Why should anyone be concerned with identifying their Purpose and Mission in life? What good is it? Will it really make any difference with living life in this hodgepodge world of the mundane and chaotic?
What’s the difference between Purpose, Mission and Vision? Do I need big goals to have a Purpose and Mission? Or is it the other way around? Is this some kind of useless, fuzzy-bullshit, corporate or new age stuff?
Hang on, let’s see what it means for you . . .
What Are The Benefits of Identifying a Personal Purpose & Mission?
Do you bounce around life in an uncontrolled fashion not really knowing why you’re doing something – like a cork tossed about on the surface of a stormy sea?
Are you dissatisfied and frustrated with life? Do you have an anxiousness within; a nagging feeling that something isn’t right and there’s more to life than what you’re living?
Do you wonder if you’re here on Earth for a specific reason but have no idea how to identify that reason?
If so, then you could reap great rewards from taking the time to determine your personal Purpose and Mission in life.
Here are the compelling benefits:
- Laser-like focus for your life; Avoid distractions; Eliminate wasted time and energy
- Know what’s most important to you; Live a purpose-driven life with a sense of direction
- Simplified decision-making – no waffling; Know exactly what you should or shouldn’t be doing
- Live a life of certainty, confidence and self-esteem
- Stay aligned with your critical personal core values, and attract people who have similar values
- Change your life in an extremely positive way; get incredible results; Accomplish valuable goals; Impact the world; Leave a legacy
- Experience a sense of energy, excitement, motivation, passion and gratitude
- Know who you are – to the core; See the Big Picture
- Experience in-depth happiness and satisfaction
- Gain personal freedom and independence
Without identifying a personal Purpose and Mission you’re relinquishing your future to a haphazard road map of unquestioned turns and directions.
Don’t live with randomness, indecision, doubt, uncertainty, and confusion.
“You are the architect of your dreams.” – Andy Andrews
What is the Difference Between Purpose and Mission?
Purpose . . . Mission . . . Vision . . . Goals . . . What’s the difference? Don’t they all get you to where you need to go?
Maybe. It depends on the order you tackle them.
If you simply start setting big goals without having identified your Purpose and Mission, you run the risk of choosing goals that others portray to you as important. What good is it to pursue other people’s goals? It just leads to dissatisfaction, frustration and unhappiness.
Most of the online resources don’t bother distinguishing a rigid difference across Purpose, Mission and Vision. And even the ones who attempt it have varied success in conveying why you should even bother splitting hairs about the differences.
From a general perspective, here are the nuances:
PURPOSE – Why do you exist? Why are you here? Your purpose is the reason why you should be doing what you’re doing in life – your raison d’être. It brings excitement and passion to living. It’s the truest & deepest meaning of life for you.
MISSION – How will you accomplish your purpose.? How will you get there? How will you focus? What will you do and How will you do it? It’s about action. Mission is your personal philosophy of what you hope to be and intend to accomplish, based on your Purpose. It’s doing what matters and eliminating the distractions. What will you allow in your life and how will you positively influence others?
VISION – What will it look like when you arrive at your destination? Where do you want to be? This is a mental picture of your optimal future state – the Result you want to obtain based on your Purpose and Mission. What does the difference you’ll make look like? It’s a vivid and inspirational mental picture of where you ultimately want to be in life. It inspires you to set goals.
Some workshop exercises ignore Purpose because it comes out within the Mission and Vision. Others ignore Vision and focus on Purpose and Mission. Some identify Purpose as being the same as Mission. If you follow the better workshop exercises, you’ll end up getting to the critical end-point either way, which is identifying your Purpose and Mission.
The way I see it: Purpose drives Mission which, in turn, drives Vision, which drives Goals
Purpose —-> Mission —–> Vision —–> Goals
Here’s a nice visual I found on the web of a hierarchy that matches my conception of those four elements (top to bottom):
Several less-than-adequate resources will have you defining goals before you’ve identified your Purpose and Mission. I adamantly DISAGREE. It’s foolish to identify goals before Purpose and Mission. That’s one of the problems with living your social conditioned life – because you’re likely to be convinced something outside you is your true Purpose and Mmission – when it is not. You end up pursuing goals that others have identified for you as critical and valuable, and you mistakenly see them as important. They’re not your true goals. This is a road to frustration and unhappiness.
The best method to determine your Personal Purpose and Mission is an exercise in self-discovery. You need to spend some quality quiet time with a series of introspective questions and an honest attempt on your part to self-discover.
The best online resources I’ve found with a great set of questions are nearly identical and can be found here:
- ThinkSimpleNow.com – Life on Purpose: 15 Questions to Discover Your Personal Mission
- RedesignMyExistence.com – How To Find Your Purpose In Life & Write Your Personal Mission Statement
Those two, by far, have the most effective set of questions to allow a proper introspective adventure and self-discovery.
A couple of decent runner-ups (but not quite as thorough) include:
- Success.com – Answer 6 Questions to Reveal Your Life Purpose
- PlanetOfSuccess.com – The Personal Mission Statement Guide
The first article noted above has fifteen excellent questions to identify your life Purpose, so I’ll list them here.
Find a quiet place and time. Take a pad of paper and write out your answers as quick as they come to you – the first thing that pops in your head. Be honest with yourself and don’t give other people’s answers. Answer genuinely about you; from your gut.
Don’t edit. Don’t second guess. Don’t change your answers. Spend only about 30 to 60 seconds per question.
- What makes you smile? (activities, people, events, hobbies, projects, etc.)
- What are your favorite things to do in the past? What about now?
- What activities make you lose track of time?
- What makes you feel great about yourself?
- Who inspires you most? (Anyone you know or do not know. Family, friends, authors, artists, leaders, etc.) Which qualities inspire you, in each person?
- What are you naturally good at? (skills, abilities, gifts etc.)
- What do people typically ask you for help in?
- If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
- What would you regret not fully doing, being or having in your life?
- 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.
- What are your deepest values?
- What were some challenges, difficulties and hardships you’ve overcome or are in the process of overcoming? How did you do it?
- What causes do you strongly believe in? Connect with?
- If you could get a message across to a large group of people. Who would those people be? What would your message be?
- 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.)
Go back through your answers and circle or highlight the words and phrases that jump out at you as the most important. Prioritize them from most important to least important.
After answering all those questions, pause and consider . . . what are you truly passionate about?
Combine that passion with your prioritized words into a sentence or two that best describes your purpose.
I had four memorable introspective events that helped solidify my Purpose.
- My first encounter with any kind of exercise in a Personal Purpose or Mission was probably about 1995, in the early days of the web. I had become interested in self-improvement and success and came across a brief exercise online someone had written – probably for identifying life goals. It had a major impact on me, stopping me in my tracks and forcing me to look inward for genuine answers to my true purpose – not just pursuing monetary “success” in life at the expense of all else – instead, something real and significant.
The scenario? (similar to #10 above)
Imagine yourself on your Deathbed. Look back over your life and where it’s brought you in this moment. What will you need to have done and accomplished to feel that you lived life well? A fulfilling life? Throughout life, what’s been most important to you as you ready yourself for death?
- Then, about three-to-five years ago, I found a particularly significant question in an introspective exercise. This made a huge difference for me. Identifying a Gnawing Purpose:
Think back over your entire childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. What is it that continually came up over and over through those years that was very important to you – a passion for you? Something gnawing at you that you couldn’t let go and forget – or outgrow? A relentless feeling to pursue something. What was the repetitive theme, value, or activity?
- In late 2012, I went though a process to identify my Core Personal Values. This, too, really helped zero in on my Purpose. (#11 above)
- I’ve always had an issue with procrastination and lack of action to implement my biggest desires (due to recurring fear, self-doubt and perfectionism). In late 2015 I finally bit the bullet and decided I wanted to take action on what/how I wanted to leave a Legacy. (Legacy is missing from the fifteen questions above, but appears in some of the other sources noted in this article.) That’s what pushed me to the point of creating and focusing on this web site. I created it in January 2016 with the intent to write for whoever could relate – anyone with open ears, eyes and mind. But my main focus was to perhaps influence one or more of my descendants to live beyond the norm; to excel and live a fulfilling life.
“While goals are chosen, a purpose is discovered. Our purpose is something we have been doing all along, and will continue to do, regardless of circumstances, until the day we die.”
― Peter McWilliams, Do It!
The same article goes on to describe how to identify your life Mission:
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:
- Do the exercise with the 15 questions above as quickly as you can. [and the bonus introspections]
- List out action words you connect with. (examples: educate, accomplish, empower, encourage, improve, help, give, guide, inspire, integrate, master, motivate, nurture, organize, produce, promote, travel, spread, share, satisfy, understand, teach, write, etc.)
- Based on your answers to the 15+ questions, list everything and everyone that you believe you can help. (examples: people, creatures, organizations, causes, groups, environment, etc.)
- Identify your end goal. How will the ‘who’ from your above answer benefit from what you ‘do’?
- Combine steps 2-4 into a sentence, or 2-3 sentences. That should be your Mission Statement.
You personal Mission Statement should get you excited about life. It should be action oriented – describing what you want to do with your life and who/what will you impact.
Your life from this point forward should be guided by the results of this exercise. Your Purpose and Mission will allow you to more easily make decisions based on what you should be doing with your life. If new opportunities and activities arise that don’t align with your Purpose and Mission – don’t pursue them.
Mission Statement Tips:
– Keep it short & positive
– Make it emotional: It should infuse you with passion and ignite the fire within you
– Make it future-oriented & include the people who matter most
Your personal Purpose and Mission Statement should drive your Vision and Goals – pushing you to excel in the very thing you’re on the Earth to achieve.
This self-discovery exercise is powerful. It will change your life. It will give you confidence and focus.
Go for it!
“A man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in his heart, and set out to accomplish it. He should make this purpose the centralizing point of his thoughts. He should make this purpose his supreme duty, and should devote himself to its attainment, not allowing his thoughts to wander away into ephemeral fancies, longings, and imaginings. This is the royal road to self-control and true concentration of thought.” – James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
“Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes creative force: he who knows this is ready to become something higher and stronger than a mere bundle of wavering thoughts and fluctuating sensations; he who does this has become the conscious and intelligent wielder of his mental powers,” – James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
Some of the best online sources for this topic:
- Life on Purpose: 15 Questions to Discover Your Personal Mission, ThinkSimpleNow.com
- How To Find Your Purpose In Life & Write Your Personal Mission Statement, RedesignMyExistence.com
- Answer 6 Questions to Reveal Your Life Purpose, Success.com
- The Personal Mission Statement Guide, PlanetOfSuccess.com
- The Difference Between Purpose and Mission, Aespire.com
- The Ultimate Guide to Writing Your Own Personal Mission Statement, AndyAndrews.com
- How To Write A Personal Mission Statement In 8 Steps, LiveBoldAndBloom.com
As with any sourcing on the internet, links can go ‘dead’ after a time. If you find the above-mentioned links no longer working, try the WayBack Machine: http://archive.org/web/web.php It’s sometimes a good way to pull up and view websites that are no longer active.