Purpose. Impact. Fulfillment. All are meaningful words for a desired way of living your clients may want to maintain in pursuit of a quality life. Society may tell them to find what they love to do and do it for the rest of their life. Individuals tell your clients to never settle and keep pursuing their dreams. Regardless of how it’s described, pursuit of purpose, passion, or fulfillment can be seen as the driving force behind behaviors and identity within the world. And when it becomes hard to grasp or remains unfound, it can create distress that engages your client in seeking support to find answers. Influential author and speaker Simon Sinek calls this quest for meaning, “finding your why.”
Learning Through Literature
So how does one start the journey in finding their why? For some, it’s engaging in reading material such as Simon Sinek and David Mead’s book, Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team, or exploring your leadership style with Tom Rath and Barry Conchie’s Strengths Based Leadership. Perhaps you explore your client’s personality through the Enneagram, which is increasing in popularity over the Myers Briggs Personality Test in its ability to develop insight into how one interacts relationally with others from reinforcement in childhood experiences. Any of these sources could support increased awareness not only of strengths, but awareness of the psychological driving forces behind motivation and resulting behaviors. A free version of the Enneagram quiz called EnneaApp can be found through the App Store with additional information and the formal assessment can found at the Enneagram Institute (enneagraminstitute.com). Engaging clients in processing the results of the Enneagram quiz can support insight into how they best relate to others when engaging in collaborative activity or to identify strategies for strengthening of their relationships.
In addition to reading or other homework regarding the Enneagram, another approachable option for exploration of purpose and self-discovery can occur through values exercises. Ranking a series of values by level of importance can allow further insight of what motivates a person. By engaging in a values exercise, it allows one to check in on how important values are being experienced both in the present moment and how they can be improved in the future to support feelings of fulfillment. A free, online resource to engage in exploration of your values can be found by completing the Life Values Inventory (lifevaluesinventory.org). As a helping professional, you may also invest in making or buying value cards that are easy to sort as part of therapeutic activity. The act of sorting presents as a low risk activity and encourages clients to remain aware of their gut reactions rather than finding themselves in analysis paralysis, which allows authentic processing outside of society pressures or others’ values influence.
Core Beliefs and Cognitions
Engaging in the progressive work of processing behavior patterns and values can also be explored through therapeutic work. Identifying negative thoughts or core beliefs can create new connections and awareness between actions and reactions. Core beliefs can be described as our deepest, sometimes darkest fears or beliefs about ourselves, usually focusing on negative traits such as feelings of unworthiness, being unlovable, or feelings of failure. When experienced, core beliefs can engage visceral reactions in the body including intense feelings of shame and fear. When explored through trauma therapy modalities such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), healing can be accelerated and supported to re-write client views of negative beliefs to something more positive, thus improving self-esteem, functioning, and relationships with others.
One final therapeutic element that can support clients in pursuing purpose is career counseling. Career counselors, by trade, support individuals in discovering their strengths, possible career paths, and can support clients in preparing for career interviews, resumes, and choice of higher education if desired.
Whether you engage your client in the above-mentioned exercises to improve self-esteem, discover purpose, or develop new insight, reassuring your clients that self-discovery is an exciting, sometimes lengthy process to uncover passion and motivation can set realistic expectations for your therapeutic work. However they go about engaging in “finding their why,” it is the hope that they enjoy the process and engage fully to uncover their recipe for success and achieve feelings of fulfillment!