“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” – Leonardo da Vinci
In our recent audience survey, you said you wanted more insights, tips, and tools on setting and achieving goals… and we listened!
So, let’s start with the basics: How often have you said (or heard others say), “I don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life.”
I’ve heard this lament from college graduates to successful CEOs and everyone in between. One of the main reasons people get stuck in work and life is because they haven’t taken the time to understand themselves – their purpose.
Your purpose is your WHY; it explains why you are here on this earth and what role you are supposed to play.
If you want to set goals that energize you, and ones that you will achieve, you need to start with understanding your purpose. The small investment of time you take to understand your purpose can improve everything.
How can you better understand your purpose?
As always, the most powerful insights begin with questions. Here are some that have been highly effective for millions of people. Grab some paper, or use Notes on your smartphone to jot down your initial answers:
- What do I love to do?
- What am I exceptionally good at?
- What am I passionate about?
- What do others say I’m good at?
- Is there a significant need in the world that I feel drawn to?
- At my funeral, what do I want people to say about me? – This is a variation on leadership expert Dr. Stephen Covey’s idea, “begin with the end in mind.” For me, rather than ask how I will be remembered, I focus on the present, and ask, “What do I want my life to count for, now and in the long run?”
In his bestselling book The Purpose Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren leads readers to ask three questions:
- Why do I exist?
- Why am I here?
- What is my purpose?
Steven Pressfield, author of Do The Work, suggests we ask these questions when determining why we do the work we do:
- What do we do?
- For whom do we do it?
Leadership expert Michael Hyatt suggests these:
- What am I particularly talented at?
- What meets a significant need in the world?
So, answer this for yourself:
- What do I want my life to count for?
How you answer this question gives you a foundation for your personal development goals, this year, and for years to come.
Companies and nonprofits create “mission statements” all the time to ensure they are heading in the right direction.
As you review your answers to the questions so far, reflect on them and draft a mission statement, or purpose statement. A purpose (vision or mission) statement is individual to your personal development – it can capture your talents, interests, and core values.
To spur your thinking, here are some examples:
“To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference.” — Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Company
“To have fun in my journey through life and learn from my mistakes.” — Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group
“To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” — Oprah Winfrey, Founder of the Oprah Winfrey Network
You don’t need to go on a retreat or close yourself off from the world to write your purpose statement.
That might be useful, but you may find that unnecessary because a lot of the answers are already within you.
No need to over-engineer it – if you do, there’s the potential you will give in to perfectionism, and not craft one at all.
Just keep it simple and don’t underestimate how much your day will be transformed if you just stop and think about this for even five minutes.
My purpose statement reads like this:
“To use my experiences as a serial entrepreneur to help people from all walks of life to unleash and achieve their potential.”
I will continue to refine and grow into this for the rest of my life. It certainly has changed as I grew through my experiences, especially after I got married and had children of my own. Our sons are now my top priority in terms of how my purpose is fulfilled.
All of the purpose or vision statements here are broad enough to be useful in the variety and volume of opportunities in our lives – yours can be too.
You can use a purpose statement to help you focus every day and to encourage yourself in and through goals and the inevitable opportunities and challenges you will encounter.
Your turn: What do you want your life to count for?