Finding Your Purpose After Being Laid Off

If you’ve been laid off or made redundant, you’re likely to be experiencing a range of complex emotions, including fear, sadness, anger and possibly even embarrassment. Finding ways to remain positive and motivated during this time is crucial for maintaining your mental wellbeing – and one way to do this is to work on finding your purpose.

By ‘finding your purpose’, I mean identifying the activities and areas that make you feel happy and provide you with a sense of worth and meaning. Whether your purpose goes on to become your vocation, leads you in a particular direction with your career, or simply forms part of your personal life, there are many benefits to be gained from finding your purpose and embarking on activities that are truly fulfilling.

Why is it important to find your purpose?

Having a sense of purpose can help you feel happier and more fulfiled in your everyday life. In fact, the benefits of finding one’s purpose have been scientifically proven in a range of different studies.

A report in Applied Psychology found that people with high levels of eudemonic wellbeing – a state that involves having a sense of purpose and feeling like what you do is worthwhile – tend to live longer. Other studies have linked feeling a sense of purpose with better health outcomes, including a lower risk of strokes and heart attacks, improved sleep, and a reduced risk of dementia.

In 2016, the Journal of Research and Personality published a study showing that people who experience a sense of purpose make more money than those who feel their work lacks meaning.

Clearly there are many significant benefits to be gained from finding purpose and engaging in pursuits that make us feel our lives are worthwhile and meaningful. If you’ve been laid off or made redundant from your job, this could present an ideal time to focus on finding your purpose and experiencing these benefits.

What exactly do we mean by ‘purpose’?

Essentially, ‘purpose’ means the motivating aims of your life. To put it another way, it’s those things that make you excited to get out of bed in the morning. Following your purpose will generally involve engaging in activities that offer a sense of meaning and direction. 

For some people, this purpose will be linked with meaningful work or a purpose-based career, while others will find satisfaction in personal areas of their life.

How can you find your purpose?

While the idea of finding your purpose may seem like an abstract concept, there are certain pursuits you can engage in which help you to develop this sense of purpose and identify what drives you. 

Once you’ve become aware of what brings meaning to your life, you’ll be better equipped to pursue activities and ventures that align with this purpose.

While being laid off from your job is far from an ideal situation, using the additional time you have available to engage in activities that help you find your purpose can be extremely rewarding. Here are some ideas you might want to try:

1. Give to others

Giving – whether it’s our time, our money, or our skills – makes us feel good. By way of example, a study by Havard Business School professor Michael Norton found that giving money to someone else lifted the giver’s happiness more than spending that money on themselves.

And it can also help us establish a sense of meaningful purpose. Your contribution could involve volunteering with a non-profit organisation, helping out your local community, or assisting a friend or family member.

2. Connect with the people around you

Social connections form an important part of our happiness and wellbeing – and they can even help us live longer. But this basic human need can also help us identify our purpose and passions. When aiming to find your purpose, try spending time with positive people or ones that inspire you and proactively reach out to connections you may have lost touch with. 

Meeting new people can also provide valuable insights into what drives us, so look for opportunities to network and build a community of people who bring out the best in you. In doing so, you may discover a deeper sense of purpose through the conversations and interactions you have.

3. Explore what you enjoy doing

Engaging in activities we’re passionate about is proven to help boost our psychological wellbeing. What’s more, the key to finding our purpose often lies in discovering what we really love to do. Think about those activities that spark your interest – the ones that cause you to lose track of time and immerse yourself in the present moment. 

You might want to consider how you could turn these interests into something meaningful, such as a side business, a passion project, or simply carving out more time in your schedule to indulge in what you love doing the most.

4. Practice gratitude

Cultivating gratitude can offer a plethora of scientifically-proven benefits, including better physical health, improved self-esteem and increased mental strength. What’s more, making a habit of focusing on aspects of your life that make you feel grateful can help you identify areas that hold meaning to you, thus bringing you closer to your purpose.

Practising gratitude can be as simple as listing three things you’re grateful at the end of each day, or taking a moment to mentally note situations, people or circumstances that make you feel grateful.

5. Further your education and upskill.

If you are a person who thrives on structure, the “blank slate” of a day without the structure a job provides can contribute greatly to a feeling of purposelessness. Something as simple as enrolling in a course, whether related to your future career, your passions and interests, or personal growth, can help to give you a tangible goal to structure your day around.

Sites like edX, Coursera and FutureLearn offer many free courses from Universities around the world, as well as paid courses and even online degrees. Masterclass is a paid service that allows you to learn a range of skills from celebrities in their industry – from learning cooking with Gordon Ramsay, to learning tennis with Serena Williams, to learning photography with Annie Liebovitz. If you’re feeling at a loss about what your next steps should be professionally, and your previous employer has not provided you with an outplacement program, you can also self-fund your own outplacement. An outplacement program (like those that we offer here at Career365) can provide you with much-needed clarity and direction around your career transition, helping you develop a strong sense of purpose for the future. You’ll learn valuable skills that will better equip you for your chosen career path, while having the opportunity to explore what drives you and gives you a sense of job satisfaction.

I hope that these tips have been helpful to you in creating your own sense of purpose while between jobs. I’d like to invite you to leave a comment on our Facebook page and share with us how YOU have been finding purpose in these challenging times.

Looking for more tips on how to navigate the challenges of being laid off from your job? Check out the range of career transition books by careers expert Greg Weiss, founder of Career365 – a leading Australian employee transitioning firm.

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