A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose

Posted by Donald Latumahina

Everyone wants to have a fulfilling life. Unfortunately, many people miss a key ingredient to have it: finding their life purpose. They may spend years of their life only to find at the end that they have done the wrong things. Many others achieve fame and financial success but feel empty inside.

Don’t make the same mistake. Your time is too precious to waste.

Why You Should Find Your Life Purpose

Finding Life PurposeHere are three reasons why you should find your life purpose:

1. It gives meaning to everything you do

Your life purpose makes everything you do meaningful. You could be successful outside, but if you don’t find meaning you will feel empty inside.

2. It directs and guides you

Not only can your life purpose give you meaning, but also it can give you clear direction of where to go in life. It helps you make big decisions in life. People who don’t find their life purpose don’t have a strong foundation upon which to make their decisions. They most likely will just follow popular opinions.

Besides helping you make big decisions, your life purpose can also guide you in making small decisions. When you have two options in front of you, it will be easier for you to decide if you know what your life purpose is.

3. It motivates you

In life there are always difficult times to go through. You may experience failures or rejections. In such situations, your life purpose can give you the motivation you need to keep going.

How can your life purpose do that? By helping you see beyond the horizon. What you face in front of you may seem difficult but your life purpose helps you see beyond it.

Finding Life Purpose Is Not Easy

It’s never easy to find life purpose. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult things to do. Here are two reasons why finding life purpose is difficult:

1. It doesn’t have a universal formula

Life purpose is a personal thing. Everyone has different purpose and different way to find it. What apply to me might not apply to you and vice versa.

2. It takes time

This is perhaps the main reason why many people never find their life purpose. They want results instantly. Unfortunately, finding life purpose doesn’t work that way. It’s more like a journey than a one-time stop.

Tips to Find Your Life Purpose

While finding life purpose is a personal experience, there are a few tips that can help you find it. Here they are:

1. Don’t expect instant result

I’ve written above that finding life purpose takes time so don’t expect to find it soon. It’s a journey and rather than complaining about your journey you’d better enjoy it.

2. Identify your strengths

Your life purpose is related to your personal strengths. If you are strong in learning, for instance, it’s likely that your life purpose is related to learning. One way to find personal strengths is through StrengthsFinder test which can be found in the book StrengthsFinder 2.0.

3. Identify your passions

I’ve written about passions multiple times here. Your passions are things you do because of love and not because of external reward such as money or recognition. Find and develop your multiple passions.

4. Identify your causes

Identify the causes that matter to you. Is there a condition in the world that makes you feel discontent? Is there a condition that makes you feel the urge to do something about it?

5. Find the intersection between your strengths, passions, and causes

Now that you have identified your strengths, passions, and causes, you can find the intersection between them:

  • Pick a cause from your list of causes.
  • From your list of strengths, pick those that can help you improve the situation in the cause.
  • From the strengths you pick, find the ones you can work on with enthusiasm.

You can repeat this exercise until you find a cause which have strong intersection with your strengths and passions. At the end of the exercise, you will find a cause you deeply care about for which you can effectively do something with enthusiasm. This is a clear sign of your life purpose.

6. Write a personal mission statement

Based on what you find in the previous step, write a personal mission statement. It’s your one-liner that concisely communicate what your life purpose is. Don’t worry about getting it right on the first try. Just write down what you’ve got and build upon it.

7. Do something about the intersection

Your one-liner is your guide to finding your life purpose. It may still be broad, so you should keep refining it. The way to refine it is by working on it. Make serious effort to act upon what you’ve found. Increase your competence and find ways to contribute to the cause you choose. Your effort will give you feedback that will either reinforce or diminish your interest on the subject.

8. Act based on the feedback to refine your personal mission statement

If the feedback from the previous step reinforces the purpose you’ve found, over time you will get better understanding of what exactly your life purpose is and how you should fulfill it. You may create new one-liners as you find new clues. This process of refining may take years but you are going in the right direction. You just need to keep your eyes and mind open to recognize every new clue regarding your strengths, passions and causes.

***

I wrote my first personal mission statement in 2004 and it stayed for three years until I wrote my second (and current) one in 2007. I walk with it and I’m getting better and better idea about the precise nature of my life purpose.

I enjoy my journey. I hope you do too.

This article is part of September 2008 theme: Fulfilling Career

Photo by irisb477

Categories: Purpose

Please use your real name and note that I reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

46 Responses so far.

  1. Shanel Yang says:

    Great post and topic, Donald! Finding your purpose in life is a joy and a duty. Your tips should help people figure it out. I share my tips on how to do that, too, in my series “All About You!” at http://shanelyang.com/2008/07/18/all-about-you/

  2. Jeff F says:

    Finding your life purpose is definitely something that is unique to the individual. For some it can be clear what it is, and to others it does indeed take time to find.

    Many times, your life purpose will find you. Just don’t let it pass you by when it does!

    Nietzsche said “Life without music is a mistake.” I couldn’t agree more, but feel even more strongly about “life without passion is a mistake”

  3. Rob says:

    POINT 2: Do you believe that identifying and acting upon personal weaknesses is also important? I believe that many people don’t accept their own weaknesses and by doing so their weakness actually work against them. Surely by having an awareness of what you don’t do so well you can ask for help when faced with certain situation where you know that your weakness will become apparent? What do you think?

    POINT 4: Surely you may be concerned about something but it’s not inside of your circle of influence? Wouldn’t it be better to make a clear distinction here?

  4. Shanel,

    Finding your purpose in life is a joy and a duty.

    A joy and a duty. I like the way you put it!

    Jeff,

    Many times, your life purpose will find you.

    I agree. What you need to have is a prepared mind to recognize your life purpose when it passes. Hopefully the tips above can help us have a prepared mind.

    Rob,
    Regarding life purpose, I think identifying your strengths is more important than identifying your weaknesses. The reason is because I believe your life purpose is related to your strengths and not your weaknesses.
    Knowing your weaknesses, however, is helpful to know when to ask for help (as you said).
    For point 4, yes, what I mean here is something inside your circle of influence. You should be able to do something about it or it can’t be your purpose.

  5. A personal mission statement is so important. I once learned that when progress is measured progress improves. When progress is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates!

  6. Arts Musings says:

    I believe life purpose is the key to living a happy and fulfilling life. Is it possible that “mid-life crisis” is merely a search for more meaning and purpose in our lives. I know that was the case for me.

    Discovering my purpose immediately changed my life. This didn’t happen overnight, just like you said, but rather was a journey of introspection. From there, designing my mission statement was fairly easy.

    Here’s the great part…everything I do, professionally and personally, is in alignment with my purpose and the mission statement I created. Work is fun because it’s not only what I’m meant to do, but it brings out the best in me – my strengths. Play time is just more fun because I now surround myself with people that support me rather than hold me back.

    You have some great tips and tools and suggestions for readers to find their own path. Here’s one more that we’ve found helpful to others:

    Look back on your life and identify when you’ve been the happiest. What was it about those situations that made you happy? Was there a sense of fulfillment and if so, why? Did you make someone laugh. Did you help someone through a tough time? Were you doing something you love to do?

    When you look back at these times, you’ll begin seeing a pattern. This may make it easier for you to identify your purpose when you combine it with your natural strengths.

    Thanks for the great information!

  7. […] Finding Your Life Purpose | Life Optimizer Post that suggests working to your strengths, finding a passion and writing a mission statement. I made some comments here about thinking about your weaknesses too plus understanding the difference between your circle of concern and circle of influence when trying to identify “causes” […]

  8. […] life is messed up >> Take responsibility, YES you did this>> Read zen habits>> do Finding purpose exercise>>Wait for an irresistible urge to radically change your life>> Give in>>Live […]

  9. Fran says:

    Your purpose has a lot to do with your “Contract” Confused? Yeah, I was too.

    Fact, if you do not have purpose, you die.

    The question to ask is are you on purpose, or have you created coping styles to help you work around your true purpose?

  10. […] Learner      A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose Fifteen Ways to Have Cheap Fun With Your Kids Using a $1 End Roll of […]

  11. […] Latumahina presents A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose posted at Life […]

  12. […] presents A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose posted at Live Life to the […]

  13. […] Latumahina presents A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose posted at Life […]

  14. Arts Musings,

    Look back on your life and identify when you’ve been the happiest.

    Great suggestion. I agree, doing that can help us identify our purpose.

    Frank,

    Fact, if you do not have purpose, you die.

    That’s a truth that sadly many people don’t realize. When we don’t have a purpose, we don’t live our own life.

  15. […] Latumahina presents A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose posted at Life […]

  16. […] but is one happy? Can one enjoy the riches that have been collected through hard work? You can find purpose in your life too. Remember that it takes time, there is no secret formula and don’t expect instant […]

  17. […] many people miss a key ingredient to have it: finding their life purpose. Donald presents A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose posted at Live Life to the […]

  18. […] Latumahina presents A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose posted at Life […]

  19. Thanks for spreading the word about purpose and how important it is in one’s life. I’ve found that passions, and strengths may be closely related, but not always the path to purpose. I’ll look forward to more from you on Purpose!

  20. Michelle,
    It’s true that passions and strengths aren’t always the path to purpose, but I think they are useful clues. Thanks for stopping by!

  21. Ruth says:

    Sometimes it takes a difficult time to make our life purpose known. Author Barbara Techel says that when her dog Frankie became paralyzed after an accident, that’s when she found her true purpose and wrote the children’s book “Frankie, The Walk ‘n’ Roll Dog” to teach others about overcoming challenges.

  22. […] to find your purpose in life because it gives you meaning and direction in everything you do. Read A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose for more tips on […]

  23. Hi iam a lifecoach,I do believe some of what you say is true ,however I have found my lifes purpose and I share my experiences with clients,I believe when you find your purpose that you can share it but you will find that you need to get paid.Everything is a game of give and take ,thats what keeps lifes wheel turning,nothing for nothing.You may of heard the saying,easy come easy go.a question for you and for others. Why is it,excitememt and depression two real feelings but not true.Thanks for listening.My email if you need to contact me for lifecoaching or answer to question.patohayden@gmail.com

  24. qiusongtang says:

    thank you very much! you are great!

  25. Greg says:

    Hi!

    Thanks! I found this your guide useful.

    Check out this site there was also alot free useful defining on life purpose
    http://www.purpose-life.com

    Greg

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  28. Alan Furth says:

    One of the main stumbling blocks to find our life’s purpose can be that we feel confused as to what are our true passions in life. I have found that this is usually a result of being caught up in a soul-crushing line of work and a conformist attitude that engulfs us in a haze of apathy.

    In a recent blog post I share mu thoughts on how to break away from conformism, discovering what we are truly passionate about and going for it. I think you will find it complements nicely your thoughts on purpose…

    http://alanfurth.com/freedom-of-itch

  29. […] A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose […]

  30. Franck says:

    Interesting article Donald. I’ve just add a completary article on my blog. You can read it at :http://positivethinking.penseepositive.net/life/discovering-your-lifes-purpose/

    All the best.

    Franck

  31. mae claire loquillano says:

    life is what we make…do not allow the negative responces of others determine your value..trying hard is not bad,it is the way of achieving your goals in life.

  32. Franck says:

    I’m totally agree with you Mae Claire :-)

  33. Finding your purpose in life is such an important issue and I love to see articles just like this that help people come to the realization that it does not need to be life long struggle to find it.

    Simply we just need to take the time to think about the things we are already doing and expand on them.

    Excellent article and I will come back on a regular basis to look at this site.

    Thanks.

    Tim

  34. […] on the few things that are most fulfilling and give you the most return for your time and effort. Find your life purpose and use the 80/20 rule to choose the few important activities to focus […]

  35. […] for a while. Use the time to get a sense of clarity of your life and work. Reconnect with your life purpose and look at the big picture of your life. Are you on the right track? Are you doing the right […]

  36. Peaceful Greetings!

    While I certainly appreciate the entire post, I especially appreciate #s 4, 5 & 6 considering I have an ongoing series on my blog–Follow Your Bliss/Live Your Life Purpose.

    @ Rob: identify weaknesses; they’re our strengths waiting to be acknowledged and cultivated …

    I like this site. I shall return and check it out more when time permits!!

  37. Dr Paul Dyer says:

    One of my all time favorite quotes comes from theologian Frederick Buechner, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

    • Jennifer says:

      Wow. Reading that just floored me.

      Rather than finding that place (where my deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet) and calling that my purpose; I would say my purpose is the seeking of that place.

  38. Kevin says:

    “Finding your purpose may be challenging but once you discover it and start to live it, what used to be difficult will seem alot easier, even effortless”

  39. […] A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose – By Donald Latumahina from The Life Optimizer […]

  40. joshua says:

    i love this site

  41. David Kizler says:

    I like the clarity and focus of your post. Thanks!
    David

  42. Kaylor says:

    The link to the STRENGTHFINDER takes you to a book to buy on Amazon. Which takes you to an online test. Which gives you a fraction of the answer you seek, and over $500.00 to find out the rest. :(

  43. […] 原文:A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose 作者:Donald Latumahina (follow me on Twitter) 图片:hellobo 翻译:吴若童 […]