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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. 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.

  2. 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 :)

  3. 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 :)

  4. chencheyao

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. Erik

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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!!

  10. 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?

  11. 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.

  12. 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?


    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…


  14. 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!

  15. 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.


  16. 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 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 ….

  17. 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 @ 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

  18. 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!!

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

  20. 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

  21. 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.

  22. Krystyna

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

  23. Colleen

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

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

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