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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. Calvin&Hobbes

    I was very pleased to have quite literally stumbled into this blog by mistake… or was it really a mistake at all..? Anyway, I think on some level I’ve always known who I am and what my true purpose is, but only recently discovered that. It’s quite simple and I don’t mind sharing with you.

    I have been volunteering as an EMT with my Virginia Beach rescue squad for only a few months now. I am still kind of new to it. I’m learning new things on every shift. It is very fulfilling and I love it. I’m in it for life now, but I have found that my TRUE purpose is to volunteer my time @ CHKD (Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughter’s) as a Child Life volunteer. After answering some really good questions and digging into myself a little deeper than I have ever done before, I found that I have so many wonderful gifts and talents to share that will make a great impact in a child’s life.. a child who needs a friend. It warms my heart just thinking about it now.. The kingdom of heaven really does belong to the children and god bless them.

    Thank you very much for posting this blog. It’s a really good thing you’ve got here and I hope everyone finds their “mission”. God bless you!

  2. Rogue

    Hi Tina-I really appreciate you sharing your wisdom with me. I must admit that I have been lost for 20 years and this article has realigned my soul. In my 36 years on this earth no truth has rung truer then your words. I was given lemons by God and you have taught me to make lemonaide. My life has been full of tragedies…the stories I can tell you will never believe…but I keep trucking. From being a teenaged parent to graduting from college with a BFA and all doing it while dodging bullets in Chicago’s notorious Humboldt Park. You go girl!

  3. I did the exercise you suggested, and I noticed a very powerful theme in my answers. I am living my mission, but I’m ready to kick it up a notch! I am aware that I can share an a larger scale. I can have a bigger impact on the world and I say YES!

    Thanks, for the reminder and gentle nudge to reach for the ceiling!

    My purpose is to recognize, honor, and celebrate the sacredness of everyone I meet to create a world free of shame, empowering people to embrace their own divinity and share their most authentic expression with the world!


    Wow, that’s really beautiful. Thank you for sharing your purpose with us, it will inspire many.


  4. Anyone interested in helping me get published? I am an aspiring, Latina, writer from Chicago’s Humboldt Park area. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  5. Thank you! Very nice and helpful. I’ve asked myself questions before about my purpose but there were a few here that I never thought of. Some of the questions brought me some more clarity on what some of my challenges are, while at the same time helping me realize that things may not be as hard as I perceive them. So if I can let go of the perception that my challenges may be a struggle, then I can let go of the struggle and begin to learn in greater grace.

  6. Mary


    Happy New Year! This is a perfect exercise to start a new decade, and I will share it with friends and colleagues.

    All the best,


  7. My purpose is to provide products, programs and tools that inspire and empower you, enabling you to unleash your personal creativity and your unique contribution in life.

    Forward Steps is all about just that …forward steps.
    If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking

    My mantra is that “Each forward step enhances the value of your first”. I love to provide tools and inspirations that keep you stepping forward with the things you want to achieve.

    My three target goals for 2010 are:

    …to grow the My Forward Steps Membership to 500 vibrant Members who love engaging with each other, with me and with all the resources I am providing there,

    …to have 1,000 of the site visitors to Time For My Life buy a copy for themselves and use it each day, then write to me at the end of 12-months with their shared experiences,

    …to have made a tangible difference to the lives of more than 500 families through my participation within the Forward Steps Team at I have already made a good start at my own personal Kiva Lender page.


  8. Great! Just what I was looking for. THANK YOU!

  9. Britt

    “I want to inspire, motivate, change lives, views, bring inner peace and the recognition to tune into oneself. I will nurture, guide, understand, and travel to make an impact in people, organizations, and groups, reaching causes and environments to create confidence within oneself, promote positivity, and understanding mistakes that have and may happen are ok. One needs to believe within themselves and know the only one in charge and control of their life, journey, and how it will unfold, is themself”.

    -Brittany Steward

  10. Great stuff!!!
    Seems that your traits, visions and paths are very much similar to mine! Loved reading the post.
    Thanks for it.

  11. Matthew Bowen

    Thank you for this post, it has helped my to define my purpose!
    My purpose is “to leave this world smiling, having followed in the footsteps of my sensei and having entrusted this path to the next generation; to have lived under the philosophy of having no regrets; to have protected my friends and family; to never give up in what I believe in; to have made a difference to the lives of those closest to me; to look back at the end and be happy.”

  12. Thanks for a terrific article. I would like to use parts of it with acknowledgement to you and your site, which is great! Our software gets people to create a life purpose or mission and then align their goals and tasks to it. As they journal to these activities, they further clarify their alignement and get focus. It’s a wonderful self perpetuating exercise. As far as I know, our software is unquie in this 3 part interactive process and ongoing journalling. Have a look and thanks again for your material which will help people in the first part of the process…. defining the life purpose. PS> We are looking for partners as our software is complete web application that people can use from your web site. Let me know if you are interested and keep up the great work.

  13. Hi Tina, great post!
    I´m into a big process of changing, and I wrote down my purpose before, with a very similar process. I share this with you, grateful of the reminding!
    “Through my art I offer to people questions, a new vision and a different approach to life, so we can grow and find more meaningful ways to live.”

  14. This is a full blown exercise for changing your life. You could have made a mega e-book Tina it’s so valuable and empowering. May I add a question I have asked myself before; Would I do this for free because I love it so much? If I would do something for free because it’s grabbed me, inspired me, unlocked and animated me then it gets my attention and I have to explore it as a or my mission. It’s what’s lead me here so it can’t be bad. For now I will have to sit down and contemplate all you have asked here to see if I’m on track for who I am to meet my true destiny. For that I thank you.

  15. Vic

    My favorite among the question is about what are my deepest values?
    This is the question that will really help me understand who i am and what I am will be. But aside from determining those values, we also need to find out what are our principles in life. These principles along with our values are the building blocks of our lives. Hence, we need to fully assure that we have the right principles and values in ourselves. Thank you for a great share.

  16. G

    Purpose gives meaning to your life. It provides you with coherence and focus in your personal as well as professional lives. Drawing on your own personal stories, prepare a purpose statement that reflects what you are called to do in life.

    My purpose in life is to live according to my spiritual beliefs by putting God first, striving to better myself (man, husband, father, friend, educator, business owner, etc.), provide and protect my family, provide opportunities for those in need, and to support, encourage, motivate, and guide our youth in the right direction in life.

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