To paraphrase the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, if you don’t know where you are going, it doesn’t matter what direction you go. It seems obvious. Knowing what you want to achieve with your efforts, where you want to go on the journey. If you don’t know this, you probably won’t get there. And, though it seems obvious–getting clarity on your deeper shared purpose, on what you want to achieve in life and with others–many people cannot answer the question. My colleagues and I in the field of large-systems change find that very few groups have actually done the work of gaining clarity on what the group is actually all about, far beyond its mission, to its deeper shared purpose, the force that connects them all and drives the will to change. Within that same observation, we find that this lack of clarity at the group level stems from a lack of clarity within each of the individuals as well, clarity on their primary agreements, what they are in service to with their lives.
Not only does this influence the ability of a group to achieve its intended outcomes, it seems to also affect your physical health. A recent study published in JAMA Current Open found that, “People who didn’t have a strong life purpose — which was defined as “a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals” — were more likely to die than those who did, and specifically more likely to die of cardiovascular diseases.“