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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. Bobby

    Tina – This is a neat method and I can see how others can benefit from it. However, it seems to assume that I have already found something that I am passionate about. I wrote down answers to the questions; the first things that popped into my mind. When I went to the 4th step of creating my mission statement, it says, “Identify your end goal.” I drew a blank. I reviewed my answers and found that none of them are anything that I would consider to be my end goal. There was nothing that I was passionate enough about to consider putting into my life’s mission statement. Any suggestions? Thanks!!

  2. Hi Tina, great article!

    I answered all the questions and my repetitive phrases were – arts, design industry, smart, high esteem, successful, empower people, learn french fluently, travel, music, play the piano up to grade 8, love, ideas, simple.

    All together a made a personal statement, which seems to have been the same for the last 4 – 5 years :) quite happy

  3. 15 May 2008

    Am now 59 years of age, am very laid-back, find it easy to chill-out, I live a fairly simple life enjoying peace, contentment, nature, animals, music.

    Strongly believe in being as courteous as much as possible, communicative, respectful.

    Do not put much importance in money,(so many people are obsessed with money) unlike many people am not obsessed with materialism, possessions, status.

    I am me, I am myself, am genuine, am a good caring, altruistic, selfless, very wise human being.

    Would love to hear from others directly via “e-mail”, please show my “e-mail address” if possible.



    Dorset (County)


    Peter’s Email:

  4. Zeenat

    What if.. I know what it is I want to really do, have known so all my life, but don’t know how to go about doing it. Or maybe I feel I don’t have enough resources like money, etc. to actually fulfill my personal mission. What then. Your article is very helpful, the self-questionnaire really nice, but I get stuck in trying to figure out how to go about doing it.

  5. Gyuri

    Great article, but I wanted to point out that the word list links for Q.11 are not working.

  6. christy

    This is my personal mission statement:

    Integrate my values into every fabrics of my life. Grow and love life to the fullest. Free animals and humans from sufferings by changing people’s doctrine beliefs and attitude towards veganism.

  7. Thank you for sharing this with everyone, it has enlighten me.

  8. Augustine.

    Thank you for this. Really. I didn’t fully integrate my final “statement” into a statement, but in a nutshell:

    >> Allow the value of my life extend beyond my accomplishments, what I’ve done, who I touched, who I affected, etc. Life isn’t about the product, it’s about the process.

    >> Be the embodiment of freedom. Arms and eyes wide open.

    >> Give respect to those who deserve it and fight to no end to tear those who don’t from their positions of power.

    >> Be a home to those who need it most. (“Teach a man to fish, and you’ve fed him for life.”)

  9. dave

    My goal is to simply be free to do my art however I wish, and give my attention to a future soulmate who will understand and grow with me. I also wish to help whoever I meet along the way so that they have a shoulder to cry on.

    This post was helpful to me, because I was feeling confused for most of my life. Thank you =)

  10. genie

    I felt lost for a long time, im a 24 yr old woman, married and living in the states. I left my home when I was 19 (the netherlands). since I finished college i lost my spirit and passion in general about live. and side tracked for the longest. Till now i feel miserable not knowing what to do with my life. theres something missing and i realised by doing this ,that i need to be and feel free I have alot of love in me and i need to express it in anyway. when I finished this I felt happy and warm again,just the way I felt when I was 19. My purpose is to love life to the fullest feel love and spread love, to think with your heart not with your head,trust me you’ll end up being something/somebody else that is not the true you, and i made that mistake….

    thanks alot ….

  11. I love how conscious you are Tina!

    The way I define the term passion is something in which I enjoy doing, something I can do all day long and continuously find joyfulness from it. Yet it is not the act of doing it that allows me to find joy in it because just thinking about it can produce feelings of joy.

    You are an significant being in the universal scheme of purpose and you have a important task to provide exceptional value of abundance to existence. Living your passion allows you to unfold this process of progressive success. This unfolding leads you to your center. The center of the essence in life, that aligns you to the perfect circumstances.

    Think of yourself as a piece of thread in a tapestry, you can not see the pattern you help to create, the bright color you add to the whole, your place within the system, but the tapestry would not be the same without you. In fact, the tapestry would not hold together without you. It would simply unfold the whole tapestry as you pull on the thread of who you are. You have something within you that holds everything together, by adding something to this universe that keeps it whole. You may not see what it is right now, but you may never see it if you do not live your purpose through the passion you were born with.

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