At some point in your career or business, you’re probably wondered where you’re going or why you’re going there. As human beings, each of us seeks meaning in what we do in life. At certain points of our lives, we may also look for a higher purpose to what we do for work.
Here are 12 action items that can get you closer to understanding what drives you or to shift your habits and work with more focus, purpose and drive.
1. Articulate your own mission.
You may have a mission for your company, but do you have a mission for your life? Both missions may be intertwined, and that’s okay as long as you can separate yourself from your business when it is necessary. Write down a clear and concise personal mission statement that is the ruler by which you measure all of your actions.
2. Be picky.
Your mission statement is an overlay to the way you conduct yourself in business and how you choose everything from clients and projects to the services or products you offer. When faced with a choice in business, be more discerning. Go back to your company and personal mission statements and measure your choices against them. If something – or someone – is off mission, don’t be afraid to walk away.
3. Be accountable.
For some, the best way to stay on track is to have an accountability partner or team – others who can hear your mission and vision and check in with you at regular intervals to see how you’re staying the course. As you work, build “check-ins” to your accountability team to update them on your progress or to work through decisions where you are at risk of “mission drift.”
4. Be a role model.
If you’re visible to other people as you work, you have an opportunity to model purposeful behavior for others. Whether you’re a role model to your team or to your community at large, demonstrate how you strive to shape a mission-led company and work toward a bigger vision. Knowing people are watching can also help you stay with accountability.
5. Be a mentor.
Mentorship can be one of the most rewarding relationships in work and can keep you tied to a higher purpose beyond doing business as usual. Find a mentee by letting your professional network know you’re open to mentoring someone. Define a realistic schedule and set aside time to cultivate a mentor/mentee relationship. Making a commitment to someone else’s learning can generate many rich lessons for you as well.
If you’re still unclear about your purpose, look around your community for causes needing champions. Find a cause that resonates with you, and offer some of your time or talents to an organization aligned with that cause. Volunteering exposes you to new situations and purpose-driven activities that may not be directly related to your business. By volunteering, you can gain new skills and fresh ways of looking at the world around you that may positively affect how you work.
7. Find your tribe.
Being a role model, mentoring, and volunteering are all ways to be more visible in your community and amongst your professional peers to connect with people who share similar values and goals. There are many people out there who lead mission-driven lives and work with purpose. Putting yourself out there and talking about your own mission and vision will attract others who can support you.
8. Learn to say “no.”
If you’ve never heard Derek Sivers’ “Hell Yeah” advice, Google it and learn how turning down some opportunities can be the best decisions you’ll make. Saying a definite “no” to things that are off mission for you will open up more time to do the things that fit your purpose.
9. Learn to say “yes.”
If you’re someone who always shies away from opportunities and talks yourself out of anything that resembles risk-taking, you may need to say some “yeses” to learn what activities suit you and which ones waste your time. You can’t get to a point where saying “no” is valuable if you’ve never said “yes.”
10. Remind yourself to stay on track.
Reminders, prompts, notifications and affirmations are all physical triggers that can keep bringing you back to your mission when the noise of daily work blocks the way. Make checklists of the qualities you are looking for in new hires, new clients and new projects. Make choices based on those higher sets of criteria to keep you focused on your mission and purpose.
11. Step away.
When you’re bogged down with the minutiae of day-to-day work, step away, even if for a moment. But better yet, take a day or two or three off for a real break. Big missions can be toppled by a multitude of tiny things that chip away at your time, attention and energy.
12. Get uncomfortable.
Complacency can be the enemy of purpose. When we get complacent, we drift. We don’t keep our eye on our mission. We forget the things that give our work true meaning and that are connected to our hearts and souls, not just our heads. While taking a break clears your mind so you can better zero in on your purpose, pushing yourself each day beyond your comfort zone keeps you sharp and energized. Follow the adage “Do one thing every day that scares you.” (Mary Schmich, 1997)
In business, being guided by a deeper mission helps prevent you from being distracted by the latest fads, trends and frivolous choices. Working with purpose and on purpose is an ongoing practice that can morph over time as you change and grow as a person.
this post originally appeared on BusinessWomenExperts.com.