take to discover your life’s purpose. If you would like help working through these steps, please contact me.

What is Purpose?

The Macquarie Dictionary defines purpose as:

“the object for which anything exists or is done, made, used, etc.”

I believe this definition applies just as much to human beings as it does to objects.

Why go to the trouble of Discovering Your Purpose?

I firmly believe that If you discover your purpose, you will discover the thing you are made to do. If you live out your purpose, You will enjoy the life you were created to live, and be your happiest and most fulfilled.

How To Discover Your Purpose

I believe that there are three steps that you need to take to discover your purpose. They are:

  1. Examine your present
  2. Examine your past, and
  3. Examine your passions or dreams

Examining Your Present

Examining your present is vital because it shows you where you are, much like the “You Are Here” arrow on a map. Like navigating with a map or GPS, you need to know where you are before you can decipher how to get where you want to go.

Wen examining your present:

  • reflect on as many areas of your life as possible, such as career, relationships, environment, hobbies and interests, values, faith, and finances
  • pay particular attention to what is working for you right now and what isn’t
  • consider why each thing or area of life is or is not working, and what you would like to change.

Examining your past

If you look at your past from the outside, through the eyes of a keen observer, you will notice patterns of thought, reactions to various situations, likes, dislikes, and preferences. If you examine your past with a reflective, questioning mind, you will begin to see the “why” behind some of these patterns, which will point you towards your purpose.

When examining your past:

  • reflect on as many areas of your life as possible (see above for examples)
  • pay particular attention to what worked for you and what didn’t
  • consider why each thing or area of life did or didn’t work, and what you would have liked to change.

Examining Your Passions and Dreams

Your passions can give you insight into what your purpose might be, and your dreams can give you clues about how you might like to live out your purpose.

When examining your passions and dreams, reflect upon questions such as:

  • what do you cry about, or what breaks your heart?
  • what, if you did it every day, would cause you to wake up with excitement and enthusiasm?
  • what makes you want to jump for joy, even just thinking about it?
  • what have you always wanted to do or be?

If you need help working through these steps, please contact me.

In this blog post, I will describe what happened to me when my agency was suddenly downsized, and will offer some tips on how to take the catastrophe out of redundancy. When the Commonwealth Public Service job cuts started in late 2013, I used to laugh when people would ask me if I was worried about redundancy. “of course not,” I would say, “the government will always need legislative drafters. And besides, I’m blind, a woman., and a union delegate. They wouldn’t dare!” I couldn’t have been more wrong. One day, we were all called into a meeting and were told that our agency was going to cut the number of legislative drafters by half. We would all be interviewed for our current jobs, and those who were ranked in the top 50 % would keep their employment. The rest would be offered voluntary redundancies. After the meeting, I shut myself in my office and just sat there for half an hour, sipping water. I couldn’t think, and all my bravado had disappeared. Then the questions flooded in – why should I have to apply for a job that I already applied for and won? What happens if I’m not in the top 50 %? Should I take a package, or take my chances trying to find a job during the redeployment period? What happens if I can’t find a job? How will I pay the mortgage? Know That Your redundancy is not the catastrophe it feels like If you have just found out that you may be made redundant, I promise you you’ll get through it. I’m living proof! It may feel like the roof is falling in, but it’s just creaking ominously overhead, and you’ll be OK. When Applying For Jobs Give It Your All A couple of weeks after the announcement, I had to reapply for my job. I really struggled with the injustice of this, as I had applied for and won my job on merit 7 years before, and felt that I had gained 7 years of valuable experience, and was really quite good at my job. I fell into the trap of feeling that I didn’t really need to justify my case for keeping my job. When I had applied for, and won, jobs in the past, I had always approached the application and interview processes with the attitude that “this job is mine, and if I don’t get it, it’s my fault for not making the panel understand that I am the best person for this job” Unfortunately I wasn’t able to write my application with this attitude. The interview was even worse, and by the end, I almost felt like getting down on my knees and begging to stay. I hadn’t put my whole heart into the process, and this is one of the reasons why I was not successful in keeping my job. So, if you have to go through a “spill and fill” process as I did, or you decide to apply for another job, apply for it as if your life depended on it. Build up your belief in yourself, and convince yourself, and the panel, that you are the only one who can do this job. Give it your whole heart! Join Your Union I can’t tell you how grateful I was for the support of the CPSU. From the time I found out I had to reapply for my job until my last day at work, they were in almost daily contact with me, keeping me updated, and just seeing how I was. They also advised me on the interpretation of my Workplace Agreement, which was extremely helpful. The good thing is, even if you hadn’t been a union member like I had, you can always join as soon as you find out that things aren’t going as expected, and you will get help and support from day one of your membership. Consider All Your Options As I had not been successful in keeping my Job, I had to decide whether to take a voluntary redundancy, or stay on the redeployment list for up to 3 months until a job was found for me. Both options terrified me. I’d I’d specialised and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to go back to general law work, and there was a job freeze on at the time, so new jobs were few and far between. I was offered the opportunity to join a friend’s network marketing business, and this was the first time that I considered that perhaps I could do something outside of Government. With the help of a coach, I used an online tool called Career Storm Navigator, to assess my skills, strengths, values, style and goals, and consider what careers would suit me. It was only then that I realised just how many options I had. I am now licensed to guide others through this tool, so please contact me if this interests you. Seek Financial Advice This is extremely important, whether you are considering taking a voluntary redundancy or not. Make sure that you get advice from someone who is qualified in both tax and superannuation matters. There are agencies who are not linked with superannuation companies, but who can provide unbiased advice. I used Stateplus for my superannuation advice, and Lifestyle Advisers for my tax and other financial advice. Make A Budget I looked at my finances over the previous two years, and worked out what I could do without, for a substantial period of time, and what I couldn’t. By the end, I had worked out, down to the last cent, what I could sensibly live on. This will show you how long your savings will support you while you look for work, and will also give you a good idea of the minimum income you will need to earn. Find Good Coping Mechanisms The period between the day I found out that I had not been successful in keeping my job, and the day I accepted my voluntary redundancy were extremely hard. I was feeling all sorts of emotions ranging from depression and rejection to anger and loneliness, and the reactions of my colleagues towards me were equally varied. My employer had an Employee Assistance Program, and I was able to obtain free counselling from them, and was given some great coping strategies. So see if your employer has such a program, and get in touch with your Employee Assistance Program provider for help. Take Advantage Of Everything That Is available To You Look closely at the provisions of your Workplace Agreement as this will provide for any entitlements you may be eligible for when facing redundancy I was, for example, able to get reimbursed for the cost of obtaining financial advice, and my employer also paid for some short retraining courses that interested me. This May be An Opportunity For A fresh Start At the time, I felt that my redundancy was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. Now, looking back, it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Why redundancy was the push I needed to follow my dreams and start my own business. What Next? If you are facing redundancy or job loss and don’t know what to do next, please just reach out to me.

How To Take The Catastrophe Out Of Redundancy

In this blog post, I will describe what happened to me when my agency was suddenly downsized, and will offer some tips on how to take the catastrophe out of redundancy.

When the Commonwealth Public Service job cuts started in late 2013, I used to laugh when people would ask me if I was worried about redundancy. “of course not,” I would say, “the government will always need legislative drafters. And besides, I’m blind, a woman., and a union delegate. They wouldn’t dare!” I couldn’t have been more wrong.

One day, we were all called into a meeting and were told that our agency was going to cut the number of legislative drafters by half. We would all be interviewed for our current jobs, and those who were ranked in the top 50 % would keep their employment. The rest would be offered voluntary redundancies.

After the meeting, I shut myself in my office and just sat there for half an hour, sipping water. I couldn’t think, and all my bravado had disappeared.

Then the questions flooded in – why should I have to apply for a job that I already applied for and won? What happens if I’m not in the top 50 %? Should I take a package, or take my chances trying to find a job during the redeployment period? What happens if I can’t find a job? How will I pay the mortgage?

Know That Your redundancy is not the catastrophe it feels like

If you have just found out that you may be made redundant, I promise you you’ll get through it. I’m living proof!

It may feel like the roof is falling in, but it’s just creaking ominously overhead, and you’ll be OK.

When Applying For Jobs Give It Your All

A couple of weeks after the announcement, I had to reapply for my job. I really struggled with the injustice of this, as I had applied for and won my job on merit 7 years before, and felt that I had gained 7 years of valuable experience, and was really quite good at my job. I fell into the trap of feeling that I didn’t really need to justify my case for keeping my job.

When I had applied for, and won, jobs in the past, I had always approached the application and interview processes with the attitude that “this job is mine, and if I don’t get it, it’s my fault for not making the panel understand that I am the best person for this job” Unfortunately I wasn’t able to write my application with this attitude. The interview was even worse, and by the end, I almost felt like getting down on my knees and begging to stay. I hadn’t put my whole heart into the process, and this is one of the reasons why I was not successful in keeping my job.

So, if you have to go through a “spill and fill” process as I did, or you decide to apply for another job, apply for it as if your life depended on it. Build up your belief in yourself, and convince yourself, and the panel, that you are the only one who can do this job. Give it your whole heart!

Join Your Union

I can’t tell you how grateful I was for the support of the CPSU. From the time I found out I had to reapply for my job until my last day at work, they were in almost daily contact with me, keeping me updated, and just seeing how I was. They also advised me on the interpretation of my Workplace Agreement, which was extremely helpful.

The good thing is, even if you hadn’t been a union member like I had, you can always join as soon as you find out that things aren’t going as expected, and you will get help and support from day one of your membership.

Consider All Your Options

As I had not been successful in keeping my Job, I had to decide whether to take a voluntary redundancy, or stay on the redeployment list for up to 3 months until a job was found for me. Both options terrified me. I’d I’d specialised and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to go back to general law work, and there was a job freeze on at the time, so new jobs were few and far between.

I was offered the opportunity to join a friend’s network marketing business, and this was the first time that I considered that perhaps I could do something outside of Government.

With the help of a coach, I used an online tool called Career Storm Navigator, to assess my skills, strengths, values, style and goals, and consider what careers would suit me. It was only then that I realised just how many options I had. I am now licensed to guide others through this tool, so please contact me if this interests you.

Seek Financial Advice

This is extremely important, whether you are considering taking a voluntary redundancy or not. Make sure that you get advice from someone who is qualified in both tax and superannuation matters. There are agencies who are not linked with superannuation companies, but who can provide unbiased advice. I used Stateplus for my superannuation advice, and Lifestyle Advisers for my tax and other financial advice.

Make A Budget

I looked at my finances over the previous two years, and worked out what I could do without, for a substantial period of time, and what I couldn’t. By the end, I had worked out, down to the last cent, what I could sensibly live on. This will show you how long your savings will support you while you look for work, and will also give you a good idea of the minimum income you will need to earn.

Find Good Coping Mechanisms

The period between the day I found out that I had not been successful in keeping my job, and the day I accepted my voluntary redundancy were extremely hard. I was feeling all sorts of emotions ranging from depression and rejection to anger and loneliness, and the reactions of my colleagues towards me were equally varied.

My employer had an Employee Assistance Program, and I was able to obtain free counselling from them, and was given some great coping strategies. So see if your employer has such a program, and get in touch with your Employee Assistance Program provider for help.

Take Advantage Of Everything That Is available To You

Look closely at the provisions of your Workplace Agreement as this will provide for any entitlements you may be eligible for when facing redundancy I was, for example, able to get reimbursed for the cost of obtaining financial advice, and my employer also paid for some short retraining courses that interested me.

This May be An Opportunity For A fresh Start

At the time, I felt that my redundancy was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. Now, looking back, it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Why redundancy was the push I needed to follow my dreams and start my own business.

What Next?

If you are facing redundancy or job loss and don’t know what to do next, please just reach out to me.

Unhappy looking woman looking over her shoulder at a man who is speaking harshly to her

Bullying At Work, and What I Learned

What is Bullying?

Safe Work Australia defines bullying as:

“repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed to a worker or group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety”.

Bullying can include such behaviours as:

  • Abusive or offensive language or comments;
  • aggressive and intimidating behaviour;
  • belittling or humiliating comments;
  • practical jokes or initiation; and
  • unjustified criticism or complaints.

Reasonable management action taken in a reasonable way is not bullying.

My experiencE of Being Bullied At Work

I was bullied at work in the mid 2000’s. I didn’t recognise it as such until afterwards, when a friend put the name “bullying” to what I was describing.

The person doing the bullying was my then supervisor. Let’s call her Veronica for the purposes of this article.

Veronica worked part time, and had Tuesdays and Wednesdays off. She would often give me a large piece of work to do, some time on Monday, and ask me to have it completed before 5pm Monday.

This often put me under extraordinary pressure, as the work was more than could reasonably be completed in the short time available. But I comforted myself with the thought that perhaps Veronica was requesting this so that she could look at the work whilst she was at home.

However, I found out that Veronica very rarely took my work home, and it usually would sit on her desk until she got back on Thursday. So, the deadlines were arbitrary and unnecessary.

Once I did receive the work back, there were often many criticisms, and I would usually have to completely rewrite it. Veronica would often tell me that I had not followed her instructions. She would say that she had asked me to do X, but my clear recollection was that she had asked me to do Y, which was quite different.

I could seem to do nothing right. I found this quite distressing, as I am someone who pays careful attention to verbal instructions, and will ask questions to clarify anything I don’t understand.

I eventually refused to take verbal instructions from Veronica, and would only accept instructions in writing, so I had written proof of what she had asked me to do. This made things a little better. However, Veronica then sometimes would replace my name on work with hers, without my knowledge, and then take credit for the work at meetings. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when Veronica referred to me one day as her “worker bee”, which made me feel completely worthless.

My distress and anxiety increased over the months, until it got so bad that I would get chest pains whenever I heard Veronica enter the office first thing in the morning. The first time this happened, I thought I was having a heart attack! Thankfully though, it turned out to be stress related heartburn, for which I had to take medication for many months.

How I Handled It

I took a course on emotional intelligence, mainly to get out of the office for the day. The facilitator, Barbara Miller, was an organisational psychologist and a life coach, and so I asked her to take me on as a client to help me cope with what was going on at work.

Over a number of months, I worked with Barbara on rebuilding my shattered self-esteem, and implementing techniques for coping with stress. I learned that my value as a person wasn’t dependent on what others thought of me, but what I thought of myself. I started reciting positive affirmations to myself about my ability and my value during the bus journey to and from work each day. Finally, I began to really believe again that I was a person of value, who had something worthy to contribute.

After 3 months of coaching, I had the strength to do what I knew I had to do. I knocked on Veronica’s door, marched into her office, and told her that “her management style was making me ill”. I said that I would not work with her anymore, and that whilst I looked for another job, I would like to be transferred to another section and work with a different supervisor. Thankfully, she agreed.

I am so grateful to Barbara, and for the work we did together. It saved my sanity, and gave me the strength to get another job, where I worked happily for a number of years. It also taught me about the importance of drawing upon my own beliefs as the main source of my self-esteem, rather than relying entirely on others to make me feel good, or bad, about myself.

What You Can Do If You Are Being Bullied At Work

If you don’t want to do what I did and change jobs, you have a number of options.

Safe work Australia has a good page on bullying here. This page suggests:

  • Examining your workplace’s bullying policy and reporting procedure;
  • Asking the bully to stop their bullying behaviour;
  • Seeking advice from another person such as a supervisor, human resources officer or workplace health and safety representative (links to these are provided on the Safe work Australia Page);
  • Contacting your State Work Health and Safety Authority;
  • Contacting the Fair Work Commission; or
  • Contacting the Australian Human Rights Commission.

I would add to this list, contacting your union if you are a member.

Most importantly, please remember that you are not alone. Seek support where ever you can, from family, friends, colleagues or even a coach as I did. Please also, look after yourself.

Editors NoteThis post was first published on 3 June 2016, and has since been edited to update and expand upon the information in the original post.

Could You Be Living Someone Else’s Dream?

If you discover your life's purpose and live it out, you will be living your dream, and work will never feel like work again

 

 

Consider what you do each day. Are you following your passion and doing what you love?

If not, are you following in the footsteps of a relative and doing what they did? Are you doing a job that someone said you’d be good at, or would earn you lots of money? If the answer to either of the last 2 questions is “yes”, it’s possible you may be living someone else’s dream.

Searching for my dream

In high school, I had the opportunity to do work experience with a physiotherapist, and I loved it. So, I structured my Years 11 and 12 subjects to qualify me for entry into Physiotherapy studies at university.

None of the Australian physiotherapy schools would take me back then, due to my total blindness. So I enrolled in the North London School of Physiotherapy in the UK, a school specially designed to train blind physiotherapists.

It’s a long and complicated story, which I won’t go into here, but after 4 months at the school, I was advised to return to Australia and study something more academic. I remember sitting, broken hearted, in my Aunt’s lounge room in England, and asking her what I should do. I had been so focused on becoming a physiotherapist, that I had no other ideas about what to do with the rest of my life.

My Aunt said: “You’ve got a good brain, why don’t you study law?”

I didn’t know the first thing about lawyers, or what they did, but I returned to Australia and obtained a combined Commerce Law degree.

Fortunately, I enjoyed studying, and working in the legal profession. In fact, I worked as a Government lawyer for 17, mostly happy, years. However, while I didn’t realise this at the time, being a lawyer wasn’t my dream, but my Aunt’s.

Like many other people, I got up every day and went to work, and enjoyed what I did. But I always envied those people I would see on TV who were following their passion. They would say things like: “I work 18 hours a day, but I love it so much, it doesn’t feel like work”, “It’s what gets me up in the morning” and “At last, I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do”.

Discovering My life’s Purpose

After taking a redundancy and running a network marketing business, I retrained as a John C Maxwell speaker and coach.

As I started coaching clients, and did a little speaking, people began to say how I encouraged and inspired them. This puzzled me at first, as I was just being myself, but I eventually realised that to inspire and encourage others is my life’s purpose.

My dream is to inspire and encourage others, through speaking, coaching and writing, to discover their life’s purpose. I love what I’m doing. work doesn’t feel like work as I’m following my passion and living my dream.

Discover your life’s purpose and live your dream

If you are living your dream, fantastic! Please comment and tell me about it.

If not, have you adopted someone else’s dream and made it fit? Wouldn’t you rather discover your life’s purpose, and live your own dream? Comment with “Purpose” and I’ll send you some information on how you can do this.

Editor’s NoteI

This post was originally published on 18 July 2016, but has since been updated.