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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. Nikki Ousley

    Thanks so much. That really helped me out. It made me think a lot which is always good. I feel like I know what I want to do with my life and how I plan to get there. I won’t give up. Starting now. (:

  2. Thank you for sharing this Tina.

  3. Pallu

    Hi Tina,
    U are a lovely lady…. I haven’t seen u but reading u r thought i felt that. May god bless u dear.

  4. Caterina

    Dear Sir,

    Thank you for helping me to clarify what I want in life.
    My personal mission (to be ‘polished’, sorry, I am not English native speaker!) is:
    ” I want to achieve self realisation by helping people in need, embracing the pain by being in line with God, share my skills (creative, analytical and strategic thinking) with who needs it”.

    I have the GOAL (=help), the WHO (=people in need), the HOW (put my skills at their service)… what do I miss? I miss WHERE to find the WHO in a way the allows me to personally suppor myself (house, well paid job).

    At the moment I work as Policy and Project Officer for an NGO. I happy I am learning but my heart is not satisfied. I have been trying to work for something I believe more in but so far I have not. This makes me really sad :(
    I hope God will help me to find the WHERE to realise my goal. Or maybe I just should create my own organisation…

    Thank you for replying with your comments, ideas, suggestion to my comment.

    Best wishes

  5. Dawn

    I want to love and understand people I care for and people in general, be responsible and good friend to them, and I want to be treated the same by them in a just and loving way.

  6. Arminas

    I don’t know if it is okay, but when I did all the steps I have gotten the next turn in my career. Thank you, I will be more certain about this. This is my goal.

    I help people to live helthy and happy life through making them drink less. I am making my country sober.

    Thank you very much Tina :)

  7. HealingProf

    I’ve been trying to figure out my “purpose” again. (My decades “old” purpose no longer seems to fit with my thoughts and feelings.) At the same time I’ve been encouraged to drop some of the “old” rules and restrictions I put on myself. I decided to explore what would happen if I dropped the self-imposed idea that my purpose had to include serving others in some capacity. A huge, gigantic weight was lifted from my being — I was flooded with insight about ways to take care of myself.

    I’m intrigued that one of the personal mission statement questions is: Who do I want to help? Right now I’d say the answer to “who” is “myself”. Perhaps I am meant to be a role model for the importance of self-care?!? How else to explain the recent sequence of events, including the appearance of this article?

  8. siva

    it’s the most useful thing in my life….if i hadn’t read this one….at the end of my life i may have green notes, but there will be no sweet memories to remember.

    now it is clear…to have a fulfilled life

    “To live everyday fully as if it was my last”. it’s an awesome one

  9. 24 in a day

    8 — 8 — 8

    Most people say

    Work – Live – Sleep

    But is really should be…

    Give – Live – Sleep

    Give (making life better for others)

    Live (enjoying what was given from others)

    Sleeping (enjoying what was given from others)

    Life is “Simple”.

  10. darren

    Jim sounded like a strong influence on you. Honestly, did you date the guy and think he was perfect? I ask because I feel many people want to achieve what Jim had in order to attract the opposite sex — so were you attracted to him?

  11. shina

    nice 1……..
    and we want more…like this

  12. shina

    superbb…..i like it very much …

  13. J Andersson

    Beautiful, and very helpful!

    My mission statement is: to inspire women to find their inner strength and peace by connecting them and sharing stories, empowering them, and thus making them less vulnerable to abuse. Also, educating men on equality and helping them heal so that they may end the systemic abuse of women and children.

    Time to become who I was meant to be!

  14. Froilan Ramos

    Like the article so much. This helped me to think again where should I go and what I need to do. Here is mine.

    “I am here to enjoy life by helping, entertaining, educating my family, friends, everyone as much as I could
    using my God gave resources, talents and skills so they may enjoy life and be encouraged to serve others too.

    I will be a good steward of the earth and its creatures, seeking every opportunity to protect and preserve them
    not only for myself to witness its beauty and the comfort it brings but for future generations as well.”

  15. Brittany

    I feel like I just skimmed the surface with this article, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! But I’m dying of curiosity over what the outcome would have been if I worked on this exercise one on one with you, Tina. So I am at a complete standstill with my life. I graduated in highschool 2009, graduated cosmetology school in 2010, moved to Jersey with then boyfriend right after, moved back to Arizona in December to get started on my own journey alone(I wasn’t planning on doing hair, I hated cosmo school with a passion). So I got hired as a server but they didnt find me formal enough in my training so they had me be a busser. Lost that job because a friend surprised me with Coachella tickets and didn’t get anyone to cover 2 of my shifts(best thing I’ve ever experienced in ’10, so I deemed with worthy of losing my crappy job over this year). So now here I am, stuck at a stand still. My plan is to go sign up at GCC and study nutrition and psychology, but I can’t get myself to do it. I think its because once I do, it feels like im damning myself to living at my parents place for THAT much longer. And I dont even know where to begin with finding a job because I don’t think I can serve, it’s too awkward and fake and I always left the table bright red with embarrassment when I was in training. I just want to be inspired. I always saw myself as a go getter type, but here i am. Addicted to the internet, my rooms a mess and my life is a mess. But enough boohoo-ing, i just need a creative outlet and a job that excites me. I feel like the reason why I’m stuck is because when I’m not 100% on the end goal, I can’t get started. I NEED to know what exactly my goal is and thats how this relates to this article. But I’m still lost as to what i really need to go for. A creative outlet that lets me help the self conscious and the unfit? But is adventurous? Ha, I’m just all over the place!!

    • Brittany,

      I’m currently working on completing a book project that goes in depth on this topic. It’s actually an extension to this article, with more in depth exercises and explanations of my own experience.

      Yeah and if we did work on this one on one, we would dive deeper and we can direct the conversation based on your custom situation.


  16. MIKE

    Nice, real nice. I depend on ” Faith and Family”.

  17. Kuro7

    Hi. I think these values best represent me: Health. Insight. Respect.

  18. Krista

    I’ve recently just started reading your posts, now I’m addicted to your site. I would like to take a quick moment to thank you for creating it and to thank you for all of your wisdom and empowerment.
    This perticular article was extremely helpful for me. I’m a single mom and a late starter on my college education, I have had the hardest time figuring out what it is I want to do with my life. I knew what I didn’t want to do like work at a job or a carreer that was unfufilling, the same everyday, harmful to people and the environment, ect. I really wanted to find something that fell into how I want to live my life but wasn’t really sure what. After reading your article and completing the exercise, I found what I should be doing, my purpose. I’m meant to help people that are in or have been in the bad situations that I have overcome in my own life. I’ve always had the interest but just wasn’t sure. I’ve completed my life’s mission statement, and I’m on my way to being the best me there is.

    • Thank you so much Krista! Your words are very encouraging for me.

      I’m about 3-4 weeks away from launching a book I’ve been working on based on this article–how to find our life purpose, and how to make a living in alignment with our mission statement.

  19. Hi, Great article Miss Tina,
    Im a wheelchairy man and I dont like living in Iran, I mission is to live in Turkey. But i dont find anyone to help me. Have any idea? Please email me thank you all friends.
    Have a gr8 time
    Rahim Nazari

  20. Tina,

    What a great post.

    I think “Purpose 101” should be a mandatory class in High School and then we should all move on to “Purpose 201” when we hit Universtity.

    These types of questions could avoid a lifetime of misery trapped doing something we hate or that does not fulfill us.

    Thanks for this great post!

    Women Entrepreneurs HQ Show

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