Having a life purpose contributes to your wellbeing and performance

Mr Damian Panozza

A clear and strong link to your life purpose helps to build your wellbeing and aids with performance in a number of ways. Many sources can derive purpose, including stemming from humanity (humanistic), from God (religious or spiritual), from being (existential) or from life (self-transcendent). In addition to purpose contributing a general positive effect toward increased wellbeing, it also has a specific positive impact on building adaptability intelligence (AQ) in several aspects.

Firstly, purpose contributes to increased resilience. Our view of resilience is that it is a process, not something that you either have or do not. As such, we term it Refocussed Resilience, and define it as ‘The capacity to quickly recover or bounce back from setbacks (life’s difficulties/adversity)’. The psychological mechanism for bouncing back from setbacks is by reframing them by referencing against a strong connection with purpose. Setbacks diminish in perspective when viewed against a long-term life or career goal.

Additionally, through a strong link with purpose one builds a higher Tolerance to Failure that we define as ‘The capacity to endure making mistakes, or being disappointed about not achieving an intended goal, and to see such things as opportunity’. Reframing disappointments or mistakes as opportunities is achieved by referencing against purpose and allows a person to bounce back quickly, viewing failure as merely an opportunity to learn and not as an absolute.

Victor Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived the WW2 Nazi concentration camps, wrote about the importance that purpose has on human motivation and wellbeing in his highly acclaimed book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. Victor observed that having a life purpose was a notable difference between those who survived the holocaust and many who gave up and perished. After the war, Victor built on previous works of Freud and Adler to develop a successful therapeutic approach to overcoming depression and suicidal thoughts which he called ‘Logotherapy’, that based its approach on realising meaning in life.

There are many ways to identify your life’s purpose, and each requires self-searching:

  1. Journaling: Asking yourself the question why am I doing this and journaling the answers is a good way to learn about your motivations. Each time you arrive at a different answer, then ask yourself and why is that important to me. Eventually, you arrive at a higher-level life purpose.
  2. Practising Meditation allows a person to find stillness and quiet in their mind. It is in those moments that inspiration from your unconscious is heard by the conscious mind.
  3. The practice of Ikigai is a Japanese tradition that roughly translates to living a life that is valuable. You can find your purpose by considering and combining the answers to these four questions; 1) What do I love doing, 2) What does the world need, 3) What will the world pay for, and 4) What am I good at.

This is the third in our series on AQ, read part 1 and 2 below.

AQ, the secret ingredient to collaboration
Leadership and Adaptability Quotient (AQ): Moving from EQ to AQ

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