Purpose. It’s Personal

Purpose is the reason for which something exists.

I wonder how many others struggle with having a sense of purpose. I didn’t consciously think about this question until fairly recently, but I believe it’s been in the back of my mind for a very long time.

Cancer changed the way I see many things.

Until diagnosed, I was content with my life. At least that’s what I told myself. After all, most of us are raised to be grateful for what we have, right? Two points became crystal-clear to me during my fight with the big C:

  • Being content does not mean you can’t have dreams.
  • Having dreams does not mean you are not grateful for what you have.

Our dreams keep us moving. They challenge us to be better versions of ourselves. Since cancer, some of my dreams have changed. Others have become more insistent. I still have dreams for just me, dreams some people would consider selfish, but the ones that tug at my heart and mind now involve others.

Achieving my dreams drive me closer to fulfilling my purpose whether I can fully articulate that purpose or not.

I think one of the reasons I landed in the Human Resources field,  and remain here, is that I enjoy helping others. It fills me with a sense of happiness that is intoxicating. Despite days that make me feel like a complete villain, there are many more good moments than bad.

I wonder how many people in the HR field have a similar drive to help others. Do you?

About the Author

April Kunzelman

April Kunzelman, PHR, has a wide range of experience in many aspects of personnel management. For over 10 years, she served as the HR Director for fatwallet.com, building an award-winning culture. April now spends her days working with the non-profit organization Chemo Cargo, aimed at assisting first-time chemotherapy patients. Connect with April on Twitter as @akunzel and @chemocargo.


April Kunzelman

Judy and Julie – thank you for your comments. To me, there is a big difference between having goals and having a purpose. While I don’t struggle with goals, I have struggled with purpose. I do wish that as a child the concept of purpose wrapped around my unique potential had been discussed, instead of appropriate career paths. So many people have potential beyond their jobs, and never have the encouragement/energy/time/persistence/etc to pursue.


I love that more people are asking this question. Though often we’re not pushed to consider it until we come up against ourselves – and sometimes we never do – I’m hopeful that more people will be exposed earlier and more often to the power of considering their purpose. As an HR exec my favorite part of the job was bringing issues down to earth, helping people see their way through the thicket of organizational thorns, and guiding them in their decisions to let go, fight, change, or leave. Inspiring purposeful engagement is what I do for leaders, employees and now students. Wouldn’t it be something if we taught our children to know themselves and choose their path based on their unique potential to contribute? Thank you for your post and for asking the question.

Judy Lindenberger

I just read another blog about purpose. The author said that she asked an audience of over 100 people how many of them thought about their purpose. Virually all hands went up. Then she asked how many people had a specific and definite purpose and only three hands went up. So the “aha reminder” for me is that purpose needs to be specifically defined. I do a lot of consulting with companies helping them develop successful mentoring programs. From my experience, and what the research shows, the most successful mentoring relationships are when the protege has written down very specific goals for the partnership. It’s the same when you are not in a mentoring relationship … make sure that your purpose is specific and written down. You’re much more likely to achieve it.

Happy New Year all!

April Kunzelman

MomCorpsNYC – I’ve always had goals, but I have to say if I had happened to kick the bucket with the cancer, I would not have had huge regrets. I consider that fairly content 🙂 I did however feel guilty for wanting more (having personal goals) before I got sick. That guilt is gone now.

It’s funny that the reasons we wanted to work in HR – helping and empowering – often tend to take a backseat. I’ve got those reasons back in my face now, and am working hard to consider them when I make decisions.


I couldn’t agree more. Although I’m not sure I’ve ever been content. I’m always setting new goals and wanting to achieve more. It’s unfortunate that it often takes a life changing event like cancer to make you realize. In any case, I’m glad to read you’ve found your calling in HR. Helping and empowering others is exactly why I wanted to work in HR.


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