If you’re trying to find your life purpose, the central motivating aims of your life, and to find better ways to manage your time and be more productive, there’s an exercise that will help you determine what motivates you. Discovering the core of what drives you, what motivates you to do things will be a much more powerful tool than any time management technique or productivity trick. And it will help you in finding your purpose so you can steer your ship in the right direction.
This is a life-changing exercise and – depending on the person – it generally doesn’t take a lot of time. Some people may need to do this life purpose exercise multiple times before they get to the core reason why. I had to do this exercise about four times before I gained clarity on my life purpose and felt that I really got to the core of what motivates me.
This exercise, this way of thinking is often commonly used in problem-solving. As the CEO of FIRMSconsulting.com and StrategyTraining.com, I also use this exercise for our training programs. But my favorite application of this excercize is for discovering life purpose.
What Is Life Purpose?
Before we dive into the exercize, lets define what is life purpose. Life purpose can be defined as understanding what you really came here to do. What you want to dedicate your life to. Some also deinfe life purpose as having a set of goals and a direction for person’s life (Hill et al., 2010).
There is a slight difference between the meaning in life and life purpose. Life purpose refers to being engaged in purpose-driven actions towards some key goal. And life purpose is just one element that contributes to a meaningful and fulfilling life.
Having purpose in life gives motivation and a sense of fulfilment. It often involves a feeling of being able to contribute to making the world better in some meaningful way. And this feeling allows you to reach higher levels of well-being and fulfillment.
How Can We Define Life Purpose
Life purpose means slightly different things to different people. According to one study there are four different types of purpose (Hill et al., 2010).
Creative. Refers to artistic goals and a propensity for originality
Prosocial. Refers to a propensity to help others and influence the societal structure
Personal recognition. Refers to person’s desire for recognition and respect from colleagues
Financial. Refers to goals of financial well-being and administrative success
Although it is questionable if “financial” and “personal recognition” categories actually refer to life purpose.
Life Purpose Exercise: Finding Your Passion & Purpose in Life
So, let’s use the powerful exercise I mentioned earlier, and showcased in the video above, to assist us with finding your passion & purpose in life. What is your life purpose. What is the core thing that motivates you.
The beauty of this exercise is that even though we are searching for your life purpose, your passion, your initial question can be almost anything related to your life purpose.
Let’s say that your initial question is: “Why do I need to be successful?” Pick a question that is close to you. If you care more about fulfilling your mission than being successful, then ask, “Why do I need to fulfill my mission?” If you specifically care about what is it you are passionate about you can ask “Whay is my greatest passion?.” If you just generally trying to identify your life’s work, your life purpose, then you can ask “What is my life purpose?”
Write down your answer and read it. Your answer should begin with the word “so.”
Why do I need to be successful? So that I can take care of my family.
Ask yourself why you need to take care of your family, and answer that question honestly. For example:
Why do I need to take care of my family? So that they never have to suffer like I suffered.
Read your answers to the questions:
Why do I need to be successful? So that I can take care of my family.
Why do I need to take care of my family? So that they don’t suffer as much as I did.
Why is it important to me that they do not suffer as much as I did?
Continue reading your answers and asking yourself “why” for each answer you write.
So that they did not suffer as I did.
Why is it important to me that they do not suffer as much as did? I want them to have a good life.
Why is it important to me that they have a good life? Because I want them to enjoy the journey.
Why is it important to me that they enjoy the journey?
Those are just some hypothetical answers. When you give answers that are close to your heart, at some point you will get an answer that will grab you and may even bring you to tears. If you don’t get to an answer that grabs you, you need to keep diving down. If you get to 12 answers, go back and restart the exercise. We are searching for your life purpose, your mission, what you are passionate about. It is worth to take the required time to get clarity.
Life Purpose Examples
My Answers to Finding Life Purpose Exercise
You may find it very helpful to see some life purpose examples. So I’m going to show you something very personal: my answers to this life purpose exercise. You might not know this, but I’ve always felt that I had a mission and that I came here for a reason. I’m still not 100% sure what it is. I’m trying to fulfill it through writing (I published over 20 books), coaching (I coach clients from all over the world to help them succeed in corporate careers and in building their own busienss), consulting and generally helping people around the world to fulfill their potential and change the world. I believe that’s part of my mission but not all of it. I haven’t come close to completely fulfilling my mission yet.
This is why my question was related to why it’s so important to me to achieve my mission – because it literally drives my life. It is what motivates me. I needed to get to the core of it, so I did this exercise about four times, and it took me more than seven questions each time to get to the core.
Here are my answers to life purpose exercise:
So I fulfill my mission.
Why is it important for you to fulfill your mission? So I don’t waste my life.
Why is it important for you to not waste your life? So my soul can serve, in the position that I came here to serve.
Why is it important to you for your soul to serve in a position that you came here to serve? So I feel peace. So I know I did what I came here to do. So I can breathe.
Why is it important to you to feel peace and know that you did what you came here to do? Why is it important to you to feel peace? So that I don’t waste my soul’s power to make the world better.
Why is it important to you to not waste your soul’s power to make the world better? So I did not suffer for no reason.
Why is it important for you that you did not suffer for no reason? So that all the pain I had to go through will not be wasted.
Why is it important to you that all the pain that you had to go through will not be wasted? So that I know I did everything right. (This is a very important element, and I only arrived here after the seventh question. You have to keep digging. The reason it is important is because I have some significance related to needing to do things right. I suffer tremendously if I make a mistake where I could have done better.)
Why is it important to you that you did everything right? So I suffered for a reason. (The suffering was coming back. At the core of me, I don’t want the challenging journey that I went through to go to waste. I want to use the pain that I had to go through to make a positive difference. Otherewise, it was all for nothing. Without making a sufficient positive difference in the world, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish what I came here to accomplish. I want to make sense of it. I want to make sure that it meant something and that I didn’t suffer for no reason.)
Why is it important to you that you didn’t suffer for no reason? So I can keep my head high and know my soul did what it came here to do.
Why is it important to you that you keep your head high and know that your soul did what it came here to do? Because no one else is coming. I’m the only one who is coming. (Because the mission that I came here to do that was assigned to my soul, no one else is coming to fulfill that mission. It’s my job. It’s what I came here to deal with – my mission, which has something to do with making the world better, helping people stop suffering.)
The “Why” is Very Different for Every Person
I hope you’ll try out this very powerful exercise. It will help you get to that core thing of what motivates you. If you’re struggling to get up in the morning and you don’t want to work, thinking about the real purpose that motivates you is what will give you the energy, excitement, and enthusiasm to get up and get things done. This quote by Friedrich Nietzsche comes to mind,“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
Everyone will have different answers to these questions. Another life purpose example answer is: “so that I’ll never go back.” I can really relate to this because everything I have now was earned with blood, sweat, and tears. I started my life with nothing. I had to build everything from scratch, without any help. I definitely never want to go back.
Another life purpose example answer for some people is that they let someone down and that person died, and they want to make that person proud. Let’s say someone was the only son of a single mom, and the son was an alcoholic when she died. In the eyes of society, he was a failure. He felt that he owed it to her to be a better son. When she died, he promised himself that he would make her proud every day.
Maybe you’ve seen someone close to you waste their life, and you don’t want your life to be wasted. Or maybe you’ve lost someone you love, and you want to spend time with people who are important to you.
The “why” is very different for every person. You need to understand what it is for you. Once you understand your motivation, you will be able to use it to empower you to do anything. It will be your secret weapon. When you are waiting for an interview for a job you really want and you feel scared, you can connect to your why. You know what motivates you. Why are you doing what you’re doing. What is the real motivation that almost brings you to tears.
You may be scared to do something important as a next step for your business or career. If you connect to your why, it will give you the strength to go on.
Once you get to the core of what motivates you, you will feel it hit a nerve.
If you’ve done this exercise, let me know. What was the breakthrough for you? What truth did you get out of exercise? You can let me know here or email [email protected].
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