If you’re anything like me, being asked with pseudo-earnestness, “what’s your purpose?” might have you power eye-rolling and reaching for a sick bucket. It’s not the idea, of course I believe in the importance of that, more the terminology that I find jarring - the sickly-sweet, holier-than-thou, loaded gall of the phrase. (Hypocrite warning, worth saying on the contrary that my business partner Joel and I have spent hours and hours on distilling our Heights' purpose!)
It always felt too big, too lofty a concept - like everyone is ever-searching for this immense PURPOSE, which upon its finding will make every other aspect of life fall magically into place, and you get to join the smug enlightened posse in all their know-it-allness.
The only question you need to ask yourself, is why. Knowing why you’re doing something is enough. If you have a reason for your actions, that’s all you need to get alllll the benefits. Of which there are many:
● Lowers your emotional reaction to bad things
Knowing what your broader aims are means you are less likely to get wound up in trivialities, or bumps in the road. Stress is unavoidable, but according to Anthony Burrow, a developmental psychologist and director of the Purpose and Identity Processes Laboratory at Cornell University - “the key difference between those with purpose, and those with less purpose appears to be in their response. Stressful days are simply less emotionally disruptive to individuals with greater purpose.”
What’s the health benefit? Well, emotional responses to stress trigger inflammation, heart rate variability, chronic health conditions, and even risk of death.
● Makes your self-worth less reliant on others’ approval
Having a sense of purpose can protect your self-esteem from the havoc of social media. In this decidedly weird world we live in of follows and likes, and the loaded meanings behind them - knowing why you’re doing what you're doing makes them matter less.
● Earns you more £££
In a study that surveyed people from 1995 to 2006, they found that a sense of purpose was linked to a higher net worth. In two interviews over the 10-year period, participants were asked about their sense of purpose, personality traits, life satisfaction, household income, and net worth. Those who reported a strong sense of purpose earned almost $3000 more a year than those who didn’t, and were more likely to up their financial status between interviews.
A purpose, a reason, a why - whatever way you put it - it’s good to have.