When I talk with pet professionals about their work and why it matters, one phrase comes up over and over:
"I help ..."
That's no surprise. Part of your brain is wired toward helping others.
When you help, your brain releases the "happiness trifecta," a combination of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, which boosts your mood, movement, and motivation.
Perhaps you say, "I help pets stay healthy, so they can have long, happy lives," or maybe, "I help people better understand their dogs, so their training is more effective."
Whatever it is that you do, odds are that you are helping improve a situation for someone else. That's your purpose.
Now to be clear, I don't think it's your obligation to help others. Having a purpose fills you up; feeling obligated drags you down. It's important to understand the difference so you can make real-time adjustments to protect your mood, motivation, and boundaries.
Zach Mercurio, author of The Invisible Leader, also distinguishes between "being purposeful" and searching for your magical, mystical, capital-P Purpose.
It's okay to not be fully clear on your Purpose right now.
But it's worth thinking about.
Start with this question: What is my contribution?
Purpose often reveals itself in moments of stress or crisis.
When things are challenging at work, what do you do that helps make them better? How does your participation change things? What problems do you solve?
When things don't turn out as you hoped, take time for reflection to uncover learning opportunities and opportunities for growth.
Zach recommends a simple strategy for getting started. Take 2 minutes in the morning to answer these questions:
- If I were feeling my purpose, what would I be doing?
- If I were feeling my purpose, what would I be thinking?
- How can I do that today?
The create a simple scorecard to track your progress. These two minutes of thought and intention can reframe your whole day.
If you enjoyed this episode, you'll be sure to like this episode with Fiia Jokela on empathy!