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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. Mary

    thank you so much for this. i feel as though an electric current has energized my soul; I really feel like a new person.

    Bless you~

  2. This is such an inspiring post and you wrote it a while ago but the words will always ring true! I just signed up to your email list and can’t wait to read more from this blog, so happy I found it :-)

    I never really felt until I hit my thirties, the importance of every day. I have always gone out and made the most of things and life, but now more than ever I am thinking, damn I need to make each day count! And I look at each day as a blessing too and hope I can continue to leave behind great electronic music that I release on my label, but more importantly inspire other people to live their dreams too :-)

  3. sneha agarwal

    I’m a big fan of Stephen Covey and have read his books on 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He asks us to write a personal mission statement in the end of the second chapter and I was struggling to start.
    Your article has actually helped me in penning down things step by step and reaching a conclusion! The best part I like in this exercise was that one has to be spontaneus in answering .This brings our top priorities down on paper ..

    It was a good read and v.helpful.
    Thank-you Tina!

  4. Priscilla

    Thank you Tina :)

  5. Rajeev

    Being fixed and rigid I want my family to get everything they want from life, do everything they want to do. I want them feel free…

  6. Deepali

    I feel sometimes its easier said than done. For a child born in a middle class family its not about passion of life or a bigger purpose. Its the thing of rich. Its about earning enough money to uplift the quality of his life. So ones passion could be painting but knowing that there isn’t stability and enough money in such a profession, one is forced to do what one might not like but could earn enough money.

  7. Male

    Today was a really tough day…. until I read this. Thanks Tina.

  8. Thank you. This has been very helpful and has added value to my life. Blessings to you.

  9. geetha

    thank u… actually now im a student…. i cnt chosen my future way.. bt these 15 qtns r very helpful to me……. now i hav clarity…. abt what iam………….. thank u soooooooooooo muchhhhhhhh

  10. My personal mission: “To be a strong woman as well as a successful professor and entrepreneur, who inspires young people by helping them and sharing with them”.

    Thanks a lot Tina.

  11. Jennifer

    At this point in my life, everything that I was once working for can never be. My focus is nothing more than to find a job with which to support myself and get out alive. A terrible end to a woman who worked, sacrificed, and only ever desired a husband and a family.

  12. I am having little tough time right now and really keen to know my purpose of my life. This post is helpful for me. I’ll try to think beyond money and concentrate on other things. Hopefully, I’ll pave my way to success and achieve my goal.
    Thank you Teena.

  13. Owl

    Well, that was a waste of time for me. I answered to question 15: “I don’t want to help. I hate everyone.” and this little questionnaire is all about finding who you can help. I hate most people because they are judgemental bullies and stuck-ups. I hate all women on Earth because none will date me. And I hate all men on Earth because I’m jealous they have a girlfriend or wife. The only few people I like are those who are rejected by society but there’s nothing I can do for them, if I could I’d help myself first.

    • Reality

      It is only your negative attitude that will stop you from finding your wife.

    • Avelyna

      If you hate everyone, can I be so bold to say you’re looking for love?

      On another note, I hope to bring a revolution in the world of fashion by helping young women channel their inner goddess and promote a society based on love and acceptance.

    • Tam

      Silly Owl, you can’t see that you have already found who you can help, you say it, YOU is the anwer, you have to help yourself from hating and envy, you have to see beyond those negative thougths, then you can find someone else, but you are the one who need help!

    • Tami Lynn Carlson

      You made me smile. I thought you were joking…but I guess not. How did you ever find your way to this article about finding life purpose in the first place? I appreciate your honesty and sincerely hope you find peace and happiness along your life journey. I’m thinking of you. TLC

    • Leo

      Sharing is a kind of help. Help people, and they may help you

    • Qutaiba

      Believe in yourself, and you will be better. laying down and hating people won’t help you. have faith bro.

    • Sally

      If u love yourself, everyone will like you too. Focus on what you want, u r focusing on negative and that is what you are getting. It’s all about law of attraction, read this book: the secret (or watch a documentary on netflix)
      It will change ur life.

    • Stew

      Irritable Owl Syndrome perhaps?

    • Love thy neighbor as thyself

    • A

      Then the answer to that question is I want to help myself. I need to help myself. I want to be the man every women would love to date and every man envy. Once u get there than u can truly give back. Ur not alone but before u can see that Ur worthy U have to change ur prespective. Do the mirror exercise…. Good luck. I believe everyone has a special someone so she out there U just need to be ready…

    • Porridge

      And there you have your next mission! Good luck!
      Becoming someone you are able to love is invaluable, especially if you want other people to love you too! Only then will you be able to love selflessly….

    • Butterfly

      Maybe you should try therapy first, to go to the root of your feelings and clarify (and hopefully heal) your personal history.

    • Holly

      Thank you for giving me a starting point.

  14. Rajan

    why should I have a purpose for living. Iam very happy living pupose less life.I wake up every morning and do whatever I feel good about. Got no where to go, nothing to achieve. well god has been very kind to me.I got to do some important work but wont bother much if I am not successfull. Nobody on this earth can say he finished his job. every body around me is jealous of me because my life is awesome

  15. Jasdev Singh

    And i just figured that i need professional success, money and satisfaction that my existence on this earth is important.
    But Im still unable to find what i really wanna do !(professionally)
    Every time i think about my career ,future it just trips me out and i dream only about being successful.Its like a trap i want to leave. but, i couldnt find my way out.

    • Chrishna

      Go through the questions again. …slowly and thoughtfully …keep your mind on discovering your purpose not success. Knowing WHO YOUR ARE; AND YOUR PURPOSE FOR BEING, and pursuing that PURPOSE WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH WILL ENSURE SUCCESS.

  16. RISHABH DOGRA

    I know this article will help me to wake up like a champ. Now I know what’s the purpose of my life. I also want to motivate others like you. #thanksandhaveahappierday

  17. subash chandar

    Thats an marwellous stuff tina

    u have shaped it very nicely and expericenly……

  18. payonidhi kasliwal

    I do like it the way you have put the question of life’s purpose but to me Life is meaningful only if you have made the world you lived in a better place as compared to what it was at the time of your birth be it in terms of physical world or the people you helped or in terms of compassion you gave.

  19. Haley

    very helpful! will use this in our lifegroup to help others find their personalized purpose

  20. Rohit David

    Hi Tina,

    This is quite an article. No offense meant, but I find this article to be more of a self-centered goal! It appears that the purpose of life is only to please yourself, others and to earn money. I am not against any of these missions, because these may be good for your vocation. However, you have conveniently forgotten the purpose for which God created us – if look through the most read book of the world existing today, is The Holy Bible. According to God, he created man (human beings) to glorify Him. All other things are secondary. What we do is because of Adam sinned (fallen to the tricks of satan) and got thrown out of the Garden of Eden. Had it not been so, the humans would have been enjoying the fruit of the garden of eden without any labor. Had sin not overcome our lives, God’s Son would not have been crucified for our sake.

    The sole purpose of human being is to glorify Him alone and all things will be added automatically, Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Isaiah 43:7 – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

    We are bought with a price, the price of the blood of Lamb, therefore honor God – 1 Corinthians 6:20

    • Tam

      The porpouses are the ones that you choose! for example, money is not included or even mention in my answers, it depends in the person, you choose religion but not everyone believes in that…

    • Catarina

      Rohit David,
      That may well be true, but it’s a bit theoretical, don’t you think?
      How exactly will you glorify Him? Sitting in church all day praying Holy Mary’s?
      Work, fulfillment, finding your calling (the calling He calls you to do), acting upon it, leads you to be happy, testifying with your life that He is worthy of being glorified.
      Nothing contradicts the article – the purpose of life is for us to be happy – that’s why He sent His son to die for us, to tell us there is hope, there is love and there is happiness even after the biggest suffering. So to glorify Him, is to live that, live the life He gave you the best way you can.
      Please, He cares more about you living in reality what you preach than copying versicles online…

  21. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on life purpose. Regards

  22. Continuously I used to read smaller articles which also clear their
    motive, and that is also happening with this post which I am reading at this time.

  23. Kindred

    Fantastic article post Tina! You helped me to dig deep inside and truly find my way back to my heart. I had been recently feeling as if I was drifting through life and discovered that I had no vision or dream. By getting out some paper and my pen I was able to re-clarify not only what is important to me in terms of my values, but also how I can contribute to the global populus as well. Thanks and keep writing all these awesome blog posts!

  24. Eric

    When it comes to who am I, my purpose, my mission, my vision, my calling, my passions, my heart’s desire, I’m getting lost in defining these things and trying to understand them formulaically. I need to define this and put them in the right order, and then my mind will reveal the secrets of each, such rigidity. :( Any else make finer distinctions between these mental constructs…I think some distinctions among them are important, despite these concepts converging.

  25. lekshmi

    Thank you Tina… Just the sort of thing I wanted to hear when I feel stuck somewhat at a cross road with vague directions or too many choices… Good to streamline and achieve clarity…Thanks again,Lekshmi

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