Aligning Personal Purpose With Your Work

Brittany Bainum, founder of Tradeworthy Jobs, talks with NAWIC Today about her 15 years working in the construction industry, serving in several HR leadership roles, and how she is mindfully and intentionally breathing personal purpose into her career.

There’s a quote - “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” When you talk about aligning personal purpose with your work, where does the intersection of “work” meet with “passion and personal purpose?”

Finding your passion and personal purpose certainly doesn't happen overnight. For me, it took more than two and a half years to truly determine my purpose. In short, I’ve identified my purpose as “to lead with joy and hope by serving first. I do so with honest love, responsible leadership, and championing growth.” What I pieced together was that I show up so that other women will show up. 

Your purpose can be simple to start and evolve over time as you do. Your first thought could simply to be a good mom or dad. That's purpose enough in my book! Then when things get nutty and feel like they are falling off track, you can recenter and point back to your original purpose. Next thing you know you’re pointing in the right direction again. If I'm taking care of my child the best I can, then I'm living my purpose. Your purpose could also be to be a strong office manager or production manager - to bring order to others' day. Move on that and I bet you'll find your day feeling and looking better than the one before - because now you're showing up with purpose and intention - and that's the magic behind the magician. 

When identifying your purpose it sounds like you need to be patient and have grace with yourself - which isn’t always easy to do. How do you give yourself the space to mindfully determine your purpose?

I recall when another mom colleague that I had worked with left the workforce. For some reason it was really hard for me to swallow. It had nothing to do with me, but all of a sudden I started to question my own efforts: Should I be working? Am I doing the right thing? She's probably leaving because it's the right thing. Am I good enough mom? And so on... Fast forward to my personal development with a coach, and today I'm 100% confident in the choices I make around working and having three kids. Do I need flexibility? Sure. Might it take me a minute to get unfrazzled from the doctor’s appointment, coffee run, and losing my keys because one of the kids left them in a planted pot? 100% But what I've found is that oftentimes, my superpower is that when I look around a meeting room with my peers in this industry,, not fitting the mold is actually the power in itself.  Being an outlier is not a bad thing. I bring a perspective, an angle, a thought that often many of my male counterparts don't have. So my purpose is around showing up and my passion is that you (as a female) will have the confidence to do so as well. 

Ensuring it’s authentic, where do you truly start? How does one breathe personal purpose into their daily work in a meaningful and not forced way?

As I learned from my work with Positive Foundry, an organization dedicated to teaching skills such as identifying your purpose, it starts with your strengths. List them, say them, know them. Need to discover them? Use a tool like VIA Strengths (Values in Action) as a starting point. But know what strengths you bring to the table. Questions to help you unfold them could be:

- How do you know this is your strength?

- How do you action this strength regularly?

- How do you use this strength in challenging times?

- What other possibilities does this strength bring you?

- Who else do you know with this strength? (either someone you know or someone famous)

Once you’ve identified your strengths, how do you continue to move the needle to identify your purpose?

There are a few steps that help you determine your purpose and will help you arrive at your purpose statement. The beauty of a purpose statement is that it’s one line, one action, one intent that only belongs to you. You can adjust it as you grow and evolve in your life and career - and it’s also your “guiding light” - whenever you need it, you can always find it as a reminder of who you are on this  journey and where you want to go. Again thanks to Positive Foundry, the actions are:

Know what defines you

To move forward you need to be in the right mindset - so think of a time when you were at your best. Close your eyes and think back. What were you doing? Who were you with? What was happening around you? And in the end, how did you feel? Who are YOU at your BEST? 

List your values

Start by asking yourself: “What are my values?” What did you learn from your parents, siblings, family? What are your cultural values? 

List of strengths

Next, go back to your strengths. List them out. What are you good at? What do others say you are good at? Why are you good at them? What gives you energy? 

List your passions

What are your passions? What are four activities that you enjoy? What do you really like to do? What did you really enjoy as a child? These are likely words that end in -ing. 

List your labels

Next are your labels. What are all the labels you've been given? Mother, teacher, runner, reader, etc. What things do you love to do? What activities give you energy? 

List your goals and achievements

What are your goals? What do you truly want to achieve? What do you want to achieve in this lifetime? What do you want to accomplish? Is it raising children, starting your own business, changing lives? 

Determine your legacy

Finally, what is your legacy? What does the world need? How do you want to make an impact on the world? What would need to happen in your life so you could say your life was 'well lived'?

It’s also important to note that as you work your way through these steps, you should continually be asking the question WHY. Why do you want to define your purpose? 

Once these attributes have been identified, how do we bring it full circle? 

We can find our purpose at the intersection of love, skill, and need. When we love what we do, when we know what we are good at doing, and identify what the world needs, there sits our purpose. Reflect on all the writing from above and then build a purpose statement. Why are you here? How can you impact the world? Nothing you write here can be wrong! It's a starting point and your purpose statement can evolve as much as you do!

It’s so easy to get caught in the go through the motions of work. How do you keep things fresh and continue to pump purpose into what you do? How do you adapt when things get stale?

I think the benefit of defining and knowing your purpose actually comes back up/proves its value is when things get tough. When the situation is too hard, or the feelings become overwhelming and all you want to do is throw in the towel - recalling and reflecting on your purpose is actually going to help you build the resilience to keep going. When you say, I can't do this anymore - your purpose says, here’s why you can. The number of times that shame has whispered to me, 'you're not good enough. you don't know enough' is uncountable and I think it's sometimes even easier to feel that way in an industry where women represent less than 1% while the national average hovers around 50%. So it's less a question of staleness and maybe more around, when will you really harness the power of your purpose?

You bring up a good point -- women need to continue to support each other in this industry. Our industry can be raw and real,  yet also so incredibly rewarding. How did you get your start in the construction business?

Construction is truly all I know. It’s in my genes. My dad owned a contracting company that specialized in drywall, floors, and ceilings. I remember walking into buildings and having him talk about the ceiling they did in it and the smell of new carpet is all too reminiscent of my childhood. He would bid jobs with colored pencils (and probably still does) and on occasion I would hit up a job site with him and hold the tape measure. A dirty warehouse with a two person office, a sample carpet room, and space for a receptionist/accountant has been part of my story since birth. To me it's comfortable and familiar, not intimidating.

The world looks very different than it did six months ago - including how we work. Despite tackling this new norm of balancing work, homeschooling and a pandemic, how do you stay sane and keep purpose top if mind. 

Truly, when things get tough, lean on your purpose for strength. Taking a breather and coming back to your purpose will always help ground you. A personal example, when I heard our local school district was doing a hybrid model with the lingering thought that the school year would actually be starting 100% online, I remember feeling completely debilitated. I'm a mom of three kids with a fulltime job with expanding duties and a start-up, how on earth am I going to do this? I gave myself time to feel all the emotions of fear, sadness, overwhelm, anxiety... where I landed was "I figured it out once, I'll figure it out twice" My purpose says I'll lead us through this - and that's exactly what we have to do. Most mom's are leaders at heart - just watch who eats dinner last every night (in reference to Simon Sinek's concept - leaders eat last). 

You are balancing not only your kids and full time job - but also a new digital start up called Tradeworthy Jobs. It’s a new tool and approach for the construction industry. What does the app provide its users?

We are on a new journey. Our intent is to shake things up when it comes to filling jobs in the construction industry. Tradeworthy Jobs’ ultimate goal is to serve both construction employers - and potential construction employees - and get to the future faster. Born out of the frustration with current recruiting methods and tools, Tradeworthy Jobs directly connects employers with construction candidates - truly adapting to the users needs. It’s new, it’s exciting and we are continually evolving and adapting to our users needs. 

As construction firms create positions, our job is to serve them to the masses. The Tradeworthy Job app also allows employers to build a comprehensive company profile, allows candidates to message employers directly and gives candidates the ability to build their own profile with their experience (almost like a LinkedIn profile for construction candidates). We are encouraging readers of Today to give Tradeworthy Jobs a try for FREE - check out for more information. We hope you will join this journey with us. 

Byline bio

With more than 15 years in the construction industry serving in a variety of HR leadership roles, and a rooted understanding of the challenges connecting construction employers to potential employees, Brittany launched Tradeworthy Jobs - an app and web-based platform dedicated to bridging that gap because of construction employers and candidates. Brittany earned her undergraduate and MBA degrees from Capital University, where she also played on the varsity volleyball team. Active in her central Ohio community, Brittany is married to Jason and has three amazing children, Ellie, Hali, and Brock.

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