How to Find Your Purpose in Life

How to Find Your Purpose in Life - Jack Canfield

I first embarked on the journey to find my purpose in life back when I was in college. I majored in Chinese history but in my senior year, looking for an “easy A,” I took an elective course called Social Relations 10. 

In that class, we talked about our feelings and got to know each other on a deeper level than I had with anyone else I’d ever known. I discovered that I loved learning about human behavior and realized that this was what I wanted to do with my life.

As I delved deeper into the study of psychology and personal development over the next few decades, my purpose became increasingly clear. I understood that, for me, my purpose in life is to inspire and empower people to live their highest vision in the context of love and joy.

Since then, my whole life has been developed around that goal. Nothing gives me greater joy and fulfillment than when my thoughts and actions are fully aligned with my purpose.  

So many people ask me, “What is life purpose?” and want to know more about how to find your passion, or how to figure out what you want to do in life. Today I’d like to teach you why it’s important to find your purpose in life and help you do just that! 

What is Life Purpose?

I believe that we are put on this earth to live our soul’s purpose. To me, that means using our unique gifts and talents to make a positive impact in the world and help create the world we want to see. 

Why is it so important to find your purpose in life? 

Well, when you are focused on living your purpose and making a positive impact in the world, the people, resources, and opportunities you need will naturally gravitate toward you. 

Not only that – everyone around you benefits, too. When you act in alignment with your true life purpose, all of your actions automatically serve others.

Life Purpose Statement Examples

Everyone’s life purpose is unique. 

During my events and workshops, I always love to hear the different life purpose statements my participants create. 

Here are just a few examples of life purpose statements that people have shared over the years:

  • To empower small business owners to systematize for easier revenue generation and more freedom in their lives. (Small-business consultant and author)
  • To inspire children to have faith in themselves and believe in their natural genius. (Educator)
  • To create a world in which people are living ecologically sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, and socially just lives. (Environmentalist and social activist)
  • To help women entrepreneurs find their voice and use it to grow successful businesses that give them joy, meaning, and abundance (Speaking coach)   

Without a clear sense of purpose, it’s easy to get sidetracked on your life’s journey. Once you know what your purpose in life is, you can organize all of your activities around it so everything you do is an expression of that purpose. 

Find Your Passion

What is your purpose? And what are you most passionate about? 

If you want to know how to figure out what you want to do in life, know that finding the answers to these questions is a journey,
not a destination.

It’s an evolving process of self-discovery that brings your thoughts and actions increasingly into alignment with who you want to be and the kind of impact you want to make in the world. 

If you’re wondering how to find your passion and how to figure out what to do with your life, turn inwards. We are all born with an inner compass that tells us whether or not we’re on the right path to finding our true purpose. That compass is our JOY.

If you enjoy what you’re doing and it fulfills you, you’re on the right track. If not, it’s time to readjust your course. It’s that simple! 

When you listen to your inner compass and learn to ignore any outside influences that are pointing you in the wrong direction, you’ll find that discovering the purpose of life isn’t so hard after all.

Understand the Meaning of Life

Psychologists have determined through extensive research that the key factors to finding meaning in life are: 

  1. Values
  2. Principles
  3. Purpose
  4. Accomplishment
  5. Excitement

These cornerstones of finding meaning in life are all intrinsically part of living in alignment with your purpose as well.   

Living your life’s purpose requires you to live in full integrity with your values and principles. Otherwise, you won’t feel like your actions are helping make a positive impact in the world. 

It also forces you to move beyond your comfort zone, take risks, and achieve goals that give you a sense of accomplishment, grow your confidence, and help you discover what you’re truly capable of achieving. 

Finally, living your purpose allows you to realize that the most joyous and fulfilling lives are those spent in the service of others. It teaches you to be humble and understand that we are all connected at the deepest possible level. 

Once you feel that deep sense of connection to the universe around you, that’s when you know you’ve discovered the true meaning of life. 

To find the meaning of life, ask yourself how strong you feel in each of the five areas above and see what you can do to experience them more in your life.  

Break Through to Find Your Sense of Purpose

As you pursue your passions and embark on your journey of finding meaning in life, challenges or obstacles will appear that can stand in the way of discovering the purpose of life. You may find yourself: 

  • Being forced by outside influences to go down a life path you don’t enjoy and isn’t aligned with your sense of purpose.
  • Prioritizing money and prestige above doing what you love – which can derail your progress and stop you from figuring out what you want to do with your life.
  • Feeling that it’s too late to find your true purpose. But it’s never too late to start doing what makes you happy! I know people who found their life purpose in their 70s or even older and it has completely transformed their lives and made them happier than they have ever been. 

Once you’ve pinpointed the specific obstacles holding you back, you can learn to ignore anything that sends you in the wrong direction and focus on activities that help you achieve your purpose-driven goals. 

For some of us, discovering the purpose of life is easy. We’re born with a set of obvious talents and through persistent practice, we develop our talents into skills. 

For others, it’s not so obvious. Most people spend years trying to find answers to questions such as, 

“What should I do with my life?”  

“What is my passion?”

“What is my purpose in life?”

So, here are 10 steps to help you find your unique answers to these life-defining questions:

1. Explore the Things You Love To Do

Your life purpose isn’t something you need to make up or invent; it’s already there. Your role is to uncover it to create the life you want

You can start discovering your passion or your purpose by exploring two things:

  1. What do you love to do?
  2. What comes easily to you?

Just because you love something and it’s easy doesn’t mean that you won’t have to work to develop your talents and skills – even the most gifted musician still has to practice – but it should feel natural, like rowing downstream rather than upstream. In other words, work is required, but suffering is not. 

2. Ask Yourself What Qualities You Enjoy Expressing the Most in the World

First, ask yourself, What are the two qualities I most enjoy expressing in the world? 

Mine is love and joy.

Second, ask yourself, What are two ways I most enjoy expressing these qualities? 

Mine is to inspire and empower people.

I inspire people with the stories I share in my seminars and books, and I empower them by teaching them powerful success strategies that they can apply in their own lives.

So, what qualities do you enjoy expressing most?

3. Create a Life Purpose Statement

Your life purpose statement describes what the world would look like if it were operating perfectly according to your personal values. 

To craft your life purpose statement, combine your two qualities and how you enjoy expressing them with your vision of the world you desire to create. 

For example, in my perfect world, everybody lives their highest vision and has everything they need to be happy. 

That’s why my life purpose statement is, “Inspiring and empowering people to live their highest vision in a context of love and joy.” 

So, how can you use your best qualities to create the world you want to live in? 

4. Decide Where You Want to Go

To further clarify the purpose of life for you, I encourage you to use powerful mindset tools such as goal setting, affirmations, and visualization to illuminate the best path forward. 

A vision board or daily meditation practice will also help. 

The clearer your journey is in your own mind, the easier it will be for you to broadcast it into the universe and attract the people, resources, and opportunities you need to achieve your goals. 

Meditation, affirmations, and visualization also make it easier for you to listen to your “inner GPS” and use joy as your compass to confirm whether you are heading in the right direction. 

5. Be Clear About Your Life Purpose

Take some time to think honestly and openly about where you currently are in your life and what you want to do with your life.

What is your financial status? How are your relationships going? How is your health? (And so on…) 

Next, think about where you would like to be.

If your life was perfect right now, what would it look like? What kind of job would you have and where would you be living? 

By continually doing this exercise, you’ll send powerful triggers to your subconscious mind to help you get there.

And when you present your goals to the universe you will be surprised by what it delivers. This is where the magic and miracles happen!

6. Conduct a Passion Test

What are you most passionate about? 

Your purpose is based on the things you care most about. So, if you’re still finding it difficult to clarify exactly what your purpose in life is, you may want to complete The Passion Test

It starts by asking you to complete the following statement in 15 different ways: “When my life is ideal, I am ____________.” 

The word(s) you choose to fill in the blank must be an action statement.

For example, here are a few of my statements.

My life is ideal when I’m

  • Being of service to massive numbers of people.
  • My life is ideal when I’m helping people with their vision.
  • Speaking to large groups.

The test walks you through honing your 15 statements down to your top five passions in life. Then, explore your top five passions in greater detail and determine how well you are currently pursuing them in your life.

Once you complete your Passion Test, it will be easier for you to clarify your purpose in life and create action plans to turn your dreams into reality.

7. Conduct a Joy Review

When have you experienced your greatest moments of joy in life? 

For me, it was when I was a patrol leader in the Boy Scouts, an officer in my military high school, a summer camp counselor at a camp in Maine, a leader in my college fraternity, and a high school teacher. 

I also experienced my greatest moments when I was conducting workshops and training, telling jokes or stories, and when I was traveling.

By analyzing the things I loved most about these experiences, I was able to realize what I needed most in my life to experience true joy and fulfillment. 

I wanted to teach, educate, inspire and lead people (and make them laugh!) in workshops and training events that would allow me to travel all over the world. 

So that’s the life I created for myself!

You can do the same by creating a life goals list that will allow you to focus on bringing joy and fulfillment into your life. 

8. Take Time for Yourself

A successful cardiologist I was working with was struggling to identify the purpose of life for him. I asked him to look back over his life and answer the question, When have you felt most fulfilled?

He shared three periods when he felt the happiest and most fulfilled:

  • Spending time with his grandfather
  • Playing with his own grandchildren
  • Vacationing on a sailboat

When I asked him what was common to these experiences, he told me that it was the sense of freedom that he felt – which is clearly something he wasn’t feeling in his professional life!

So I asked him what he would do in the following situation: “A patient comes to you for an operation. If you operate on this patient, you will die. If you don’t operate on him, he will die. It’s him or you. What would you do?” 

He reflected quietly on this scenario for a long time, then finally said, “I would choose to live, rather than die myself. It doesn’t make sense to kill myself to save others.”

And he realized that’s exactly what he had been doing! He had denied his own happiness and fulfillment in order to save others – and the stress and unhappiness were leading him to an early grave.  

This was a huge turning point in his life. These days he still focuses on serving people, but now he knows he has the right to take care of his needs first.

9. Align Your Goals With Your Life Purpose

The best way to live your purpose is to pursue goals that are entirely in alignment with that purpose. 

I’m talking about personal as well as professional goals. You want to make sure that your words and actions – right down to your personal branding – are an expression of your purpose and are fully aligned with your values and the kind of world you want to create. 

10. Lean Into Your True Life Purpose

The good news is, when it comes to discovering the purpose of life and living your life fully in alignment with it, you don’t need to completely overhaul your life all at once. 

Instead, just lean into it.

Start living your purpose a little more each day, and pay attention to the feedback you’re receiving from others, the results you’re producing, and how you’re feeling. 

You may be surprised at the results you get – and how good it feels to be showing up in the world in a way that resonates with your values and passion!

Additional Motives of Purpose

Before getting to your homework, I wanted to give you a few more strong reasons why it’s important to find your purpose in life. 

Living your purpose makes it possible for you to: 

  • Connect with others on a deeper, more meaningful level—which boosts your health, happiness, and longevity
  • Accomplish goals that boost your confidence and expand your understanding of what you’re capable of achieving 
  • Express your emotions, opinions, and ideas with greater clarity and passion
  • Find more excitement, fun, and joy in what you do 
  • Expand your skills and knowledge in areas of study that are most important to you 
  • Receive acknowledgment for your achievements
  • Make a positive impact on the world

In short, living your purpose is what fills your existence with joy, connection, and fulfillment! 

So, What is Your Life Purpose?

Now here’s your homework: 

Close your eyes and imagine what a “perfect world” looks like to you. What does this world look like? How is everyone interacting with each other? What does it feel like? 

Once the vision is clear in your mind, open your eyes and write down your answer as a statement in the present tense. 

Then write down how you are going to use your best qualities (and how you love to express them in the world) to make that perfect world a reality – and then you will have your life purpose statement! 

Once you have written it, be sure to put it somewhere you can read and visualize it every day. 

Watch for opportunities to live your purpose and create that world wherever you are.

If you’re feeling stuck, need support envisioning your perfect world, or would like to fine-tune your life purpose, use my checklist of 21 Vision Board Ideas to Set & Achieve Goals More Effectively.

It will help you create a clear vision for the life you want to live – and what you need to achieve to make it happen!

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