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Rediscovering Our Sense of Purpose in 2021

As the new year began, I wonder how many of us made resolutions.

According to a You Gov survey, around 25% of Brits make New Year’s Resolutions. However, by the end of the year, evidence suggests that only about a quarter have kept to them.

The top five resolutions for Brits are i) to take more exercise or improve fitness, ii) to lose weight, iii) to improve diet, iv) to save more, and v) to take up a new hobby or pastime. However, I would like to suggest not so much a resolution for the year but a focus instead on rediscovering our sense of purpose in life.

For me, a sense of purpose is about feeling we are contributing to something larger than ourselves. It’s a defining characteristic of being human. Without a sense of purpose, I believe we become more vulnerable to boredom, anxiety and depression. Research also shows that having a sense of purpose can add years to our lives and be associated with a reduced risk of mortality and cardiovascular events. A reason for this could, of course, be that having a purpose in life provides an incentive to look after our health.

However, I know that finding or rediscovering a sense of purpose can sometimes be difficult. For example, if we’ve recently retired, we may be struggling to find purposeful things to do after a lifetime of structure and work schedules. Sometimes too our purpose in life is one we feel compelled to follow rather than one we’ve specifically chosen. For example, due to parental or others’ pressure or doing things because we feel they’re the right things to do, rather than them being right for us. If that’s the case then clearly our sense of purpose in life is artificially directed and may not motivate us at all.

In my book, Your Bigger Future, I talk about how to develop an authentic sense of purpose. For me, the key element is to find out what we really enjoy doing and what we’re good at. It’s about identifying our personal strengths and developing them. I suggest asking searching questions such as: “What moves me?”, “When do I enjoy hard work?”, “Looking back on my life, what do I regret doing / not doing?”, and “Imagine I have a day without any responsibilities. What would I choose to do?”.

Once we’ve got answers to these questions, then there’s a good chance we will also have identified how to find or rediscover a sense of purpose in our lives. And once we have a sense of purpose in life, I guarantee we’ll never get up in the morning wondering how to fill our days.

Perhaps the final word should go to Winston Churchill who once said: “It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.”

As ever, I’d be delighted to discuss these ideas with you and to advise how your purpose in life can be supported by appropriate financial planning. In the meantime, you can download the complete chapter of the book here or find out more about Your Bigger Future over on the dedicated website.

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