Having purpose in life gives us a sense of belonging. Human beings have an inherent desire to belong to a community and to be a part of something greater than themselves. Defining our purpose in life leads us to experience these connections. But how do we define a life purpose?
As we mature, we begin to know ourselves better with each passing year and each experience we encounter. We begin to develop a value system by which we measure ourselves and our life. It is that value system that is the basis of our life purpose. Declaring our values and examining how they shape our behavior and choices can help us articulate our life purpose. Once articulated, our life purpose becomes a powerful, guiding motivation toward fulfillment and genuine gratitude in life.
To articulate a life purpose, one can use a combination of techniques, including language and pictures. Writing a list of the values by which we aspire to live and combining it with a list of adjectives that we believe describe us, along with a list of verbs that describe our actions, we can cross-reference the lists to begin articulating a statement of life purpose: a personal mission statement. This can be an intense process and is aided with input from close friends and family, acting as a mirror for us.
For those who are visual, making a vision board is a powerful way to define a life purpose. By collecting pictures from various magazines of interest to us, and arranging them on a poster board, we can create a life purpose in pictures. Pictures that depict actions, lifestyles, dynamics, and environments that speak to our values can become a visual depiction of a life purpose.
Both of these techniques are meant to help us identify what motivates us, the “why” of rising in the morning and engaging in life in a manner that leads to fulfillment, human connection, and gratitude. Once we begin to articulate our life purpose, we will see how it shapes our behavior, our career choices, our community involvement, and the pursuit of our goals.
With a life purpose articulated in this way, we begin to live intentionally. Our relationships are enriched as we better understand how human dynamics are influenced by our values. We can begin to live up to our potential. By living with a purpose greater than immediate material gain, but one based on our inner values, we allow ourselves to develop more fully as human beings. Purposeful, intentional living leads to genuine happiness. We experience the gift of caring for and uplifting others. Material gain and fulfillment will follow as an after effect. We will experience more personal fulfillment and less stress when living within our life purpose.
A life purpose, or personal mission statement, can contain phrases such as “I am a leader who encourages others to …” or “I use my God-given talents in … to enrich the lives of others.” This definition of your life purpose, or your statement of intentional living, can be as long or short as you want to make it to define what you feel is the reason you wake every day and engage in a meaningful way with others. A life purpose can evolve as you grow as a person, or as you realize more acutely how to express it. For example, a parent’s life purpose may be related to raising happy, healthy children. After those children are grown up and on their own, the parent’s life purpose may change to benefiting others by sharing the same knowledge, commitment, and caring that they used in raising their children.
Defining and articulating your life purpose is a gift you give yourself, allowing you to gift others through your value system.