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Life on Purpose: 15 Questions to Discover Your Personal Mission

Photo by Thomas Hawk

I believe that we were all sent here for a reason and that we all have significance in the world. I genuinely feel that we are all blessed with unique gifts. The expression of our gifts contributes to a cause greater than ourselves.

First, a personal story

Last year, I was running at full speed; chasing after my dream of money and ‘success’. However, I had forgotten why I was running. Luckily, I met Jim (not his real name). Jim had achieved all the financial goals I was reaching for. He had financial independence, several successful businesses, homes in multiple countries, and the luxury to afford the finest things money could buy.

Through hard work, persistence and sheer action; he had made it! But, Jim was not happy. He did not have the free time to enjoy his wealth. He wanted a family. He wanted peace. He wanted to live his life… but he was not able to. He had too many responsibilities, too much to lose, and too many things to protect. He had spent years building his castle, and now that it is complete, he is spending his time keeping it from eroding.

Getting to know Jim was a life altering and eye opening experience. His words snapped me out of my state of ‘unconsciousness’. It became clear to me that, “I did not want to spend the next 10 years chasing after money, only to find that I’ll be back at the same place I am at today; emotionally, mentally, and spiritually”. My ‘chase’ came to a screeching halt, everything was put on hold, and I spent the next two months re-evaluating my life and purpose.

These questions were running through my mind:

What am I chasing after? Why am I chasing it? What is my purpose? Why was I put here?

While reading “E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work“, I found myself in tears during the chapter on finding purpose. In that chapter, Michael Gerber asks the readers to do a visualization exercise. Through his guidance, he instructs you to vividly picture the day of your funeral. What do you want your eulogy to consist of? What would your lifetime achievements be? What would matter the most at the end of your life? Is it what you are doing right NOW?

I started writing. It began by listing all the things that are most important to me. I wrote down all the things I wanted to do. I re-visited my personal mission statement. I decided that whatever venture I commit to must align with my personal mission, my values and my goals. For every new opportunity that comes along, I would ask myself how it aligns with my goals. Regardless of how much money I could acquire, if the venture did not align with where I wanted to be, then I would not pursue it. Here is my personal mission statement:

To Empower, motivate and inspire people to living happier and more fulfilled lives.

Here are some of my values and goals:

  • What matters most is my connection with myself, being present and feeling blissful.
  • What I value most is having meaningful relationships with people. Being able to connect with people on deep levels.
  • I plan to be financially independent, and have control of my time and location. I plan to work only on projects and causes that I connect with. I plan to acquire my finances without violating my values, goals and personal mission.
  • I plan to travel and live in different parts of the world. Experiencing different cultures, documenting them in photographs and sharing them with others.
  • I will buy my mom a house in Vancouver with a ravine in the backyard. That’s a dream of hers and I’d like to fulfill it.
  • Having a family is important to me. I desire a deep, loving relationship with my spouse.
  • To live everyday fully as if it was my last.

15 Questions to Discover Your Life Purpose

The following are a list of questions that can assist you in discovering your purpose. They are meant as a guide to help you get into a frame of mind that will be conducive to defining your personal mission.

Simple Instructions:

  • Take out a few sheets of loose paper and a pen.
  • Find a place where you will not be interrupted. Turn off your cell phone.
  • Write the answers to each question down. Write the first thing that pops into your head. Write without editing. Use point form. It’s important to write out your answers rather than just thinking about them.
  • Write quickly. Give yourself less than 60 seconds a question. Preferably less than 30 seconds.
  • Be honest. Nobody will read it. It’s important to write without editing.
  • Enjoy the moment and smile as you write.

15 Questions:

1. What makes you smile? (Activities, people, events, hobbies, projects, etc.)

2. What are your favorite things to do in the past? What about now?

3. What activities make you lose track of time?

4. What makes you feel great about yourself?

5. Who inspires you most? (Anyone you know or do not know. Family, friends, authors, artists, leaders, etc.) Which qualities inspire you, in each person?

6. What are you naturally good at? (Skills, abilities, gifts etc.)

7. What do people typically ask you for help in?

8. If you had to teach something, what would you teach?

9. What would you regret not fully doing, being or having in your life?

10. You are now 90 years old, sitting on a rocking chair outside your porch; you can feel the spring breeze gently brushing against your face. You are blissful and happy, and are pleased with the wonderful life you’ve been blessed with. Looking back at your life and all that you’ve achieved and acquired, all the relationships you’ve developed; what matters to you most? List them out.

11. What are your deepest values?

Select 3 to 6 (See list of words to help you | list in pdf) and prioritize the words in order of importance to you.

12. What were some challenges, difficulties and hardships you’ve overcome or are in the process of overcoming? How did you do it?

13. What causes do you strongly believe in? Connect with?

14. If you could get a message across to a large group of people. Who would those people be? What would your message be?

15. Given your talents, passions and values. How could you use these resources to serve, to help, to contribute? ( to people, beings, causes, organization, environment, planet, etc.)

Your Personal Mission Statement

“Writing or reviewing a mission statement changes you because it forces you to think through your priorities deeply, carefully, and to align your behaviour with your beliefs”
~Stephen Covey, ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’
A personal mission consists of 3 parts:

  • What do I want to do?
  • Who do I want to help?
  • What is the result? What value will I create?

Steps to Creating Your Personal Mission Statement:

1. Do the exercise with the 15 questions above as quickly as you can.

2. List out actions words you connect with.

a. Example: educate, accomplish, empower, encourage, improve, help, give, guide, inspire, integrate, master, motivate, nurture, organize, produce, promote, travel, spread, share, satisfy, understand, teach, write, etc.

3. Based on your answers to the 15 questions. List everything and everyone that you believe you can help.

a. Example: People, creatures, organizations, causes, groups, environment, etc.

4. Identify your end goal. How will the ‘who’ from your above answer benefit from what you ‘do’?

5. Combine steps 2-4 into a sentence, or 2-3 sentences.

What is your purpose? What is your mission? We’d love to hear about your goals and aspirations. Please share with a comment!

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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337 thoughts on Life on Purpose: 15 Questions to Discover Your Personal Mission

  1. A GREAT entry, Tina. Absolutely smashing. As a mystery writer, I sometimes tend to think that my purpose involves sitting in my room, writing my books, but I always need to remind myself that the higher purpose always, always, always involves somehow serving others. Helping others. Entertaining, enlightening and perhaps educating others.

    It’s always about other people.

  2. Thanks Bill! Great to hear from ya. :)

  3. Hi Tina,

    Thanks for a very enjoyable article. Writing a personal mission statement was an exercise I did at the start of this year and it has been life changing.

    Peter

  4. Very nice… I wrote an article a while back to help people find their purpose, but my technique was a bit simpler, intended to get the surface consciousness out of the way and get down to the bigger part of you that’s down a bit deeper, the part that actually knows what your purpose is.

    If you’d like to read it, you can find it at
    Find Your Calling

  5. Very nice article, Tina. I have a resource on my site that’s an audio visualization that is a different path to the same answers … it’s at http://www.EmpoweredSoul.com/freemini.htm. Feel free to check it out, I think you’d like it.

    Blessings,
    Andrea

  6. Very inspiring Tina. Thank you!

    I like your style, it’s always very precise and clear. I bet it reflects perfectly your personnality.

    I am certain you will be very succesfull in life and achieve all of your goals and i am following your advices to achieve mines.
    I know for a fact that this stuff works and that everyone has the ability to create the life of their dreams, it’s just a question of learning, believing and practicing. We all get lost sometimes in everyday problems but you are here to offer a fresh reminder that we should always seek and follow our higher purpose. It’s a noble cause.

  7. Gil

    WOW Tina. This article is probably one of the best ones I’ve read not only from you but any topics that deal with living a purposeful life. I can see it going all the way up in Diggs Top 10 list shortly. It’s well planned, amply researched, and written so perfectly. As with all your articles, I tend to find myself engrossed on my reading partly because of the great personal stories you tell. I feel the strong connection. That reminds me of something — I never told you my real name was “Jim”. How did you know? : )

  8. Here are some Pithy Words:

    Thoughtful insights. I’m glad I stopped by. Best wishes to you and your many readers!

  9. I do a couple of little things with my clients when I’m getting them to “think”. I ask them to write themselves a referance (employment recommendation) and to write their own obituary! Works well if you talk them through the Nobel story as part of the session.

    Great blog!

  10. Hi Tina, I so agree that the vision we want to see helps us consider what life is all about. I really enjoy the work I do now, which I could not do when younger and raising a family. There are times for all things!

  11. Thanks Tina. I love the reminder about the rich guy with no time to enjoy life.

    Also, although I didn’t know it when I started them, I think my blogs are representative of my goals. I’ve always known I wanted to add more happiness, fun and laughter into the world (we have way too many cynics out there), I just didn’t realize this could be my mission in life.

    Thanks for letting me take a second look at myself and my goals.

  12. Hi Tina,

    That’s the ultimate 15 questions I want to answer today. :)

    Thank you for sharing and visit my blog. I appreciate that. ;)

  13. Hi Tina,

    This is a very comprehensive guide to forming a purpose and mission statement.

    It is really helpful to anyone who comes across this article.

    Kudos to you!

  14. I wrote out a personal mission mantra a few months ago. It was an Guy Kawasaki take on Stephen Covey’s idea. What I found to be useful is to create a business card with the statement on there and it keep it with you. I added a neat photo to help me visualize and remember it.

  15. Hi Tina,
    Thanks for sharing this great post with powerful questions for one to ponder! Indeed, it is so much blessed to know our personal mission early in the life.

    “It is not what we get. But who we become, what we contribute… that gives meaning to our lives.” – Anthony Robbins

    Blessings
    Let’s Acquire Wisdom and Live with Passion

  16. This is awesome! My mission is to love my family both when it’s easy and when it is challenging, to be the best parent to my son, and to help others by teaching what I learn as I live my life.

    Thanks! I’m going to do this exercise!

  17. What a great post Tina! The quote by Sam Chan from Anthony Robbins – “It is not what we get. But who we become, what we contribute… that gives meaning to our lives.”- is the very one that helps me sets my mission 8 years ago. I see my life purpose then, from why I have to experience life in such a different way. God has a purpose for me! And so does He for everyone..

    “To Live, To Love, To Learn & To leave a Legacy..” ~ Stephen Covey

    Cheers!

  18. Money’s nice, pays the bills. But it’s definitely not the key to happiness.

  19. I’m impressed with this article and stumbled it. One thing though: I use the Firefox browser at 800 x 600 and when I clicked on this post, the left edge of the text was missing. I had to alter my screen resolution to read it. It might be worth you checking this out.

  20. Hi Tina,
    Very inspiring and profound post.Thanks for sharing.
    You have a great blog.
    My best wishes.

  21. Tina,

    The eulogy activity is always a wonderful way to bring people face-to-face with the reality of their lives.

    Keep up the fine work with the blog; it’s a terrific contribution to the achievement of your stated Purpose.

  22. Hi Tina, I love your blog and this post is thought provoking. Great goals, especially
    “To live everyday fully as if it was my last.”
    Tom

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