This is a relatively brief update but an important one.
Over the last few months I’ve noticed a clarity of purpose emerge in my work.
It seems to have been facilitated by a very busy period of work, in which my mind has had to develop some efficiencies and connect projects together in order to reduce the cognitive overload.
By finding a way to conceptually link all my projects together, my mind has generated a clarity of purpose that is most welcome.
So what is that purpose?
Simply put – it is to help people improve, sustain or begin to repair their mental health (see a previous post on what I mean by ‘mental health’)
As I write it, I can’t believe quite how simple it sounds.
Now a psychologist saying they’ve found their purpose and that it is related to mental health isn’t really much of a realisation. I wouldn’t hold it against you if you were saying to yourself
‘err derr, couldn’t you have worked that out years ago?’.
And you are probably right.
But for some reason, I’ve failed to see the bigger picture in my projects throughout my work life. Every project I’ve done has been for its own sake, not for a greater ideal.
As a curious aside, this experience points to an interesting possibility about ‘purpose’ which is that for many people who are working away, a strong sense of purpose maybe sits latent in them, waiting for an opportunity for the pieces of their life to fit together in just the right way.
Regardless of the conditions that gave rise to its emergence in me, it is much appreciated.
It allows me to maintain an interest in multiple areas of research and health, as long as my time spent in those areas improves my ability to help individuals with their mental health. I can read into nutrition or neuroscience or religion or philosophy, all with the same basic goal: Is there something in here that I can teach to others that will help them with their mental health?
It provides teaching clarity – I know that each time I stand up in front of a class or room full of people what it is I am there to do. I am there to try and pass on knowledge that can help those listening improve their mental health.
It provides some internal relief – i’ve not felt this way in my life before, where my interests, abilities, work and contribution collide (Japanese call it Ikigai). Despite a busy schedule at the moment, all the separate tasks feel coherently linked.
Finally, it imbues each task I do with a clear purpose. This makes it easier to focus or refocus on a task, even during times of fatigue or overload.
So does this have any implications for projects I am working on, including this site?
Only positive ones so far.
I am able now to pinpoint what each big project I do brings to the table in terms of my overarching goal.
For example, mental fitness (the topic of this website) is the framework I like to use to discuss one’s efforts to build and improve their mental health. So I will continue to work to get the mental fitness workbook finished and freely available.
The Psychology and Health Forum which I’ve co-run for 15 years now is a community of professionals with a similar purpose (improve people’s mental health). I’ve started blogging within that community to push the direction of the conversation towards a more explicit recognition of that shared goal.
Visualising Mental Health which involves working collaboratively with designers to find new and innovative ways to educate people about mental health, allows me to play at the edges of what is possible in terms of vehicles through which to communicate mental health wisdom.
7 Days of Psychology is about clarifying psychology’s role in helping people improve their mental health. It is a showcase for the discipline in which I sit.
Finally the CPD workbook which started life as a tool to help psychologists track their ongoing professional development, will become a tool with dual purpose: professional AND personal development. More on that project later.
I want to finish by acknowledging how incredibly lucky I am that I get to reach a point in my career where my role and purpose make sense and I am energised to realise that purpose. Many people don’t get that in their careers. Many work their arses off without connecting to a higher sense of value in their work. I am incredibly fortunate.
I look forward to further crafting this website to be an accurate reflection of that underlying purpose.