In his book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl stated that a person can withstand just about anything as long as they have a purpose to strive for.
So what happens when we don’t know what our purpose is, exactly?
Just about all of us have struggled with the idea of personal purpose at one point or another.
For some, it might happen in secondary school, when life is a maelstrom of trying to figure out what to do with the next 40 years. Others might face their struggle after a health crisis or major life event such as job loss, divorce, or widowhood.
At some point, we all look in the mirror and ask ourselves:
“What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Who do I want to be? What legacy do I want to leave?”
All of this can be very daunting, and can also inspire a fair bit of anxiety if the answer doesn’t come right away.
We may feel lost without a sense of purpose, or feel as though we’re being dragged along by a current that doesn’t feel right, but we don’t know what to do about it.
If you’re trying to figure out your life purpose and you feel stuck, that’s okay. That’s why we’re here to help each other, right?
How To Find Your Life Purpose
Try to set some time aside when you’re unlikely to be disturbed by others, and you have no pressing commitments to attend to.
Grab your journal and write down all the things that are important to you. Not just things you enjoy, but accomplishments that make you feel proud of yourself, things you do to help other people… basically things that make you feel fulfilled.
Next, write down your own version of a “bucket list,” but focus more on things you’d like to achieve in your life, rather than just things you’d like to experience.
Think of things such as wanting to establish a wildlife sanctuary, or be known for creating a line of hot sauces, rather than experiencing what it’s like to skydive naked.
Can I Have More Than One Life Purpose?
Whose permission are you asking? Are you seeking validation from other people as to how many different purposes you’re allowed to have?
Dear heart, you can have as many purposes, statements, and goals as you like.
Having multiple life passions isn’t just possible, it’s spectacular. For example, during the Renaissance, being a polymath (someone who excels at numerous pursuits) was both expected and encouraged. It’s only been fairly recently that hyper-focusing on one specific goal or career has been expected.
People are, by our very nature, adaptable creatures with various interests and skill sets. So why not have more than one purpose?
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.– Robert A. Heinlein
Let’s take a look at some powerful life purpose statements. Perhaps you’ll find one that can inspire your own in turn, or at least give you a starting point for discovering yours!
1. “I stand up for issues that I believe in, and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
This kind of life purpose statement is great for people for whom justice and mercy are of great importance.
For example, people who want to work with organizations such as Amnesty International, or various animal rights groups.
Are you thinking about pursuing a career in law? Or perhaps you’d like to dedicate yourself to animal rescues, or fundraising for veterans, or even volunteering for homeless outreach programs?
With this as your mantra, you’re bound to make extraordinary changes happen in the world.
2. “I am determined to leave the world in a better state than it is now.”
Are you an environmental activist? Do you carry spare bin bags in your pocket when you go out hiking so you can collect and dispose of other people’s rubbish?
Then a statement like this might be the right fit.
Howl it to the sky when you’re tossing seed bombs into empty fields to sow native pollinator flowers, or cleaning up oil spills around the world.
3. “I want to tell extraordinary stories, and inspire other people with my writing”
Are you a natural storyteller? Do you dream of writing a novel (or a series of novels!) that will engage people for years to come? That is absolutely magnificent.
The world is fuelled by stories, and the greatest ones are told and retold for generations. I mean, they’re still doing retellings and adaptations of Beowulf, and that was written a thousand years ago.
4. “I am called to dedicate myself to my spirituality, and help others who are on the same path as me.”
There are many different religions and spiritual paths around the world, and all have adherents who have dedicated their lives to spiritual practice.
If you are drawn to a spiritual life, you may find yourself wanting to enter an ashram, convent, or monastery.
Or perhaps you’d like to immerse yourself in religious studies in order to teach them to others.
If you have this type of calling, then a life purpose statement that encompasses your personal beliefs may be a great source of strength and inspiration for you.
5. “I will create stunning works of art that people can enjoy for centuries to come. That’s the legacy I want to leave: beauty.”
Have you noticed that most tourist attractions around the world center around art and architecture?
Millions of people flock to the Taj Mahal, the Louvre, Florence, and countless other places where they can bask in the beauty that other people have created.
Artists, designers, and architects have created works of absolute wonder, some of which have been filling people with awe for hundreds, even thousands of years.
If you’re inspired to create such beauty, then this is certainly a mission statement for you.
6. “I plan on being the change I want to see in this world.”
This is a more generalized life purpose statement, but a powerful one nonetheless.
If you’re struggling to figure out exactly what you want to do, but you know you want to do something to make the world a better place, then this is a good launching point.
After all, you can always change direction once you’re in motion. The key is to get started and gain momentum, right?
7. “I want to heal those who are hurting.”
A life purpose statement like this one would suit anyone who wants to be of service in a healing capacity.
This might be physical healing, such as a surgeon or physio/massage therapist. Alternatively, it could encompass mental, emotional, or spiritual pain, such as can be alleviated with psychotherapy, counselling, or other non-physical support.
If you’re drawn to the healing arts, and want to alleviate other people’s suffering, then a simple mission statement like this might be just what you’re looking for.
8. “I will build a loving home for my family, and support my children’s dreams and endeavors.”
These kinds of life purpose statements are ideal for those for whom family and child rearing are top priority.
If your kids are your world, and you want to dedicate your life to parenting (and eventually grandparenting), then something in this vein might suit you well.
Parents, guardians, and foster parents can help set the foundations for other people’s lifelong well-being and success.
Parenting is, of course, one of the hardest jobs, but is also one of the most rewarding.
9. “I would like to receive recognition for excelling in my career, and to retire knowing that I have made exceptional contributions to my field of expertise.”
If you’ve found a career that you absolutely love, and you’d like to dedicate your life to it, then that’s excellent! You’ve found your purpose, and the statement that will help fuel you.
Whenever you’re having a bad day, and either your coworkers or projects you’re working on are making you feel disheartened, remember this statement.
In fact, try printing it out in a really elegant typeface and pinning it above your desk.
10. “I aim to use my skills to feed the hungry, and teach people how to grow food for themselves and for each other.”
Is food your passion? Do you want to help to end hunger, and hopefully equip others with the skills they need to feed themselves and their families?
Then let a life purpose statement like this one inspire you.
Food security is an issue that may well affect everyone around the world at some point, so knowing how to grow and cook food ourselves is invaluable.
And if you have the ability to teach these skills to others, you can create immense positive change in this world.
11. “I want to amass knowledge, and then share it with others.”
Do you thrive in academia? And do you love sharing all you’ve learned with other people? Then teaching sounds like a pretty solid life purpose for you.
There is a startling amount of wisdom and knowledge out there in the world. So much to discover, and revel in, and then share with others.
Whether your goal is to teach, or to write, you’re bound to expand countless horizons with your endeavors.
Remember that your purpose is likely to change several times over the course of your lifetime. That’s absolutely okay, and nothing to freak out about.
After all, we are all constantly growing and changing, and our experiences may inspire us to shift direction dramatically at least once or twice.
When this happens, take some time to regroup and then repeat the same process again.
Take stock of where you are, where you want to be, who you want to be, and how you want to move forward. Then, create a new life purpose statement or mantra to inspire you, scrawl it on the wall, shout it to the heavens, and leap forward into that new life.
You may also like:
- 100 Examples Of Personal Mantras (+ How To Create Your Own)
- 101 Personal Mottos To Live By (And How To Choose One)
- 9 Ways You Can Leave A Positive Lasting Legacy Behind
- What Is A Personal Philosophy? 4 Steps To Developing One.
- 20 Things You Really Ought To Believe In