December 10

Discovering Purpose – Part Two

7 Minute Read

Discovering Purpose Part One

Evan Carmichael has a show called; Live Your Life on Purpose. Evan believes (as I do) that we all have untapped human potential, and we will never be happy unless we know our purpose. Happiness means a lot of different things to people but for our purposes, lets agree fulfillment is a better word to use than happiness.

It might be interesting to you to know there are three big categories that you will need to discover to feel like you are living on purpose and becoming fulfilled. Evan suggests identifying these three things:

  1. Your “who” or the core value that is most important to you – the “rock” or the one word
  2. Your “why” or purpose; it comes from a painful time in your life and it is related to the thing you don’t want others to experience, so you do everything you can so that they don’t have to suffer the same way you did.
  3. Your “how” or what you can do that allows you to do your “why” – you must love the work, love the process of what you do. Evan suggests one way to discover your “how” is to make a list of all the ways you have helped others in the past; specifically what you have done to serve the people you’re trying to serve and solve their problems.

I realize these three things may create a little anxiety. Some people have no idea what their core value is, or how they have done to serve others or how they could use some suffering to develop a purpose. The best thing to do is not to feel anxious about what you do not know. There is no usefulness to becoming anxious about the process of discovering your purpose. Those who are patient and willing to let their purpose unfold will have more satisfaction in the process. Trust your purpose will be given to you. 


Self-awareness is a huge enabler to discovering your purpose. Therefore, start thinking about your thinking. What voice are you listening to: the positive one or the negative one? We all have both voices, but which one is the loudest and the one who speaks the most? Start your journey of discovering your purpose with becoming more aware of your self-talk. And if you find, Mr. Negative has the stage, it might be a good time to try to understand why that is the case. If your negative voice always speaks first, why is that?

If we do not believe we can have a better life, a life filled with purpose and passion, it will not happen. When you were a child you had expectations that you could do anything, and life could be fulfilling. Go back to that time and feel the same sensation again.

Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”. If you are stuck in a rut, the first thing that needs to happen is to learn to see things differently. Your mind can be taught to think differently, and your old ‘tapes’ can be changed. Do you really want to have purpose? Yes! Do you believe you can discover it? Yes!

Serve Others

Another good foundation for discovering your purpose comes from Jay Shetty, the ‘urban monk’. Jay’s story begins with his observation about his older friends who had achieved a lot of success early on in their life but were not fulfilled and happy. I like a lot of what Jay writes and one of his suggestions to live a life on purpose is to start serving others and, secondly to utilize what you are good at to serve others.

Making a difference by serving others in some capacity is at the center of purpose. Purpose is always outwardly focused. Experimenting with different forms of service, is something everyone should do. Ghandi said something like; you find yourself when you lose yourself in the service of others.

The other idea I picked up from Jay is to open yourself to new people and experiences. He suggests doing things like shadowing, networking, and observing others. When we see new things, people, and experiences, it can waken up the sleeping giant inside of us. Even if you do not like and cannot relate to any of the new things, people, and experiences, you will learn what you do like and where you find fulfillment.

Identify A Reason for Being

Have you ever heard about the “ikigai model”? It is used to help people get started toward discovering their passion. In its most basic form, the model suggests for one to have a “reason for being” (definition of ikigai) should unlock their passion to find their purpose. To use the ikigai model, you would answer:

  1. What am I good at?
  2. What do I love?
  3. What does the world need?
  4. How do I get paid for it?

What you love and are good at is your ‘passion’. What you love but are not good at is your ‘potential’. What you do not love but are good at, is often what ‘pays the bills’. What you do not love and are not good at are often are ‘daily tasks’.

We spend most of our life working to pay the bills. The goal is to shift our time and energy to use the latent potential that exists in all of us. Potential ignited by passion leads us often away from working to survive. It may require us to learn new skills, but learning is a source of energy and can be fun. If your purpose may require some ‘retooling’, remember that hard work, persistence, in the pursuit of something we love brings out the best in us.

Possible Concerns

1.) “I’m too young to know what my purpose is”. I think this is a legitimate concern. When you are just starting a career, and you are in your first job and you do not know exactly what your strengths are, and it is hard to discover your purpose.

Having a clear knowledge about your strengths and passions is important. Most people new to the workforce are just trying to learn how to do a job. It is not a good time to determine your life’s purpose. This is not true for all young people. Those who have self-awareness and can answer questions like; ‘what are you passionate about’, ‘what are you good at’, ‘what gets you excited in the morning’, will be able to identify their purpose.

If you are someone who has been working for 10+ years, life has given you many successes and failures. You know what turns you on and what turns you off. You have already had 2 or 3 or more jobs (and maybe companies) and you know what you love. You may not know how to do what you love or what your life’s purpose is, but you have enough depth of experience to start to identify your life’s purpose.

2.)I’m just trying to get through today. All I can think about is getting out of this situation.”

If you are trying to provide for yourself or your family, Maslow would say you are the bottom of the hierarchy of needs (seeking physical needs satisfaction & security). Your primary and perhaps sole focus is to satisfy your physical and security needs.

Perhaps the only time you feel purpose is when you help others – parents or family members in significant ways. Purpose is always about others and being outwardly focused on the needs of other people. So, when you are just getting started, sometimes your focus might be to provide the necessities for your life and you could start to discover your purpose by serving people to make their lives better.

3.) “I don’t think I will ever find a sense of purpose. I have tried before but was not successful.”

Not everyone can find a job that will bring them a sense of satisfaction, but everyone can find purpose in some of their work. If you cannot find purpose in your work, you might try looking at your work differently. Your purpose may not change the world, but everyone can find some sense of fulfillment. The stonemason story has been told by a lot of different people, but I like Simon Sinek’s version that he writes about in his bestselling book called Start with Why. It is worth reading again if you have heard it before:

“Consider the story of two stonemasons. You walk up to the first stonemason and ask, “Do you like your job?” He looks up at you and replies, “I’ve been building this wall for as long as I can remember. The work is monotonous. I work in the scorching hot sun all day. The stones are heavy and lifting them day after day can be backbreaking. I am not even sure if this project will be completed in my lifetime. But it is a job. It pays the bills.” You thank him for his time and walk on.

About thirty feet away, you walk up to a second stonemason. You ask him the same question, “Do you like your job?” He looks up and replies, “I love my job. I am building a cathedral. Sure, I have been working on this wall for as long as I can remember, and yes, the work is sometimes monotonous. I work in the scorching hot sun all day. The stones are heavy and lifting them day after day can be backbreaking. I am not even sure if this project will be completed in my lifetime. But I’m building a cathedral.”

WHAT these two stonemasons are doing is exactly the same; the difference is, one has a sense of purpose. He feels like he belongs. He comes to work to be a part of something bigger than the job he is doing. Simply having a sense of WHY changes his entire view of his job. It makes him more productive and certainly more loyal. Whereas the first stonemason would probably take another job for more pay, the inspired stonemason works longer hours and would probably turn down an easier, higher-paying job to stay and be a part of the higher cause. The second stonemason does not see himself as any more or less important than the guy making the stained-glass windows or even the architect. They are all working together to build the cathedral. It is this bond that creates camaraderie. And that camaraderie and trust is what brings success. People working together for a common cause.”

4.) “My family is my purpose.”

A personal purpose that might be something like; my purpose is to provide for and help them have a better life than I had.Overall, it somewhat fits the purpose evaluation: it’s outwardly focused and it can bring a sense of satisfaction. It might even empower you to do things that might be difficult to do like working long hours and being in a job that you do not like. So, it does meet the general sense of purpose. However, it is probably not a purpose that is going to allow you to do your life’s work.

Ideal forms of purpose allow you to use your unique skills and abilities. Because we put most of our time and energy into our work, we need something much greater than just providing for someone else as our source of purpose. Ideally, if you identify a purpose that taps into your unique skill sets and abilities and your heart’s desire, you will find a greater sense of purpose.

I asked a good friend of mine what his purpose was. His first response was: “my purpose is to get my children into heaven”. I said: “wow that’s awesome! But what about from a professional standpoint, what’s your purpose?” Long pause, and then he said: “I’m not sure, I think it’s to help the company and our people succeed”. His family was more important than his business (even though he is a business owner). From my perspective, he lives his life consistent with his purpose and it is a beautiful thing.

Five Questions

  1. Why might your limiting beliefs about finding your purpose keep you from finding it?
    1. Your beliefs dictate what you see
    2. If you can’t see a way to discover your purpose, you won’t find it
    3. It’s hard to be outwardly focused to make a difference, when you are negative
    4. Purpose is discovered when we are positive
    5. All the above
  1. Why is self-awareness so important to the process of discovering your purpose?
    1. It’s not that important
    2. You can’t find a purpose if you don’t know what you are passionate about
    3. You can’t find a purpose if you don’t know what your good at
    4. Purpose is personal – you need to know what you value
    5. B, C & D
  1. Why is serving others important to purpose?
    1. Purpose is a way to help others
    2. Purpose motivates and fulfills because it makes the world a better place
    3. Purpose put others before yourself
    4. Purpose is about your success
    5. A, B, C
  1. What is the ikigai model?
    1. A way to define your passion
    2. A process of meditation
    3. Has been used for thousands of years
    4. Answers: What you are good at? What you love? What the world needs? & How you get paid for it?
    5. A & D
  1. What does the story about the stone masons mean?
    1. Don’t work in a trade if you want to be happy
    2. Stone masons don’t agree on what they are doing
    3. Some jobs only half the people like doing
    4. Authors recycle stories
    5. Your meaning can be found in whatever you are doing

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