What is Your Purpose?


Alan White

“The two most important days in a person’s life, are the day they are born and the day they find out why” – Mark Twain.

I read with great interest, Pat Dillon’s blog last week, where he spoke about working in retail banking and the negative effects that it had on his personal well-being. The funny thing about it is that, I also began my career in retail banking and it had negative consequences for my personal well-being also!

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into a long rant against the banks, we’ve all heard enough of those at this point. However it is interesting that both of us had similar experiences because we were working in areas that didn’t resonate with us and consequently had an adverse effect on our mental health. For me working in banking was never something I had envisaged myself doing. It was something I fell into after college because I listened to everyone else’s opinion except for my own.

I had always wanted to be a teacher, but decided for one reason or another to go against what my instincts were telling me, and I ended up working in a job that not only didn’t suit me, but went against almost everything that I believed in. I believe in people. That most people are inherently good and kind and that each one of us are just trying to make the best of our lives. I believe that everyone deserves a fair chance in life, not that anyone should be handed anything easily, but that if someone is willing to work hard that they can achieve what they want out of life.

As a Transition Year Co-ordinator my beliefs inform everything I do when working with young people. The quote above by Mark Twain is one I use regularly when talking to anyone about the TY Programme and what it’s essentially all about. I believe that the TY programme is a vital part of a young person’s education journey. It’s a time where young people can learn so much about themselves, develop interests that they have and discover new interests. They have an opportunity to find out more about areas they might like to work in the future. And perhaps most importantly they can explore and experience what it’s like to work on a project they are passionate about and realise for themselves just what they can achieve with hard work, creativity and teamwork.

For me bringing creativity into our daily working lives is an essential part of maintaining positive mental well-being. To be given the space to express personal talents allows people to show what they are capable of and by doing so they become more motivated and flourish in their working lives.

Young people need to be allowed to explore their creativity and talents, whatever they may be, so that they can find what their passion and purpose is in life. There is an old saying that goes, “only the idle grow weary”. By ignoring our instincts and suppressing our innate abilities and talents we become disconnected from ourselves and “grow weary”. This is when we begin to notice difficulties with our mental physical well-being, we begin to struggle with the stresses and strains of life because our talents and passions are lying idle within us.

Not everyone finds their purpose through work, sometimes work is just work, to pay the bills. Some of us find our passion in other areas such as sport, art, writing, voluntary work etc. However by finding our purpose we are enabling ourselves to be the best that we can be and I strongly believe that this pursuit of our purpose in life should be encouraged and facilitated from a young age.

Students will not always find their purpose during their time in school, it may take years before we stumble upon the thing that resonates so deeply within us that we need to pursue it with everything that we have. We can though continuously encourage young people to use their talents in creative ways in school to help them to see in themselves the capacity for achieving far greater things than they ever thought imaginable.

So, what’s your purpose? Is there something that has been niggling away at the back of your mind for a long time that you are putting off pursuing for one reason or another? My challenge to you is to make some time to pursue your passion. As you do so you will notice how your mental well-being begins to improve, your personal relationships become stronger and your overall happiness become greater as you allow your purpose to flourish.

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