Working on purpose

How often do you start off the working week full of good intentions? You fully intend giving your best and getting the most out of the day. But what happens? Too many of us become distracted by short term crises, other people’s to do lists, or we just lose focus and get bored. We don’t do it deliberately, but we can often leave the day feeling exhausted, frustrated and disappointed. We vow to do better tomorrow but instead we spend our lives trying to catch up.

Giving your best it is all about working “on purpose”.   That means, being clear about what you are doing and why.  What the end goal is, and being able to bring your skills and talents to the job so that you are your best self.  It is about working in a way which fits with who you are and how you see yourself, what you want to bring to the role and where you want to go in life.

purpose / ˈpəːpəs/ noun:

  1. the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. “the purpose of the meeting is to appoint a trustee”
  2. a person’s sense of resolve or determination. “there was a new sense of purpose in her step as she set off”

Here are some tips for staying on purpose so you can bring your best self to work every day.

Find an environment which is fit for purpose

Select the right environment to work on purpose

Ensure that your workspace is inspiring, comfortable and fit for purpose. It is difficult to bring your best self to somewhere you don’t want to be or surrounded by people who distract rather than support you.

Where do you need to be to work on purpose?  Do you need to find different work spaces for different tasks? For example,  an office for when the energy of others will keep you going, the library for analysis or proof reading?

Design the ideal week for the purposeful version of you and do it

What do you have to do to be successful  in your work? What does being on purpose look like? How would someone be able to spot you being “on purpose”? For example, would they see you scrolling endlessly through social media?  Possibly, but only if you are a social media guru!  What could you be doing?  Who would you be talking to and what sort of conversations would you be having?  What would a working week on purpose have in store for you?

Remember what you are great at

Too often we spend our time on the things we feel we should do or that others have told us to do but which don’t serve our aims or even fit with our role.  We might not even be that great at them.  Challenge colleagues by asking “what is that you think I can bring to this task?” or ask yourself “what value am I generating to my business as a graphic designer by e.g. tearing my hair out over my tax return?”

“There is a certain amount of dissatisfaction that goes with knowing your time, talent and abilities are not being properly used” – Zig Ziglar

Get clear on your values

Aligning what you do with your value set is critical if you are stay on purpose so get in touch with your values and work out if they are being expressed in what you do and how you do it.   You also need to believe that you can achieve your goals, that you are resilient, that you have a contribution to make, and that you are up to the task. Conviction is essential to working on purpose.  The alternative to holding true to your convictions is a) allowing yourself to be hijacked by those people who do believe in themselves and are prepared to engage others to fulfil their ambition or b) holding back and letting the competition get there first – creating a big dent in your self belief.

Hey there, Mr. Grumpy Gills. When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do?  Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim. —Dory, Finding Nemo

Develop your identity

Credit: Marvin D. Lynchard

Our sense of identity makes a big difference to what we do and how we do it. For example, if you see yourself as a “manager in waiting” you are more likely to behave like a manager.  The conversations I have when I present myself as a coach are very different to the ones I have when I show up as the owner of a coaching business.  How do you want to show up in the world?  When you know the answer to that question, you will become a whole lot clearer on what you need to do with your time and who you need to talk to.

What’s your purpose?

Finally, if you are really going to work on purpose then a sense of purpose is vital. What is it all for? Why are you bothering to get up in the morning? Losing touch with the “why” really gets in the way of the “what” and the “how”.

“People who use time wisely spend it on activities that advance their overall purpose in life” – John C Maxwell

As an employee, you may find that you share the purpose of your department or organisation but when you work for yourself, you often have to dig deep to stay motivated and keep plugging away to get results.  So ask yourself “what it is all for?” and keep the answer in the forefront of your mind as you plan your day.  Some company mission statements may help you if your struggle with this:

Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”

TED: “Spread ideas”

Shirley, The Change Agent: “to inspire people to discover all that they are capable of being and doing and have the courage to realise that potential for the benefit of themselves, their loved ones, their colleagues and the wider community”


This is what it means to work on purpose.  In my view, this is how you can stay focused and motivated and bring your best self to your work.  You can’t manage time but you can manage yourself and, to a greater or lesser degree, you can decide where to direct your attention.  If you want to explore this further, then come to my workshop in Swindon on 5th March, or message me for a free clarity call to find out how my 121 coaching programmes can help you.


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