Project Management

Your North Star – Creating a Practical and Sustainable Purpose Statement

From the Helping Project Managers to Help Themselves Blog
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The Scenario: 

  • Jake is sitting alone in his luxury penthouse overlooking Central Park.
  • Jake looks down at his scribbled notes from his doctor visit. Cancer stage 4… too late for chemo… weeks to months left.
  • Jake’s wife left 20 years ago after his affair. She’s since remarried and cut off all contact with him.
  • Jake tries to call his kids, but neither picks up. They won’t talk to him and haven’t since the divorce.
  • After Jake retired from his job as CEO, the coworkers he thought were his friends stopped calling.
  • Jake takes out a pen and paper and writes “My Legacy” at the top.
  • Jake stares at the blank page, pen ready to write, mind unable to come up with anything.

The Message: You may know a Jake, someone who is in their later years, and unable to point to anything significant other than his or her career and its financial fruits. For some, this may be their definition of contentment. In my years of experience, though, I’ve seen way too many people look back on their lives with regret; not acknowledging those things that are really important earlier in life.

It’s not too late to avoid being a Jake. It takes defining a practical and sustainable purpose statement--the north star that guides your actions. Then living it.

Not sure where to start? I’ve created a contentment assessment to help you think through areas in your life that are most important to you. It helps you develop a practical and sustainable purpose statement to guide you when to say yes to some things and no to others. Get started by downloading the assessment and doing the following:

  • Acknowledge and understand each of the nine contentment areas:
  1. Career Contentment - How content you are in your current and future career potential
  2. Family Contentment - How content you are with your family life
  3. Health Contentment - How content you are in your physical and mental health
  4. Friendship Contentment - How content you are with relationships built and maintained with friends and loved ones
  5. Financial Contentment - How content you are in your current and future financial status
  6. Leisure Contentment - How content you are with quality time spent on leisurely activities
  7. Spiritual Contentment - How content you are with your spiritual life
  8. Giving Contentment - How content you are with your pay-it-forward giving
  9. Legacy Contentment - How content you are with the legacy you are leaving behind should you die today
  • Assess how important each of these contentment areas is to you.
  • For areas that are extremely or very important, define your contentment goal and what you need to do to achieve it.
  • Construct your purpose statement based on extremely or very important areas like: “Have a fulfilling and sustainable career with fair and equitable compensation BUT not at the cost of friendships, leisure, and life experiences.”
  • Hold yourself accountable (or work with an accountability partner).

The Consequences:  By not taking intentional action to define your purpose statement your consequences could include:

  • Time/priorities imbalance: Things you think are important don’t get the attention they need.
  • Burnout: Too much work at the expense of other areas isn’t sustainable.
  • Relationship neglect: Other people in your life don’t get the attention they need/deserve.

The Next Steps: 

  • Download and complete the contentment assessment.
  • Create your purpose statement.
  • Be patient with yourself; it may take some reflection time to come up with a statement that energizes you.
  • Live it, even if you need an accountability partner to do it.
Posted on: May 26, 2022 09:13 AM | Permalink

Comments (4)

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Luis Branco CEO| Business Insight, Consultores de Gestão, Ldª Carcavelos, Lisboa, Portugal
Dear Lonnie
The topic that you brought to our reflection and debate was very interesting.

Thanks for sharing and for your opinions.

I am convinced that the simplest formula was the one proposed in "The Bucket List".
The sooner you start doing it... the better it will be!

Stéphane Parent Self Employed / Semi-retired| Leader Maker Prince Edward Island, Canada
I appreciate the thought behind the blog post. I'm not sure I would be content with just contentment in the different facets of my life.

Falko Graf Senior International Expert Trainer for Project Management and Change Management| TIBA Managementberatung GmbH Stuttgart, Germany
Thanks, Lonnie.
should have known this years ago.
Be sure I will recommend this post to some Jakes

Tunde Agbato, PMP, ACP, PSM I, RMP Agile Project Manager| Animal Care Services Konsult Nigeria Limited Ogere-Remo, Ogere,, Ogun, Nigeria
#You find your map, find our North Star.

Thanks for guiding our North Star!

Thanks for Sharing!

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