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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. Emmy

    Hi Tina,

    I was so looking forward to the release of your book (preordered it) but unfortunately the announcement changed from a certain date to “coming soon” and now completely disapppeared from your site.
    Any news on the release???
    Best regards,

  2. Ash

    Hi Tina, Thanks for sharing this amazing eye opening piece of advice! Keep up the great work :)

  3. Morake

    Finally, I know my purpose in life.

    Thank you, Thank you Tina. This exercise has helped me build a true mirror for my self which I have been searching my whole life for.

  4. Hi Tina,

    I know this comment is long overdue. But I just wanted to let you know that I find these 15 questions really helpful.

    I have also listened to Michael Gerber E-Myth audio and know what you mean when he told us to visualize and write our own eulogy. I find this a very power technique to bring out the deepest within us.

    Together with these 15 powerful questions of yours, it is an awesome method to find a purpose.

    This type of skills is timeless.

  5. kate1

    How do you explain the Discrepancy between the number one value of financial stability on peoples value list and living your live happily while following your passions and desires?

  6. kate1

    If I only would follow my passions and could not support my family. I would go diving and fishing the whole day. We live in a materialistic world. There is no unconditional love between humans. Only a dog can give you that. Even if you decide you only want to dedicate your time and life to helping others you need to find a way how to finance that. You need to find sponsors or do that through donations to make a living. It is just shifting your value of financial stability but at the end you take money from people to live your dreams. Financial stability is one of the most important values in our society because the society demands it. If you want to live in a world where money does not matter than you need to practice communism and live in a that country.

  7. Sarah

    I knew during question 14 that I would be a great guidence counselor. It hit me and the tears streamed down. I have been praying and hoping that my college experience will not be wasted on talents that will not make me happy and peaceful with myself. I was a substance abuser for many years and have been in the chemical dependency feild without the oomph that I had when I started and also without the love of the process…I want to be helpful and motivating but think I would be more enriching working in a slightly different atmosphere where I can not only share those experiences, but many of the other ones that brought me to the person I am today.

    Thank you for clarifying my values and helping me tonight. I do not know where I will end up but now have some good insight into who I am, what I can do, and where I am today. No other career test has shown me that.


  8. Salim

    Hi Tina,

    I enjoy reading your articles and I benefit alots but my advise to you and all human being fist of all we should know the purpose of life and why God created us, you can get answer on this question by visiting Khalid Yasin purpose of life on youtube

  9. Anne

    Thanks for this helpful post. Here’s what I got:

    “My purpose is to help human beings experience more love and joy in their lives through discovering who they are and embodying their dreams and passions freely and genuinely.”

  10. Makka

    Great article Tina thankyou,

    I stumbled across this site, and thought you and your readers might be interested.

  11. Brett Ashley

    wow. from doing this exercise I realized how angry I am…angry at a lot of things I that are out of my control. Also, that I am driven by my outrage. I am a recent college grad and my education has cost my parents well over $100,000. I am now entering my late twenties and I am unemployed and without health care. I am asthmatic and my inhaler costs $30 and my birth control costs $100. I am a financial burden to my loved ones. I am essentially not “free” or “happy” …the two things I value the most. I am disgusted by the inequalities in health care and education in this country. Thanks for this article. It has really been helpful

  12. First of all thanks a lot for this, you helped me more than you could imagine , I was really looking for answers and lost and you helped me set things into a perspective. here is what i got:

    *I would like to invent something that will help people.
    *Help people being there best and accomplish there dreams by showing them the way.
    *Travel the world and look for adventure and knowledge.
    *Spend time with the people I care about , and find true love.

  13. Yomn

    My mission is to:
    1. To please God (Allah).
    2. To believe, to read, to learn, to work, and to enjoy (that’s how I help myself).
    3. To accept and to sympathize (to keep in touch with others).
    4. To cheer, to give, and to teach (that’s how I help others – my students, my friends, my family, and my nation).

    Thanks a lot.

  14. Great post. I really like the personal mission statement. The 15 questions you ask really help to put you in the right mindset. I recently found myself embarking on my own journey to discover my purpose, or passion in life. The biggest advice I can give is to have patience. This doesn’t happen overnight, but the reward is worth it.

    Also, fear has to be one of the biggest obstacles you must overcome. I was amazed at how much I was standing in my own way. Without risk, there is no reward. Once you discover what it is you want to do, and then it is up to you to get out of your shell and do it. A passion not realized is only a wish.

  15. ivona

    Thank you, this is exactly what I needed! It helped me understand myself better and finally answer the question that was bothering me lately. I wasn’t sure how I can satisfy both my dreams, make myself completely happy and help others reach their happiness. But now, as I was reminded of my talents and true aspirations, I’m beginning to see my path. Thanks! Best wishes :)

  16. ivona

    My final sentence was: Those who wish to progress will be encouraged by my example and empowered by my knowledge. (Don’t yet know how, but there’s some time ahead of me, I’m 20 :)

  17. chencheyao

    Create and employ knowledge of law, economics,and philosophy to collaboratively generate and distribute wealth, make the whole humankind peaceful.

  18. I enjoyed this exercise but felt a little selfish as I realised that my main purpose in life was for myself and not others. The ony thing I would say to that is that my being unhappy in my life impacts my daughters and all who come not my life so to be happy would have a positive effect in those around me. I adopt believe in myself but want to. I wat to teach teenagers to believe in themselves, to see their own beauty and worthiness to be themselves n this world, to look for te good ness and kindness within themselves and to share this n their outlook with there’s. I think that at school this should be a curriculum subject along with all the academic subjects which kids study as I feel this positive reinforcement would equip them wit tools for life.

  19. Akabiwa

    While,tonight I find myself on crossroads find myself lying in bed alone in my world and ask myself,what is my purpose in this life am leaving?Am a florist (Eventist is what I call myself),for approximately 10years now I have been with roses and different functions and events surprising am now teaching at a Girls Senior School,offering Maths and Physics,doing what I was not trained to when I was at the university,I studied Natural Resources Management (BSc),but because of luck of employment in my own profession the government accepted our applications as teachers to offer sciences in high schools,seven months in the field I can’t enjoy my work,am not happy with the job,am thinking of stopping and concentrate on floral and gift shop I opened last year,I love this job as a florist,am content with it.I thought getting a job as a teacher will sustain my business instead I always think am wasting a lot of time.I have released that my purpose is in line with my gift,a talent I have with roses and plants!

  20. Erik

    Hi Tina – this really helped out during my recent vision work. Thanks very much for writing the article :-)

  21. Thank you Tina for this article. I love how you bring purpose into clarity and provide a simple and elegant blueprint for gaining greater clarity around life purpose.

  22. Fabricio

    the messages you pass as the website’s name says — are so simple and iluminating, and how you transmit this is incredible!! sorry my bad english, that is not my natural language!! x( I hope that you can understand well, at least

    thankyou very much!!

  23. Wenny

    Hi Tina,

    I think your writing is very inspiring and guided me in writing out my personal statement. However, I did not feel deeply touched or cried when it was written out. I wonder whether it was because my personal mission has not yet reached my deep, personal core belief? Perhaps, I should really start praying and ask God, what am I really here for?

  24. Chris

    Hmm… according to this, my mission is to provide advice and placement services to people about cats, old American cars, beautiful girls, Sweden, and New Zealand.

  25. Hi! I’ve been blogging on the same topic and was cruising around to see what other people are saying. Great stuff! I have to say I admire all the wonderful work you’re doing and I’m looking forward to visiting again. If you’re interested in a discussion about the connection between passion and life purpose, with a reflection exercise, maybe this will help?

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