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What is your purpose?

Have you read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl?

It is one of those books which makes you stop and think about yourself, your life, your view of the world. For me, it is a must read book for anyone who has ever asked themselves….. “what is my purpose?” or “what difference do I make in the world?”.

Victor Frankl was a survivor of the Holocaust (he died in 1997). In his book, he describes how the experience of being a prisoner of war in a concentration camp for 3 years led him to a realisation about the importance of finding meaning in every situation, even the most distressing, vile, torturous kind of situation like the one he experienced.

To me, it is inspiring that someone can find a reason to live in the kind of environment where most people would give up and surrender to their fate. That even when there appears to be nothing to hope for, they can stay focused on something that gives them the strength to pull themselves out of despair and into hope.

In this 5th blog on Building Resilience, I’d like to encourage you to explore your meaning and purpose. What is it that drives you? What is your passion? What gives you a buzz?

If you can identify that thing, I believe it can help you grow your resilience and help you through the challenging events that you may be facing right now or in the future.

Frankl talks about a “provisional existence”. In which you have no goals or end to aim for. Where you are treading water, not moving forward, but just managing to keep your head above water. He says that this is how many of his fellow prisoners lived their time in the camp.

I wonder if you have ever felt as though you are living a “provisional existence”? If you have ever  felt as though your life was on a treadmill, with each day passing, similar to the one before and your focus was on mearly getting through each day then perhaps you were missing meaning and purpose at that time. Perhaps if you have been made redundant, if you are in a job that you hate, if you have lost someone close to you, if your life has got into such a routine that every day seems the same or if you just feel as though you have lost your focus….maybe you are living a provisional existence.

I love this quote – “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how. So, when you find a why, it gives you a new focus and a strength with which to move forward. In the camp, Frankl saw that the people who lost sight of their why where the ones who succumbed to infection. The fact that he survived and lived for many years afterwards, demonstrates (amongst other things) a resilience, a strength of mind and an ability to overcome challenges, that we can all learn from.

That is why I wanted to finish this series on Building Resilience by posing the question “what is your purpose?”. To encourage you to identify the “why” in your life which will gives you the focus and the reason to keep going when you face challenges or difficulties, to bounce back from set-backs and to maintain your mental and physical well-being.

So, how do you identify your why? Here are some questions to consider. Grab a pen and paper and make some notes as you go. Don’t over analyse your answers, just write down whatever comes to mind. Then go and do something else for half an hour and when you come back to your notes, look and see what connections or themes you can see.

  • what is the thing that, when you talk about it, people tell you that you light up?
  • what is the thing that you could not live without?
  • what captures and holds your attention?
  • what is the thing which gives you a sense of confidence?
  • what makes you feel good about yourself?
  • what, if you achieved it tomorrow, make you feel as though your life had been worthwile?

You may not come up with a definitive answer immediately but what you have done is given your subconscious food for thought. So, over the next few days and weeks be prepared to start to notice the “why” in your life showing up. Sometimes in random places and at odd times. Just have your eyes and ears open and you will start to notice the “why” which you can use as an anchor at times when your resilience is tested.

If you would like to explore your purpose in more depth and would like some support in finding your “why” then please get in touch and we can arrange a 1:1 session.

If you enjoyed this blog then take a look at the rest in this series over on Youtube.

You will also find useful tools on our Free Resources page, feel free to take a look.

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