Simple Formula for Purpose

If you’re like me and most others, you’ve done plenty of soul-searching about purpose, especially during a career or life transition. You know purpose is essential, but it’s hard to find a good process to determine it.

People who use time wisely spend it on activities that advance their overall purpose in life.

John C. Maxwell

Simple, effective way to determine purpose

People often talk about finding purpose as if it’s a eureka moment of discovery after sitting on the beach in the lotus position, uncovering buried treasure at the top of a mountain, or emerging from incense-filled, guru-guided meditation.

I’ve nothing against beaches, mountains, or meditation. They’re not necessary for determining purpose.

Determining is correct because you decide for yourself; it’s not something you discover out of the blue or that strikes you like a lightning bolt.

The formula is simple: X so that Y.

X is what you do, the role that you play. Y is why you do it – the impact or outcomes you create. Start with a general statement of purpose. You’ll see how to refine it in my next email.

I am becoming more fit so that I have better health, more stamina, and a higher quality of life.

I volunteer at my church so that I can help them take care of the poor in our community.

I coach youth sports so that I can help my student-athletes become good adults.

Create a simple purpose statement for each major element of your life. Use personal, professional, social, and community for starters. You can use this chart as a guide.

The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.

Albert Schweitzer

Keep this chart simple and update it during transitions. Determining purpose is not a one-time event. It’s a continuous process that evolves through your phases and transitions.

In the next email, you’ll get ways to add structure to your purpose statements focusing on Joy, Capacity, and Impact.

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

George Carlin