I would bet that anecdotally, 85% of my clients absolutely DO NOT KNOW their purpose. They work hard, they’re good people, they show up, they’re good parents, they pay their bills, they’re growing their lives. But when you ask them, “What’s your purpose?” They respond with, “I don’t know,” or, “That’s a great question. I’m not sure!”
Or, the most common thing is people give me their values. Now, values are very important, and that is also a part of the Model of the World exercise, but values really drive the environments that you ascribe to, and there’s both “towards” values that you want and “away” values that you don’t want. So, you don’t want sad or angry or depressed or frustrated. You do want love or happiness or freedom.
And then, most people will generally talk about some form of roles or responsibilities. It’s being a good parent, or a good sibling, or roll into other arenas. And they might be “internal” things they want. “I’m here to learn, I’m here to laugh, and I’m here to enjoy my journey”. Learning, laughing, loving, growing, those are values that you want. They’re not the purpose for being alive.
Now, to help you understand why most people don’t know their purpose, there are three reasons most frequently encountered as to why people struggle with their purpose:
1. Their purpose is just too large. If you ask a four-year-old, they’re going to have this energized raison d’etre, but they might not always connect that to a purpose. But the challenge is, as we get older, to connect to a purpose, it is just too large. It has implications that are greater than the person perceives.
If it’s, “I’m going to create world peace.” Or, “I’m going to solve cancer, and there’s some scary part of me that believes that.” It becomes too big for them to declare, so they will “pretend” they don’t know what it is.
2. They are too small to fulfill the purpose. It might be a noble purpose, it just doesn’t rise to the level of solving cancer or world hunger. But even at a noble or even mundane level, they don’t perceive that they are worthy of such a purpose.
It’s not that the purpose is too big, it’s that they are too small. So, then they go, “Oh, I don’t know. That’s a great question.” Or they don’t talk about it, think about it, or ask about it.
3. Now, the actual biggest reason and the thing I encountered the most, people believe if they embrace and declare their purpose, their life will have to change too much and they are not ready for that.
They might say, “I’m married. I’ve got kids. I’ve got a mortgage. I just can’t say I’m here to do this because now I have to go to medical school.” Or, “I’ve already started down my path. I can’t. I don’t want to. I won’t.”
Here are some key distinctions to remember about purpose:
- They tend to be action verb oriented. They are not characteristics and attributes that we call that values. Our purpose is not about us, it’s about why we’re here and who we’re here to impact and serve.
- Our purpose is not about us, it is about why we are here. Typically, it will have some value to others and/or the “Universe.” Whether it’s God, or faith, the Creator, metaphysical, or something deeper that we connect to.
- When you arrive at your action verb, it is often helpful to ask “do what for whom?” In other words, the action verb will have an outcome, and it will have a target audience.
So, to really dial this in, I highly encourage you to design your one sentence about your purpose. And then once you have the sentence, then you can turn it into an “I have a dream” speech (which is a very powerful tool we teach for creating a future vision of your life), but you have to know the pillar or the pillars that this is built on.
Now, below you will see examples that I’ve collected in my client work throughout the years, so these are real clients. This is what their one sentence came down to be. And you can read these, you can think about what yours will be.
When people understand their sentences, they just absolutely explode on every level with power, with passion. This purpose becomes ignited.
Preface each of them with this: “I, (state your name,) see, hear, feel, and know with great certainty that the purpose of my life is….
… to create and teach abundance.
… to make connections with love.
… empower the truth in others.
… to create and discover beautiful environments for people to thrive.
… to help grow and heal those in need.
… to nurture and foster growth.
… to teach people the joy that is God.
… to give the inspiring light of illumination to others.
… to be creative and share that with others.
… to learn, grow, and share what I know.
… to provide a safe harbor to those in need.
… to give light, love, and energy to others through connections.
… to nurture, mentor and teach everyone in my life.
… to teach patriotism.
… to embrace the ordinary and reveal its magic.
… to teach people how to love.
… to help others recognize their value to mankind.
… to make people’s life better through technology.
… to be a guide in the wilderness.
Go make it a magnificent day!