Some personal thoughts on Purpose, and what happens if you don’t have one

In this episode Christy and Dr. Josephine revisit Purpose, what it means to both of them, and what their purpose actually is currently. We explore this in our work and home lives.

And importantly we bust some myths on what happens if you don’t have a purpose! We discuss how this can be so disconcerting when all the messages we get are around ‘you MUST have a purpose’. We know some of you don’t and that’s ok too!

If you’d like to ask questions about purpose please email [email protected]

Christy Mori (00:09):

Welcome to Gears, Action, Growth, shifting business culture one conversation at a time. My name is Christy Mori and I’m joining Dr. Josephine Palermo, whose super power is to create business cultures that transform organizations team by team. Today, we’ll be discussing about purpose, why it’s important to us and what to do if you don’t have it. Hope you get value from it.

Christy Mori (00:38):

Hey, everybody. Hey, Jo! How’s it going today?

Dr. Josephine Palermo (00:39):

Hey, I’m good. I’m feeling really good. Looking forward to Friday.

Christy Mori (00:43):

Yeah, that’s right. It’s tomorrow. And we just gotten out of lockdown a week ago, I think in Melbourne two weeks ago. No, it’s I think it’s a week ago. Hey, I always lose track of time during these lockdowns. I don’t know if you feel the same way.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (01:01):

I do. I do. And it’s yeah, it’s kind of weird. I always feel like I need to start up again afterwards. So the stop start is it feels a bit weird. It doesn’t, you don’t just necessarily just start again with your routine at the end of lockdown. So there’s a bit of a lag for me. Yeah,

Christy Mori (01:20):

Yeah, I understand exactly. Just have to adjust. Hey, so we’ve but during lockdown though, we have been able to interview some very, very cool people. Recently, you, Jo, you’ve done an interview with psychologist, Dr. Graeme Bye, who’s your contact. And it’s been cool to hear him talk about personal branding and I think it is uploaded now. So if everybody wants to check that out, it’s a great intro to some personal branding. So today we’ll actually be theming around Purpose. And this is because we’ve been chatting with so many people who are doing amazing things and they all have some clear purposes and why they do what they do and how they live their lives. So I think that’s where we are coming from. So today we will get to delve into more of ourselves and each other in terms of discussing what gives us meaning what gives us purpose in life.

Christy Mori (02:20):

And we’ll also be talking about the question of what if I don’t have purpose. And this is something that we both come across a lot with different people. So don’t worry if you don’t have purpose and you’re listening to this and this making you panic a little bit. We’ll do. Because we we’ve been there ourselves as well. There’s not going to be every single life you’re going to have every single day of your life. You’re not always going to feel like you have purpose, so that’s okay as well. So yeah, you guys get to hear a little bit about us and hopefully you get to know us a little bit as well. So we’ll just kick off with what does having purpose mean for our lives personally and Jo? Yeah. If you could share with us what gives you purpose and meaning?

What Gives Us Purpose and Meaning

Dr. Josephine Palermo (03:07):

Yeah. Thanks. Yeah. Thanks Christy. So I think I’ve talked a lot about, you know, what I’m passionate about and over the course of this these seasons, but but I, for me, it’s really about the connection I have with people and I love to bring people together to create something more than then, then it’s possible if we’re just individuals. So I love to see people collaborate and I love to drive collaboration. And I think that collaboration is one of those things where we can, we, if we do it well, we can solve most of the world’s problems. So for me, what really gives me purpose is to keep sharing my drive for collaboration and, and maybe some of my wisdom around how to make collaboration happen. So that to me is it has been a real key theme for me in my life.

Christy Mori (04:01):

Yeah, that’s awesome. That is awesome because all of you, the things that you do in your life, whether it’s professional or personal it does involve connecting with people together, isn’t it? Because you’re quite extroverted. So you also really like, you know, dinner parties you like gathering people. Yeah. Things like that.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (04:25):

I love dancing with lots of people.

Christy Mori (04:29):


Dr. Josephine Palermo (04:30):

Dance and music. So it’s always about kind of bringing communities together and in work I bring communities to practice together and, and then I work with you know, companies, organizations, and business owners around really forming teams that work and getting them to really see the power of all teams and collaboration, and also partnering, you know, across companies and across organizations. So for me, it’s, you know, that rise of really needing to you know, really flex muscle around how we collaborate, how we connect with others. And I think for me, what I notice cause I think when you’re, when you have a purpose and you’re driven, you notice it and things around that and what I notice all the parts of the world, you know, that are not connected and I feel and empathize very much. So with all those people, those groups, those parts of the, the kind of world that are not connected. So people that are, for example, facing, you know, discrimination or aren’t aren’t being given the the share of you know, the benefits that we all received, those kinds of things really. I feel deeply, and I think I feel them deeply because I had got this purpose around kind of bringing people together to collaborate and to really connect. So that’s kind of interesting. Yeah. Yeah.

Christy Mori (06:00):

How did you know that? Do you remember when you were firstly thinking that connecting people was going to be your thing or one of the things that will bring you purpose?

Dr. Josephine Palermo (06:12):

You know, what it’s not something that I noticed until later, I think in my career. And because, because actually, I think I had a different purpose earlier in my career, particularly I had a purpose around I wanted to make a real difference in the field of psychology and particularly social psychology. And I wanted to really just in some ways my purpose was to be known or for, for my research, which so it was, it was in a way a bit of an eat more ego-driven purpose. I sort of wanted to be able to you know, speak a lot about research around marginality and, you know, it’s still around communion and connection, but I, I, it was a different purpose. It wasn’t really to solve big problems or to really have an impact on people. It was because I wanted to, you know, make, make my mark in the field of psychology.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (07:08):

And as a cause as a student, you, you sort of hear about all these great researchers and great thought leaders and you, and for me, I was and, and, you know, I w I am an always had been ambitious and so I wanted to really make my mark. So I think I developed more of a, kind of more well rounded purpose, I guess, as I, as I’ve experienced more and as I’ve had a sense of what’s really important and where I can contribute, you know, what my strengths are and where I can contribute. So I think that that’s been it’s really a pathway that, that I haven’t planned it’s sometimes it’s, it’s because I notice things and I jump into opportunities because I’m particularly driven to jump into opportunities, but a lot of the time I’d been, you know, it, it, it’s the things that have happened where I’ve then gone, oh, I’m, I’m doing this again. And I’m, I’m being called by others to do this particular work. You know, I would get called on to do to kind of create things out of nothing. I often worked in, you know, when I worked in higher education, we often worked with budgets that were, you know, dismal and nobody had any money.

Christy Mori (08:24):

Is that education? It’s all around the world.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (08:28):

It should be better. So I had to create something out of nothing. And the only thing I had to do that were the kind of effort of the people around me. And so, I was always, I think, good at energizing others. And so really, it was, I sort of, you know. Sometimes you get attracted to the things you’re good at too. And so, and that kind of builds your confidence and your sense of competency. So I would, I would tend to kind of create something out of nothing just by really galvanizing the passion and purpose of others. And so, so I think that then that became something that I reflected on and thought, this is actually why I’m here. Cause I think when we think about purpose, what you’re sort of trying to answer, what is my life about? Why am I here?

Dr. Josephine Palermo (09:20):

And and I think some people get that meaning in their lives, through other aspects of their lives, it doesn’t have to be work. Some of them get that through the relationships they have in their families or by being parents or by being a daughter or a son or a sister or a brother, or by doing work that’s outside of, you know, kind of paid work and more in the kind of charity and not to profit space. So for me I was always, my purpose has always connected to work because I had ambitions around work, but actually the, the whole purpose about social connection and using connection to make the world a better place, didn’t become apparent to me until later much later in my career.

Christy Mori (10:07):

Right. So I think you touched on some good things in terms of our purpose. Doesn’t have to be just in our professional work. Cause sometimes our professional work might be that it’s work and that’s it. For a lot of people I think in the world, maybe they’re just working for not entirely Purpose, but it’s just what they do to, you know, pay bills, take care of their family and so on. So sometimes I don’t want it to be a conversation where we’re, you know, it sounds purpose sounds like a luxury as well. So it’s good that you were touching on like different parts of our lives that have purpose. Yeah.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (10:51):

I, I think, you know, because, and I got actually a very wise person told me this a while very early in my career. He, he said some people really live to work that work is there. They, you know, it was what they are here to do. It’s they find all their meaning and purpose in the work that they do. And he said, but not everybody’s like that. Some people just work to live. In other words, they, they might, they might enjoy their job. But once they leave their job, they finding meaning through other things outside of work. So it’s not, and work provides them with an opportunity to do those other things. And and, and, and I, I don’t think there’s a wrong and a right in that.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (11:38):

I really don’t. So, yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (11:41):

I wanted to hear from you Christy, where, where do you find your meaning?

Christy Mori (11:46):

I think for me, I find it through service actually, so service of others, and I think that is something I also found out much later in life because like yourself when I was younger, I was more ego-driven. So I really wanted to write the next best song I wanted to compose, like something that would win a Grammy. Like I, because in a sense, like I can really, in terms of your performance life in, in that sense when you’re in entertainment, it is very ego-driven and you are, you are not encourage, but the, the older Dodge, when you’re in entertainment is there’s a certain level of like faking it in a way, like you have to fake your confidence almost to make it real. And this is going to sound strange to some people who probably are not in that field is like, even if we didn’t feel confident, so eventually, like it, I think those sorts of competing I don’t know, interests maybe like of trying to make something, create something to leave you know, our market in the world.

Christy Mori (12:59):

I think those kinds of ideas sort of are driven by like just ego. Isn’t it? Like, we all want to be something make something. And, you know, when I was in visiting Hollywood a few much, actually more than a few years ago, what am I talking about? It was like, everybody wanted to make it. And what is all, yeah, like I want to be something like, I just remember talking to so many people and they were working in the hotel. Like everybody wanted to be an actor. Everybody wanted to be like, it was crazy, like dancer musicians. And I just thought this isn’t for me. I think at that time I was in my late twenties and I was thinking like, this is not going to be entirely for me because I don’t think I could be healthy and live in these terms.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (13:56):


Christy Mori (13:56):

Yeah. So, and so the work that I did, whether it was I’ve done a lot of different kinds of work was whether it was in hospitality, which is all about service, all about service. And sometimes I don’t, I don’t think I appreciate enough because I mean, when you’re working in hospitality everybody’s mostly doing something else. Like hospitality is a very flexible industry and it’s also creative industry. So a lot of people are doing something else on top of being in hospitality. So I, yeah, I think through that the through many years of just like learning how to serve people, I realized that was a greater purpose, but it didn’t mean it was just you know, doing like a dinner service. It was like a greater service in terms of, you know, if I can listen better or so everything I think now I want to do is related to some level of yes, serving people so that they can have, you know, a better life as well.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (15:05):

Yeah. That’s wonderful. And it’s interesting that you kind of went from like a cycle or circle in a way you went from that kind of ego state to this selfless state in a way, because when you’re, when your purpose is to serve others, there’s, it’s like the opposite end of that.

What Does Having Purpose Mean

Christy Mori (15:20):

Yeah. Yeah. It’s and it’s better, I think, because it’s like, when you’re just serving yourself, I think that’s where a lot of depression, or I don’t know if this is a psych college, you know, this is like a psychological thing, but it’s like the more focused you’re on what you’re doing, what I’m like, I, I feel like, you know, our world is a bit smaller, but it’s like the more I get to kind of open up and see what have interest in what other people are doing and maybe go alongside them and, you know, try to, you know, help them benefit in whatever way. I just think like, my world is bigger and yeah, I think one, one way to counteract people who are feeling really down is just opening up to other people and seeing how we can be of service to them. So we’re not focused so much on our own problems and, you know, yeah.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (16:21):

Well, I think sometimes it can help take people outside of their own internal story as well. So I think that that’s where the benefit comes. I think sometimes taking that that approach where you’re serving others or, or seeing the world in that way, it actually takes you out of the internal stories that you tell yourself in your head. So it takes you away from you know, that focus on, on, on you, which I think is you’re right. I mean, it can kind of lead to some adverse effects at times. And, and we should sort of, as a caveat, just say that, you know the causes of depression are complex and varied, but, but what we’re talking about is I guess, the feeling of being down and blue and, you know, not having perhaps sometimes not feeling great about ourselves.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (17:11):

And I think that also, because if, if our purpose is very ego-driven, the stakes are all about us, so that, you know, in some ways the, we, we put a lot of expectation on ourselves in that way as well. So I think, you know, what you’re saying is absolutely spot on there. And there is actually you know, I know that for young people, so there was this great study, it was an Australian study, it was a temporary study and they followed, you know, babies and generations of, you know, kind of children from one year to the next. And it was a sort of repeated study where they sort of had the question of, you know, what, what actually predicts people going into a healthy young adult life from, you know, say the teenage stages to a young adult life. And, and a lot of a lot of the kind of variation that those researchers found came from the fact that, yeah, you know, young people are involved in some kind of community or some kind of, you know, some kind of service that’s beyond them, you know, is that they’ve got a responsibility to a group of people that’s outside of their family.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (18:24):

Then they’re more likely to, to sort of find a pathway to a more healthier and young adult life. So, yeah, so you’re kind of, you know, we all eat your intuitive senses is a big spot on there, Christy.

Christy Mori (18:37):

Wow. Yeah. I work with young people a lot. Now just in my other life, I guess, in my non podcast life. Yeah. And I, I could totally see, like, there’s so much better together, like in a group than they are alone. Cause when I ha when I talk to them alone, like they’re in their heads and you know, they just have so many worries and stresses and it’s like when they gathered together in a group and there’s, you know, activities going on and they kind of get to focus on that. I just feel like they’re a lot better. I’m not saying this, this this is a complete solution I’ve just noticed like, yeah. Yeah. I’ve just noticed that. Yeah, there, yeah. One, one person I’m particularly thinking about, you know, when I have her alone, she’s very, very down a lot. Yeah. But yeah, when we go and see other people together, it’s like her energy is a little bit more lifted, so, and she always says, I feel so much better after coming, you know? So yeah. There is real benefit into yeah. Being with others and being in community as well.

I Don’t Know My Purpose

Christy Mori (19:50):

Yeah. And I think that a lot of young people struggle with perhaps not having the purpose. And, you know, we’ve like through our stories, just from this short conversation, we’re having, it’s very clear that you don’t just, you know, you don’t just develop your purpose. Some people do, they have it from when they’re very young and they go for it and that’s their, their life story, you know? And, and it unfolds that way. But most people don’t, they don’t find that thing that drives them and motivates them from a kind of internal sense until later. And, but it’s very hard to kind of say that to young people, especially teenagers who are, you know, being forced to make decisions about.

Christy Mori (20:31):

What do you want to do, you’re 18. You must know everything.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (20:34):

And a lot of the conversations they’re having are around, well, what do you want to do now? And what do you want to study? And where do you want to go? And what’s your plan. And it’s, you know, that puts a lot of pressure on, on people. So, and not having a purpose also puts pressure because there’s a central much. What, why am I here? You know, what’s it all for? And so I think that but, but having a conversation with other people about death purpose can help even young people then find you know, it kind of tastes to learn some of what they, what might be the DME. So I think, I think we don’t have enough conversations about meaning and purpose in our lives. I think that that, that we you know, especially in, in Australia, it’s a bit of a cultural cringe to have that conversation about what really drives me.

Christy Mori (21:31):

What’s my purpose in life. We actually don’t often have those conversations, but I think that they can be very inspiring. And I think we don’t have those conversations. Christy, Christy, in Australian culture, national culture, there is this kind of it’s sort of related to a bit of a tall poppy syndrome in that we, we sort of we kind of prefer people to, to be less less grand, less, less affirmative about their strengths. Yeah, exactly. And it doesn’t do us any justice really, but it’s just a bit of the you know the culture.

Christy Mori (22:05):

It’s probably the same and it’s actually probably the same in Canadian culture. I know in Japanese culture, it’s pretty much like that, but in a much more severe extent, I would say like, people really are very like, oh, I’m not sure, but it’s like, even if there are sure they don’t want to come across arrogant or, but even that you just think like, oh, like it would be much better if people were just upfront and honest and they could maybe inspire someone else. But like in that culture, it’s sort of like, well, I don’t want people to think, you know, I’m much better than them, so I’m just gonna hide back because yeah. Or they don’t want other people’s expectations, I think as well. So, yeah. Yeah. So I think now, like, as we’re talking, I’m sure some people are like, what if I don’t have purpose? And I’m not a teenager and I’m an adult, like, you know, we’re talking about young people and what if, you know, people, there’s a lot of people I’m sure, like in both of our lives, who are adults and they, they’re not like, sure about their purpose, they have work, they have jobs, they have families and they have lives, but they’re not like sure if they’re living their purpose. So maybe we can talk a little bit about that. Yeah,

Dr. Josephine Palermo (23:21):

Absolutely. And, you know, they will be people like that. Christy. Absolutely. And so I, and I think that in some ways there areas I think we often think of a purpose as needing to be a big thing that we aspire to, you know, we exist to do this big thing and it doesn’t have to be this big thing. And so I think people just, if they’re floundering and thinking, I don’t have a purpose. I don’t know what, what, what, you know, where meaning is for me, I think one of the ways to sort of, kind of connect to that is firstly, to reflect on what, what activities are do I do in my life that where I feel energized. So in other words, when I’m doing this particular thing, I feel very energized by that. So you reflect on that activity.

Christy Mori (24:16):

So for example, when I’m bringing communities of people together, I feel very energized. You know, I don’t have to be, I don’t, there has to be, I don’t even have to get a benefit from it. I just feel jazzed. You know, I feel very energized when I do that. And then the other question to ask yourself is what kind of you know, where, where are you noticing the world outside yourself? So, so for example, what are the things you care about? What do you notice about the people around you about maybe it could be, you know, topics, it could be world events, you know, what is it that you really care about or notice more than others? And that, again, kind of is honing into the things that maybe you’re driven to explore in terms of in terms of a purpose and, and really a purpose statement is, you know, I’m, I’m here to do this.

Christy Mori (25:14):

You know, I, I enjoy waking up every morning because part of that is leading me to this, this purpose that I have. And so it’s, it may be that just having a chat to either a friend or a coach about some different ideas around that you know, and then maybe trying some things, because it doesn’t, it does, you don’t have to have the one purpose to drive your your every day you can eat, but, but it’s it’s only your people are feeling a bit of it that sort of feeling of discomfort, because they can’t articulate that purpose. That’s when maybe they want, they, you know, they should try some of these strategies that I’m talking about. So where, where are you feeling energized? What are you noticing in the world world? Talk to a friend about some of those things that, you know, you might be doing, she’s sentenced with a friend and say, you know, I exist too.

Christy Mori (26:17):

Well I get a lot of meaning out of my day when I’m doing this. So those kind of the existential questions. And so some people might really want to hook on to that. There might be other people that Christy who don’t need that at all. They are really happy with life because they are achieving certain things. They’re working in a job that they really like, you know, maybe it’s whatever their family situation is, is around them. They get a lot of joy out of that, around that. Having some big purpose that’s outside of themselves may not be part of what they need.

Christy Mori (27:00):

Yeah. It doesn’t have to be that grand purpose.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (27:02):

It does not have to be that grand. It does not have it. And so, so you take the expectation off, you take the grand jury off. You know, you can, you can really admire someone who has a very strong purpose and maybe he’s achieving some things around that purpose, but that does not have to be you particularly if you’re finding joy in all this, those other things that I’ve just talked about. If there’s some, you know, if you’re feeling, if you’re feeling a state of happiness, I think that we, we actually, particularly in a, in a kind of Western society, we, we put too much emphasis on achievement and on achieving something big and grand, et cetera. And it, it may not be that it may not be that at all for some people.

Christy Mori (27:56):

Mm. But it’s like, we are fed to think that that’s what it is to achieve purpose. Yeah. I always think about that expression where people say, oh, I didn’t think this, they achieved something. They say like, oh, I thought I would feel differently. Or I thought this would feel something more after the achievement comes. And it’s like, oh, there’s a great movie on Pixar called soul S O U S. Yeah.

Christy Mori (28:23):

I’ve watched. Have you seen it? I loved it. Yes. Yeah. Isn’t it.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (28:29):

John Battista,

Christy Mori (28:31):

Spoiler alert, I think here. So stop listening here if you, yeah, but at the end, I’m just going to talk about the end. I can’t remember the guy’s name, the main guy’s name. Do you, do you remember?

Dr. Josephine Palermo (28:44):

I know the singer’s name, I don’t know the character.

Christy Mori (28:48):

Yeah. The musician. And then he kind of gets his dream right. To perform on with it, this legendary jazz musician. But then he says to her, oh, I thought it would feel differently. He’s like, what do we do now? And she’s like, we do it all over again tomorrow night. And after that first performance with them, and it’s like, oh, I thought I had, you know, this would be different. It’s like he had placed so much importance on it. And then all those little moments of his life, which were actually significant moments, he’s so good. Like, yeah. I’m not explaining it very well

Dr. Josephine Palermo (29:25):

No, you are because he missed all those smaller moments because it wasn’t living up to that big purpose that he thought he was there to fulfill. And in fact, it was all those small moments in his life that were part of his purpose.

Christy Mori (29:43):

Yeah. And he didn’t see those moments as significant. There’s one, there’s one scene where it’s like all frozen. Like he’s just eating at a diner. He’s doing something mundane like walking down the street or something. He says, look at this, I’ve done nothing with my life. And it’s like, that’s what he had thought was nothing. And maybe, but to 22, like that little soul character, it was like everything to him. Yes. It was just perspective. And just thinking, what is something for us, I guess, and yeah. Yeah. Not like being fed what we’ve been fed about success and

Dr. Josephine Palermo (30:26):

Yeah, exactly.

Christy Mori (30:28):

Yeah. So I hope that helps some people. I’m not sure if it does. If, if you wanna watch soul, that’s really a great way to start actually. Right. That I feel like our conversation. I’m not sure if this is leading into us advertising for Pixar, which they don’t need any, they don’t need any more advertising, but yeah, it’s so good. So I feel like if somebody was having like a crisis, like existential crisis, I’d be like, just go to a quiet room and watch this movie and just see if there’s something that resonates. Yeah. Sounds

Dr. Josephine Palermo (31:03):

Good. Christy. I need to watch it again. I’m going to go and do that this week.

Christy Mori (31:07):

Yeah. Oh. Cause it was your birthday, right. And you were working throughout your birthday.

Dr. Josephine Palermo (31:11):

I know. So, yeah. So this weekend I’m going to, well, I’m taking care of my nephew, but we’ll watch it together.

Christy Mori (31:18):

Oh, that’s a great one. Yeah.

Christy Mori (31:20):

Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah. So everybody, I think we’re just going to wrap up here, but thanks for listening in on this conversation. And if you have any questions or comments about this topic about purpose personally, we’d love to hear it. Please email us that [email protected] and everybody stay safe, take care. We wish you well, and we will catch you next time. Bye for now.



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