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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. Hey Tina,
    This is a GREAT post! Discovering your life’s purpose is probably the most important thing someone can do. Without knowing your purpose, everything else you do might be in vain, as you stated above.

    I wrote a post about this that I think you may enjoy:

    http://www.360degreesuccess.com/2011/04/how-to-define-your-true-purpose-and-passion-in-life/

    I’d love to hear what you think.

    Best,
    David

  2. I love these questions but discovering your life purpose may not lead to a career or work that involves your purpose. You can live your life purpose and still have to earn money doing something you’re not that crazy about. Dan Millman talks about this in all his life purpose books. Not everybody gets to make a living doing what they love but that shouldn’t stop people from living on purpose : )

  3. Very useful tool. Perfect system to get your brain focused on exactly what you need to be working towards. Inspired me to follow my dream and it seemed as if it attracted great things into my life.
    Greatly appreciate it!
    Follow me @Dakiddavo (Twitter)

  4. ely

    Tina, thanks so much for this article. It caught me at a turning point. It has changed the way I think. I’m thanking you with tears in my eyes.

  5. I plan on changing the world one day, An clearing the picture so everyone can see.

  6. maria

    this was really helpful. im 14 years old, and i guess i knew it deep down, what my purpose is, but this helped me realize that i dont want to be 90 years old and look back on my life with nothing accomplished that will make a lasting impression on this world, that i didnt change anything. i dont want to leave this world as if i was never here! my goal is to change lives for the better, help as many people as possible, establish as many relationships as possible, see all of this world that we’ve been given, realize the meaning of life, have strong faith in God, have tight bonds with my family, and know my place in this world! roughly 90-100 years is such a short time to live and make a difference! i have already lived 14 of those years and i have yet to accomplish something that really changed someone. i want to know for sure that at the end of my life, i will be satisfied and i will have left something behind here. i hope to live a long, meaningful life.

  7. Fabienne

    To know the reason of your existence, it is simple, ask to who create you = God

    If Bill Gate created a software, it is not for the software to ask himself, what on earth I am here for, it should ask that question to Bill Gates.

    Success is not to fulfill your dream, it is fulfiill what you were created for : if a mobile phone didn’t want to be used to phone, it’s not a success because it was created to be used to phone.

  8. Kym

    Thanks Tina,
    I have just started to write a new mission statement for myself to reflect where I am now going with my life.
    The 15 questions are an excellent way to drill it down so I can start to create new strategies in my life.

    Cheers
    Kym

  9. berlingots

    My Mission Statement:

    My love for the piano is what I aspire to do, to better feel and understand the world and others through the power of music and art, as well as to inspire others to join in, pick up their instruments, and play along to their hearts’ content to create a universal symphony for all to listen.

    P.S.: Thanks Tina for writing an excellent article.

  10. jai bholenath.
    om namah: shivay
    let there be peace.

    hello maam,
    i read your story. something similar happened to me a while back… basically i realized the same things you have been saying. i picked up the tarot, tibetan healing and channel healing and use it for helping whomever i can. i staretd meditating intensively as well. since my purpose matches yours i would be really happy if i could be of any assistance. my blog is omnamhshivaypeace.wordpress.com. i havent uploaded much right now… i will be soon though. …. also i face a bit of a problem that i would be really grateful if you can help me with.

    thank you so much for the article and i hope you achieve your life purpose. looking forward to a reply.

    om namah: shivay
    let there be peace.

  11. 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,
    Emmy

  12. Ash

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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

    Sarah

  18. 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

  19. 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.”

  20. Makka

    Great article Tina thankyou,

    I stumbled across this site, http://www.worldtransformation.com and thought you and your readers might be interested.

  21. 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

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

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