I have a question for you: What is your purpose?
Before we go into that, let me share why this is on my mind. What I share here will sound obvious, but it’s something I rarely share.
As the CEO and founder of JibberJobber, I have various defined purposes (or, The Why), for things we do.
- Why do I spend money on my programmers?
- Why do I spend money on my QA?
- Why do I spend money on marketing?
- Why do we work on this project instead of that project?
- Why do I work on Pluralsight videos?
These, and many more questions, always come back to a principled purpose. When I recently started working with my new UX designer (Udie Chima), he asked a question similar to this: “What is the reason we are making these changes?” My answer came easily because for the last few years I had been sharing it with my development team. The purpose of any design and development we do in JibberJobber is four-fold:
- To encourage people who come to JibberJobber to actually signup (measurable: increase signups)
- To encourage people who signup to actually use JibberJobber (measurable: increase users)
- To encourage people who use JibberJobber to upgrade (measurable: increase upgrades)
- And, a new purpose, to encourage people who come to JibberJobber to watch my Pluralsight video courses (measurable: increased number of hours viewed)
Throughout the design process with Udie, he would come back to any of those purposes. When he presented his proposal for a revised home page, once you are logged in, to my team, he emphasized what specific elements were designed to increase any of those four things (focusing on #2).
His proposal was very purpose-driven. I’m sure that having clearly defined goals, or purposes, helped him as he conceptualized the design. Add a new widget? The question is “WHY?” If it helps us hand-hold a new signup so they can become a user, then let’s consider it. If it does not, then it falls lower on the list or priorities.
The purpose becomes your standard, helping you make decisions. It is closely aligned with guiding principles (ours are to empower people, as we treat them with respect, while building a sustainable business).
Back to you: What is your (career) purpose?
Is your purpose to “find a job?” If so, it is not that hard to do. But… check out this article: 5 of America’s fastest growing jobs pay less than $25k. Great, you have a job, but you make $2k a month. Maybe that is fine, but for many people (and breadwinners) that is barely enough to pay for 1/2 of your living expenses, much less any leisure.
Is your purpose to “change the world?” How will you do that? Everyone wants to… some do it on a macro level, some on a micro level, but many just miss altogether because they are waiting for “that thing” to happen before they start changing the world, all the while neglecting themselves.
Is your purpose to “find a place in society again?” This speaks to losing a job, and losing your identity… and is kind of an act of desparation. You might be more driven to get a status/title back than to have the right income, role, or influence.
Is your purpose to “use your degree?” While I was in school I heard that 75% of graduates ended up working in a field NOT related to their major. Just because you got a degree in something you thought you were interested in or passionate about doesn’t mean you have to work in that field.
Is your purpose to “follow your passion?” If your passion is immoral, unethical, or simply unmonetizable, you might have to get a day job to pay your bills, and the follow your passion in your off hours. Not that I’m advocating immoral or unethical :p
Is your purpose to “make a lot of money and prepare for retirement?” Nothing wrong with that, but I’m guessing that there are other things you could do to make a lot more money than you have… for example, sales, realty, recruiting, investment banking, consulting, or other things that normally scare the heck out of people, to the point where they get a more comfortable job, earning less than they could. Not to mention, if that is your purpose, then when you get off work you should either (a) go to another job, or (b) work on your side business, since you are out to make more money. Nothing wrong with any of those, unless you do it while sacrificing your other obligations and relationships.
Is your purpose to “continually learn?” The problem with this is that learning can be an excuse to put off the rest of life. I hated how professors at school would say “in the real world,” meaning “when you graduate and get a job.” The idea was that we were in some sheltered bubble and didn’t know a thing about how the world turned, how to have professional responsibility, etc. They really thought we were putting off life for a few years while we sat around pontificating, playing socrates and Aristotle? I’m all for learning, but don’t fall into the trap of someone I knew, nearing 40, who’s goal it was to die before he left university (lest the student loans would catch up with him, and he’d have to get a job).
I have heard each of these… but as you can tell, I want you to dig deeper.
My personal purpose looks something like this:
“As a father and husband, I provide for my family so we can pay all of our bills, and have money left over for our family to have experiences and buy things that we want to give us an enjoyable, rewarding, rich, and nurturing life. I model a work ethic and attitude that inspires my children (and our friends and associates) so they can have hope in their future as they prepare to earn a living, and change the world . As an entrepreneur, I work to create a suite of resources (including JibberJobber, learning courses, blog posts, etc.) to empower people in their life and career, helping individuals and (their families) with tools and hope, as they live a richer life.”
When you have a purpose, even if it evolves, it’s easier to make decisions in life (big and small), aligned with your purpose.
And, as I mentioned earlier, consider the principles you abide by (or, your guiding principles), and come up with a purpose statement that you can work with and live by for many years to come.