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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. A TEEN GIRL

    hi tina,
    thank you for sharing your thoughts about how to be concious

    every one at my home told me i was nuts to think about the purpose of my life…like so soon…im just 17…but it drove me to google about it…and find your article…thank you for making me feel fulfilled…
    my goal in life is to be at peace with myself, be sure about myself and to take decisions on my own, connect with people, and help them realise thier self worth (especialy women in india), explore and discover new things and to be emotionally and financially independent…lead a very happy, joyous and radiant life…

    regards
    goergia

  2. Paul

    Question 12. What were some challenges, difficulties and hardships you’ve overcome or are in the process of overcoming? How did you do it?

    The truth is I couldn’t think of any. This is both worry and incredibly motivating.

    It worries me because it makes me think: I’ve lived quarter of a century and I still make the same mistakes; do I never learn? Or, exactly what have I ever achieved to completion (or satisfaction)? I’ve fought being overweight and won, but gone back, why? Why did I not overcome this and put it firmly in the past?

    It motivates me because I’m thinking I really want to put some answers in my Question 12 column! How do I do that? I think about a hardship or challenge in my life and I go about overcoming it starting from right now!

  3. Steve

    I have been looking for happiness, my purpose, etc. for some time now, but especially last few years since being alone. I don’t know how I’ve made it this far in life (52 yrs) like this. In looking for what would make me happy, I came to realize I can’t even define happiness other than some temporary response to a joke or funny story. What have I been missing all my life? I stumbled upon your post and tried to answer the 15 questions but could only come up with answers to #’s 1,6,&7. I have had some accomplishments in life and lead a productive life but this idea of happiness really has me troubled. Where do I start? I feel so empty and as time goes by its getting worse. Any ideas? Thanks for reading…

    • Hi Steve,

      Thank you for taking the time to write and for your courage in doing the questions (it really takes a lot of courage to look within ourselves honestly). I trust that you will find the answers for you, in time. Remember to be kind and patient with yourself. :)

      Have you read “The Power of Now” before? That’s the book that comes to mind that I want to recommend. You can find a link to it along the sidebar. The book won’t give you direct answers specifically about life purposes, but reading it (don’t get the audio book.. make sure to read it) will shift your state of mind into a state of utter clarity. With clarity contains the answers you seek.. that’s been my experience.

      If I think of other resources that I think will help, I’ll be sure to let you know.

      Warmly,
      Tina

  4. 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 ..to 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 ….

  5. Justin

    I really dont mean to be that shattered rh thumb that im currently dealing with, but this little “quiz” like “experiment” that i just took the time to do to attempt, at the age of 21, did not give me any insite to anything.. sry but im highly on board with life and the dissapointment, pain, suffering, plain out BS that life is, believe me ive accepted n think i have a good idea bout lfe through everyone elses mistakes and including my own and I feel that I waisted my time searching “purpose of life” on google… i have at my age almost everything money can buy me.. and like songs tell ya “money cant buy me love” – beatles obviously, helpin n volunteerin only does so much for the soul, as far as im concerned.. and i am only 21 but very observant of.. everything I see like a sponge soaking it all in, journeyman at a trade which tells of the devotion toward life ive went through.. why does life just seem like n ant hill to me, where most ants in the colony have they’re purpose but the few odd ones find there way into your home to only be squished by whom ever.. Life is not like a box of chocolates life is about personal opinions and a web site cannot even compete to the complications and differences of humans…. Im 21 n no joke am very confused an troubled bout life, why are we here., what is our purpose/.. Email me @ Jay_man107@hotmail.com with ne insite that doesnt fit!! Honestly took me bout two min to write tht.. common rly????? keep in mind i volunteer ofter to real things like people old n young with brain disorders n mental bullshit.. doesnt make me feel better makes me feel like there is no purpose to life.. prove me different.. plzzz lol

  6. Justin

    Life is soo complicated because everyone and everything, every being, plant and animal, is sooo incredibly unique, opinionated,and complicated that this post doesnt apply to me at all!!.. your opinion of the purpose in life cant be explained by so many simple rules get real, good thought but not logically reasonable. It didnt satisfy me!!

  7. Love the post – very inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing the exercises.

  8. Elmuder

    Have a nice day Ms. Tina…
    Thank you for a wonderful article, it will truly be helpful not only in my personal purpose in life but with all the people I have ties with… my family, friends, business partner’s and future friends hope I could be guided and improved my personal relationship with other people to used me as God want me to be to enlighten, reach out and open some doors of opportunity as this is my dream to be part of a cause that will change the world for the better..
    Good luck and More power Tina.
    Pro God + Pro Life = Peace on Earth

  9. Anom

    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.

  10. Krystyna

    Hi! Thank you for your tips… The main thing is to do what you like, enjoy doing…

  11. Colleen

    This is my most favourite article that I have read on the internet. Well done you! xx

  12. Julie

    This is what I got:

    I need to educate other people in desperation on how they can better the qualify of fiancial situation by providing a support system based on hope, comfort, calmness showing them that I’m caring.

  13. Thanks for providing this simple-to-follow formula. It has helped to reassure me that I am on the right path and put my thoughts into a simple sentence.

  14. Hannah

    step 1:
    1.anime and manga
    2.past:playing with friends and watching cartoons and anime
    now: watching anime and reading manga
    3.watching anime, reading manga, drawing, reading other books, sleep
    4.my talent in drawing and knowledge in computer and my good english also memorizing too
    5.anime char. that I’ve liked so far,because of their traits the ones similar to mine and one that I don’t have
    6.drawing and computers
    7.in their studies, drawing, or just some errand
    8.God’s teachings
    9.to not be true to others esp. to myself
    10. a.my suffering
    b. my sorrow
    c. my hatred
    d. my wrath
    e. my love
    f. my respect
    g. my sacrifices
    h. my regrets
    i. revenges
    j. anime
    k. manga
    l. my sins
    m. sad memories
    n. jealousy
    o. envy
    p. my helplessness
    q. curiosity
    r. the ones I liked
    s. traitors
    t. people I don’t like
    u. unfair world
    v. the cruel life
    w. waste of time
    x. awful experiences
    y. hard life
    z. wanting to die
    11. a. Achievement
    b. curiosity
    c. education
    d. play
    e. intelligence
    f. Family
    12. too many challenges I solved them but there’s this one I’m stucked in and I don’t want to solve because its too troublesome
    13. anime and manga char.
    14. friends, family, acquiantances, relatives, or all the people that knows of my name, my message would be: “please stop pressuring me I’m now too stressed out, If anyone of you hates me very much and wants to kill me I be glad to be killed don’t hold back I gave you permission and If I wasn’t killed please understand me more don’t make your own conclussions or judgements on me because you really dont know the real me, Please just THAT (suicide wont do, killing myself is a sin. well maybe telling someone to kill me is a sin itself,mm…but oh well, if someone kill me I’d be happy than waiting for my life to end even if I know that killing me would just add up as their sin, I’ve lived too long, 13 yrs. is too long for me). ”
    15. I dont know and it won’t help but I can help in my own way.
    if for ex. I had a job and became rich I could give off all my money to those who have needs of it but try to know them before giving them money for my donation not to be of a waste.
    step 2: understand
    step 3: people, creatures
    step 4: maybe they can benefit and have a more easier life, with a secured.
    step 5: In the past and now, I’ve helped many people from their troubles. After helping me, of course they’d say “thanks / thank you” and I’ll reply “your welcome” of course. I’m not expecting for them to help me in exchange of helping them before. But I can say that it’s just human nature, for them to forget everything and just say “huh? really! I dont remember such thing” like that. Or they’ll just ask and ask for your help then always helping them in everything. Expecting for them to return the favor sometimes. They can benefit fr. me. But what benefit will I have God’s smile and blessing in helping others? is that it? then I’ll be selfish I’m tired letting them do as they please. Am I a dog being ordered and always answering in their request of course not.I wont stay quiet like that all the time. Animals are better than humans. Just tame them, they’ll do what you say. talk to them, they’ll listen to you. If you’re alone they’re there for you. I can benefit more in helping animals than humans. Buut humans are pitiful so I’ll just help them. But there’s one thing I want them to do, I don’t care if they won’t repay my kindness even if I’m in a pinch it’s fine, just UNDERSTAND me that’s all.

    Hmm…. maybe it helped me a bit

    But I still don’t know what my purpose is ,but oh well…I’ll just pass the time and await my death.

  15. Chetan

    Thanks Tina. The 15 questions are really powerful, sharp tools for getting the process started.

  16. Chetan

    Thanks Tina. The 15 questions are powerful, sharp tools to get the process started.

  17. I’ve done several exercises like this and so far I think this was the best. My personal mission is…

    Empower and inspire young parents/future parents to connect with their family, discover friends and have awesome experiences through playing, moving and producing.

  18. Maria

    I am experiencing a very challenging time in my life at the moment and welcome your practical and simple advice.
    I now realize that this time will pass and that I am on the right path, harnessing the now and moving forward in my life.
    Thanks again.

  19. Raphael Moura

    This made me cry. I understand I aways think about people… My purpose… I belive I’ll be a teacher. I like to write my books, but what makes me smile so much is guide and teach people, helping then with theory of life. Some pp call me coach, others call me filosofer. I just dont like the actual system of education… thats why I’m not on a high school. I’ld like to change some things. I belive in future… Peace, science and evolution. But I’m a coward believing I have ADD sometimes, cz I cant pay attention on normal things, only what makes me fell intelectually estimulated.

    Thank u. Now I know a little bit more about myself.

  20. Graham Fraser

    I’d like to say this helped…. but like every other one I’ve read, it didn’t. I sometimes feel as if I’m the only one NOT wearing rose tinted glasses.

    My answers are bellow. Don’t dismiss them as someone who doesn’t want to change, or someone who is just here to pick a fight. They are true, deeply felt, and I believe correct, views.

    1. What makes me smile? A good comedian who points out the utter stupidity of humanity.
    2. Favorite things to do? Get high… it blots out the frustration and feelings of futility.
    3. Activities that make me lose time? Video games, drugs.
    4. Feel great about myself? I have never once felt great about myself.
    5. Who inspires me? Not one soul.
    6. Naturally good at? Nothing. I am adequate at almost anything, good at nothing.
    7. People ask me to: they tend not to… I discourage it.
    8. If I had to teach something… no idea. I don’t know anything to teach.
    9. What would I regret? If I died, and somehow found out that it didn’t have to be this way. At 43 I am close to concluding that it does have to be, however.
    10. Can’t answer this. I won’t make 90 years, I won’t be blissfull, I have no achievements, and have acquired less than zero.
    11. Deepest values? I still have no idea what this means. Any person will violate any value at any time it suits them… meaning none of them are very deep, for any one.
    12. Biggest challanges: Staying alive. How’d I do it? Evolution – I can’t seem to pull the trigger. I place the blame wholly on God – any God that would create “All-This” is a waste of deification.
    13. Causes I believe in or connect with? Laughable question. None. Many are worthy – none are possible.
    14. Message to large group of people? No idea what message or to who – they wouldn’t listen anyway.
    15. I have no talents, no passions, and extremely fluid values and less than zero interest in “contributing” because it won’t fix anything. Feeding homeless people just leaves them more money for drugs. Rescuing animals just leaves us with too many dogs and cats. Curing world hunger would further over-populate the earth. Same with curing (insert disease of choice here) – just more people not dying, and putting more strain on the Earths ecosystem. Kicking off Armegeadon might be a good one to start with. Man deserves no less.

  21. Jash Dholani

    Man, all this is getting repeated. Internet is filled with all this. The same ideas have been re-written a million times. Now I don’t know why…I used to love all this, but now…it, sort of, feels like empty. I am now being more inclined towards hard-core spirituality. I think i have gown out of all this.

  22. I loved this post! I am in a similar phase of life as the things described here. Like some of the comments said, a lot of this information has been repeated other places but a few of your “15 Questions to Discover Your Life Purpose” really made me think and re-evaluate some of my core beliefs. Thanks for sharing! :)

  23. sameer

    hi Tina u r doing u r doing really a great human service .i always want to support such kind of activity. so keep on doing this work my all best support to u anytime .

  24. Observer

    Check this out: http://heylookaround.blogspot.in/2012/06/purpose-of-my-life.html. I am sure it will help. :-). Cheers!

  25. Fio

    Great post and very thoughtful. I have been looking for this information and the advice will be useful to me.

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