Connect with us

Career Development

What’s Your Purpose?


What's Your Purpose?

How would you respond if someone asked, “What’s your purpose?”

  • “If you take the time to figure out your purpose in life, I promise you will look back on it as the most important thing you will have ever learned.” – Clayton Christensen, How Will You Measure Your Life?
  • “[Your purpose statement is] the most important statement of your life. It defines who you are.” – Victor Strecher, Life On Purpose

In the late 1990s, with ideas from a few books and articles, I wrote my first Purpose Statement. It started out pretty long, jumbled, and overwhelming – definitely not something an 8-year-old could easily recite and understand (criteria one resource suggested). Eventually, to my surprise, with time and tweaking I was able to capture the entire essence of who I believe I am and what I’m here to do – personally, professionally, as a parent, and in all other roles – in a single sentence.

And not even a run-on sentence! 

Even more surprising, that sentence hasn’t changed much over the years.

To be honest, now I can’t quite imagine not having a clear, concise Purpose Statement. I refer to it in so many ways on a daily basis! For example:

  • First thing in my office each morning, I scan my Purpose Statement – along with my Vision, Values, and Guiding Principles – to remind me why I’m about to do the work I’m about to do.
  • I filter potential opportunities and obligations through it. If the activity doesn’t help me fulfill my purpose, that’s an instant red flag (and makes saying “no” much easier).
  • It guides all my decision-making.
  • If something feels “off” – i.e., I’m unmotivated, disconnected, angry, or upset – I can look at the core components of my purpose and almost always determine the source. This knowledge makes change much easier and my next actions much more clear.
  • It reminds me who I am and who I want to be at my core, regardless of messages I might hear from external sources.

The books cited at the start of this article resonate deeply with me – and both were random picks off the bookstore shelf. In particular, I am struck by both authors’ bold assertions that your Purpose Statement is essentially the most important thing you can ever uncover. It’s so true! My work and life have never been the same, and my clients over the years report the same.

Think about it: Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Gandhi, Mother Teresa… impactful leaders know their purpose, which guides their actions and fuels their courage. Purpose allows us to do what Christensen also advises: “Decide what you stand for. Then stand for it all the time.”

What’s your purpose? How does your Purpose Statement support your work, leadership, and life?

If you’ve written your Purpose Statement, I encourage you to keep it present and make it part of your daily activity. Feel free to engage the ideas I’ve presented here.

If you haven’t yet uncovered your purpose, consider enrolling in next month’s Write Your Purpose Statement course. After four weeks of guided activity – which includes proven worksheets, tools, and templates – you can expect to walk away with your clear, concise Purpose Statement.

Clarifying your purpose can elevate your experience to a whole new level and help others do the same. It can change your life, work, community, and world!

Either way, know that you matter. You are here for a purpose that only you can fulfill. Your positivity, leadership, and strength make a difference, and you make the world a better place by virtue of being you. Here’s to your meaningful work and purposeful life!

Continue Reading