How to Discover Your Purpose

How do you discover your purpose? Each of us seeks the answer to this question at one point in our lives. We strive for a deeper understanding of why we’re here on this earth. We seek the one answer that explains our existence and seems to beckon a life that’s more meaningful than without it. We read self-help books and look within ourselves, to God, to our friends, family and co-workers to shed light on what seems like a complicated mission statement just outside our reach. We seek that one thiDiscover Your Purposeng that makes sense and leads us on the path to greatness.

If you’re looking for the one thing that you can define as your purpose, you might as well forget it. Your purpose is  more than just one thing, action, task or goal. To believe that you are here on earth to fulfill one purpose simplifies the entire journey of life into a moment of achievement that when accomplished leaves you asking…”now what?” The truth is that you have many reasons for being on this earth. Discovering your purpose is about articulating them.

More than One Purpose

Historical figures,  leaders, influencers, and Jesus had more than one life purpose. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s purpose was to lead India to independence, and inspire worldwide movements to reduce poverty, inspire civil rights movements, expand on women’s rights, and allow for religious freedom. Mother Teresa’s purpose was to teach children, care for the poor, help heal the sick, and advocate for the disadvantaged. Jesus had at least many reasons for coming to this earth, one of which was to bridge the path to God through his sacrifice for our sins, but there are at least 20 reasons listed in the bible by my count.

How to Discover Your Purpose

Your purpose in life isn’t just a statement. It’s the set of actions that you take that leave the world better than when you came into it. There are seven steps that you can take to identify your purpose.
1.    Uncover buried dreams
2.    Articulate your passions
3.    Discover your native genius
4.    Identify your unique characteristics
5.    Review the activities above for similarities and commonalities
6.    Choose the activities that are key to driving your purpose
7.    Define your story based on these activities

In my next post I’ll unpack each of these steps. Have you taken any time to discover your purpose?  What tools, processes, or methods did you use?

How to Propose Budget Allocation for Your Professional Development

Personal and professional development can be costly, but it doesn’t have to impact your bottom line if you can learn how to propose budget allocation for your professional development. Professional development is key to keeping happy and productive employees. Successful leaders are constantly learning, gathering insight, and helping the company thrive.  Many employers know this and often will provide programs and training to support this. Large companies typically have formal programs and application processes, but small companies often have some funding allocated for this as well.

Over the course of my career, I’ve received tens of thousands of dollars towards my development, including professional organization memberships, conferences, certifications, and a Masters in Business Administration. Some of these were part of a company wide initiative or program, but all of them required a pitch of varying degrees. You can do this too by simply including a few key elements in your pitch.

Propose Budget Allocation for Your Professional Development

Having a plan that you can step through with your manager is the best way to  begin the conversation to propose budget allocation for your professional development. It’s your best shot at getting approval. Here are 9 essential elements to include in your proposal:

  • Pain Points that specifically describe the issue that you’re trying to solve
  • Relevant facts that make a compelling argument for your education
  • Ideas and plans for implementing what you learn
  • Benefit statements that explain the value of the education
  • Value added offer to help others in the company
  • Alternative options so that you provide your manager with choices
  • Details such as location and expense
  • Your option preference
  • Request for funding presented in a way that doesn’t provide a no option

Professional Development Proposal Example

Here’s an example of  each of these points laid out on a pitch to to attend an educational content marketing conference.

  • Pain Points-The market is changing. Our sales are flat, and our market share is diminishing. Consumers have adapted to the multitude of marketing messages that they encounter each day, and they’re no longer listening.
  • Your Idea-We need to change our marketing strategy, and I’d like to explore the use of educational content marketing in our campaigns next year.
  • Relevant Facts-Educational content marketing is significantly less expensive than paid advertising, often times 31-41% less according to Kapost.
  • Your Plan-Therefore, in order to ensure we stay competitive in our environment, I’m requesting funding to attend the next marketing conference to learn how we can effectively implement educational content marketing in our organization.
  • Benefit Statement-Funding this conference will allow me to get up to speed faster than our competitors, customize a plan for our company, and begin taking steps toward implementing our content strategy.
  • Value Add-Further more, I’d be happy to present my top ten learnings during the next lunch and learn so that anyone from the company can learn.
  • Options-There are two conferences that present best practices for educational content marketing. They are Content Marketing Universe and Social Media Universe.
  • Location-Content Marketing Universe is  being held  in Honolulu, Hawaii on July 6-9 of next year and Social Media Universe is being held in Orlando, Florida on May 28-30.
  • Cost-The cost of the conferences are $10,000 and $7,000, respectively. This include conference registration and travel expenses.
  • Preference-I can attend either conference or both. However, my preference is to attend Content Marketing Universe because of the keynote speaker lineup and Chief Content Officer track.
  • Request-Which of these two options works best in your opinion?

What other strategies do you employ when you propose budget allocation for your professional development? Let me know in the comments below.
Propose Budget Allocation for Your Professional Development

How to Get Your Education for Free

This post isn’t about how to get your education for free through scholarships. Rather, it’s about how to get your education for free through unconventional methods.

You see, my co-worker Jamie is leaving this week. She’s moving to follow her husband around the globe. She’s leaving her career as a copywriter to pursue her love for her husband and to focus on her small children.   She’ll freelance to help make ends meet, but besides that she doesn’t really have a plan. I admire her for her free bird approach to life, but wonder about her journey.  Will the stress of reducing the family income by 40% overburden her husband?

I can’t predict the future, but I can encourage her to plan. I took her out to lunch to chat about her preparation and plans for the future.

What Have You Done to Enhance Your Skills?

I asked Jamie if she had taken any classes, gone to many conferences, or joined professional groups during her time with our company. Sadly, she replied no.  Apparently no one had ever asked her if she was interested, and she was too busy with work to ask. In the five years that she worked for our company, she never asked for a single learning opportunity because she didn’t think she could. She felt sad and disappointed by her lack of initiative, and asked me if there was anything she could do to get started in the right direction. It was getting late so I gave her a few pointers and promised to follow up soon. Here’s what I said.

How to Get Your Education For Free

There are many sites that provide a way to get your education for free. The key is wading through the noise and finding one with content that helps you grow. Blogs are a great start and its often easy to find the leader in your space with a little bit of research, asking your peer and co-workers, participating in forums or in online groups, or picking up a copy of the latest professional magazine and following the writers on Twitter. Then read, watch, learn, and take one action towards implementing what you’ve learned.

These are my favorites:

  • Coursera-I’ve taken classes online at Coursera, from writing to marketing to psychology there are hundreds of college level courses to choose from. Sign up for a class and check it out.  There’s no charge and you can always un-enroll if you find it’s not your thing.
  • iTunes Podcasts-I always have at least four podcasts queued in my phone. Most of them involve something business related and they keep me up to date on the latest trends and business tips. Visit the iTunes Podcast store to find a podcast that interests you. If you don’t like it, you can always unsubscribe. You’ll need to download the Podcast app to play it on your phone.
  • Overdrive Audiobooks-I use the Overdrive media app to check out audiobooks from my library for free.  I can’t tell you how many hundreds of dollars I have saved on audiobooks using this tool. You can also checkout e-books as well, but check with your library first to see if they participate.
  • Amazon Kindle-Amazon offers free books all the time. The key is to find one that’s worth reading. The best tip I have here is to follow your favorite author or tribe leader by blog or Twitter. Occasionally, they will give a away their books for free to attract more readership and increase their brand recognition. Here’s my affiliate link to the free book list: Amazon.

Upgrade to the Cheap Seats

Once you’ve saturated your brain with all of the free information that you can stand, it’s time to upgrade to the cheap seats. You can only get so far by reading what you can find for free. {Tweet That} At this point you’ll want to invest in more formal education specific to the skill you want to acquire. This might include joining a professional society, visiting your local recreation center or library, joining a niche membership site, or taking a course online that you can’t get anywhere else.

Often times the cheap seats are so affordable that you could pay for them yourself. If you are working for a company that utilizes your skills, I would ask them to pay for it first. You might be surprised to see your manager sigh with relief at the $30/month membership or the $200 small business conference. After all, the rest of management just got back from spending $10,000 each to attend the I’m An Awesome Manager conference. The $30/month will pretty much feel like free after that.

Front Row and Center

Once you’ve gotten the OK from your manager to pursue your education in the cheap seats, you’ll want to explore conferences and other premium opportunities to take you to the super star level. I’ll give you some tips on how to propose budget for this activity in the next post.

Take Your Steps

If you haven’t had a chance to sign up for my free Best Version of You program, it’s not too late.  I’d love to help you get started on your journey by helping you identify your native genius, discover your dreams, and take actionable steps to achieve them.  This is not your mama’s coaching program. {Tweet That} There is no cost to go through this program, and I think you’ll find it worth your time.  Click here to get started.

At the end of our lunch Jamie looked at me with a little sadness in her sky blue eyes and explained that no one had ever posed the questions that I just did. She had a lot to think about. She promised me she’d look into free education when she got settled in and then we parted ways. I wonder if she’ll take those steps. What do you think?

How to Get Your Education for Free