Defining Your Personal Purpose
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” – Helen Keller
The foundation for creating and living a purpose-centered life is based on key elements which, when present, support you to lead a meaningful life. The path to discovering personal purpose starts with identifying who you are, what you do, and what it is you contribute.
Identify your Core Attributes — the qualities that you use to manifest your purpose. Knowing these attributes, and clearly acknowledging they are available to you in any context, offers a sense of security. You can elicit your Core Attributes by asking, “What kind of person am I?” or “What’s been true of me since I was a youngster?” Write down all attributes you can think of that are true of you. Examples of Core Attributes might be: honest, loving, compassionate, independent, determined, curious.
Define each attribute in your own words, expressed by your experience. Ask, “What does it mean to be (attribute)?” Test each attribute through counterexamples. This is a key piece of the process.
Find an actual experience of yours that suggests that perhaps you are NOT an (attribute) person. If you find a counterexample, establish whether or not it bothered you at the time that you did not (could not) express it, and/or, recognize how you were in fact, in some way manifesting that attribute. You will feel bad when your attributes are absent. This feeling proves the attribute is part of you. If in fact, you were not in some way expressing that attribute and/or it did not bother you that you were not expressing it, this suggests it is not one of your Core Attributes.
Identify and elicit your natural gifts. These are skills and abilities (both internal and external) that translate your Purpose into behavior and action. Your Natural Gifts are the abilities you have naturally learned and developed. You probably take your Natural Gifts for granted, not recognizing them for the special, significant, and unique abilities they actually are.
Find at least three activities in both your personal and your professional life and then answer the following questions: What do you absolutely, truly enjoy doing in your professional life? and What do you absolutely, truly enjoy doing in your personal life? For each of your answers consider: what abilities do you have that help make it possible for you to do that (what you truly enjoy)? What are you really good at, that maybe you take for granted? Be objective!
Review all your answers and group your responses according to those that are about the same and describe the essences of that ability. Examples might be: to connect with others in a loving way, or see the big picture, or be able to elicit trust, or spatially visualize the mechanical structure. Your Purpose is the essence of what you contribute to the world simply by virtue of who you are, rather than because of what you know, own, or can do. Knowing your Purpose offers a sense of significance.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Live your life on Purpose and you have the context for making important decisions based on where you find fulfillment and contribute to your world. You leverage your abilities to the fullest, liberating a sense of significance. On Purpose, you move proactively through life, with confidence, effectiveness, creativity, and passion!