I recently wrote about one word that can bring you beyond happiness–usefulness. It’s a word I focus on as a centerpiece in my life. I want to deliver on that sentiment here with something I hope you’ll find useful, an important framework that I’ve created and applied to my life, and one that equally contributes to going beyond “mere happiness.” I call it the 2P framework. It consists of just two words (both starting with “P”), and while neither of the Ps stand for “Powerful”, one most certainly could.
So what are the two P’s?
Purpose and Process.
More specifically, going beyond happiness and feeling extra useful comes from living with purpose and loving the process.
First, purpose. I recently wrote about the power of purpose, how a new study has shown us that living and working with a sense of purpose leads to a longer life and greater engagement, motivation, and retention at work. I wrote about how you can uncover your purpose by asking a number of introspective questions like “What are your superpowers?” or “What are your values and beliefs?”
Having a purpose to steer towards, like your North Star, is potent beyond measure. It provides instant perspective and helps you focus on what matters at work and in life. It is the profound “Why.”
But alone, it’s not enough.
That’s where the second P, Process, comes in.
I’ve worked with coaching clients who did a terrific job at articulating their higher-order, lofty purpose, kept it out in front of them, and steered towards it. But sailing by that North Star alone isn’t enough to keep you from crashing into the rocks.
I’ve seen all too often where, even with the purpose held high, people forget to fall in love with the process, the nitty-gritty, day-to-day work it takes to live and realize that purpose. The day-to-day reality of what they spend their time on grinds them down, and they fall out of love or lose sight of their purpose. They get off course.
A lofty purpose must be accompanied by a love of the process it takes to get there.
I have observed in TV interviews that Nick Saban, coach of the college football powerhouse the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, deflects the importance of goals and talks instead about focusing on the process (as the goals will be achieved if the team’s adhering to the process). I’ve also observed in TV interviews that Tom Brady, six-time Super Bowl champion for the New England Patriots, talks about falling in the love with the process–the day-to-day grind of practicing fundamentals that makes him so great.
You must learn to love the process on the path to purpose.
I do, and it works.
As an entrepreneur, speaker, writer, and coach, I know my purpose is to help others become the best version of themselves. To be–of use. To inspire someone, every day.
I also know that requires a process, one I’ve learned to fall in love with for what it is–my path to purpose. Even on the days it wears on me.
My process (when I’m not on the road keynoting) is to get up and research and write for this column or for my books and blog while my brain is at its best. I crank away, with only a brief break for lunch, then I exercise in the afternoon each day to refresh and recharge. I return to work after my workout, finish up what I was writing, and then work on preparations for future keynotes, workshops, or coaching sessions.
I find myself putting in even more hours than when I was in the corporate world, but the upper end of the 2P framework, the Purpose, keeps me driven throughout the day, when I might otherwise feel burned out. I know that I’m creating content with the spoken and written word that will be of service to my fellow human (in service of my purpose).
I reframe those moments when I feel ground down, remembering that it leads me to my purpose, which leads me to love those moments. They’re all part of the process.
You can do the same. Discover and articulate your purpose at work (and in life). To fall in love with the process, your daily work at work, means you’ll have to cut out the non-value-added work (which you should be doing anyway). It doesn’t mean you have to love every minute and everything you do at work–it’s about reframing your entire day as a process you love that puts you on the path to your broader purpose.
So in case you’ve always understood and liked the idea of working with purpose but felt it was too “airy,” try grounding it with a process that you come to love and that gets you there.
I think you’ll find something beyond happiness, and usefulness too–meaning, fulfillment, and joy.