chisel hand 300x300Having a Personal Purpose Statement is the best way to make sure your life, work, and the ways you spend your time are aligned with that Purpose.


In Part 1 and Part 2 of this “Purpose” series, I discussed how satisfied and fulfilled we feel when we’re “on Purpose”. In this third and final part, I’ll discuss how you can uncover your Personal Purpose and create your own Purpose Statement.


Most people are familiar with a mission statement, most typically for a company or an organization. But some people craft their own personal mission statement. So, is there a difference between a personal mission statement and a Personal Purpose statement?


What’s the difference between a Purpose Statement and a mission statement?

Well, they’re similar in construction and how they sound.  However, a principal distinction is that a mission statement can and should change to reflect new goals, new directions you want to head in, while a Purpose Statement is meant to represent all that is constant and valuable in you, regardless of the circumstances, so it won’t change very much, if at all.


Another important distinction, and possibly a more helpful one, is that a mission statement tries to capture what you would like to become, and a Purpose Statement captures what you already are at your truest and most basic. This means that mission tends to involve a lot of striving and achieving, and purpose involves a lot of allowing and getting out of your own way.


Start by recalling experiences where you’ve felt fulfilled and satisfied

So how do you uncover your Purpose? You start by recalling situations, actual experiences you’ve had in your life, where you’ve felt “in the flow”, fulfilled, and satisfied. When things came easily. It could be a period of your life, or a moment. It could be something like “the two years after college”, or it could be a 30-second conversation you had with someone while paying for groceries. It could be a particular job you had. Or a trip you took somewhere. The common denominator is that you felt very fulfilled and satisfied at the time.


When I’m helping a coaching client discover their Purpose, I ask them to recall details of the situation in which they felt fulfilled and satisfied. I also ask them how it felt to be in that situation (and I’m hoping for descriptive terms, something more than “pretty good”), and what specific value they got from it. I write all of that down.


Some themes recur and some words repeat—the important ones

After anywhere from 5 to 10 stories, I have a stack of papers of handwritten notes, which I read back to the client. As I do, we both start to see patterns. But even if you don’t do this with a coach, you’ll notice that some themes start recurring, some words get repeated. The important ones. The ones that need to be in the Purpose Statement


Once you arrive at a short list of the most important themes and words, it’s time to start crafting the Statement.


What are elements of a good Purpose Statement?

  • it resonates with you and “rings” true
  • it’s one sentence
  • it’s in the present tense
  • it’s broad, not just about career, or family, or spirituality
  • it’s stated positively (not using words that represent what you don’t want)
  • all elements of it are within your control
  • expresses a connection to self and others

These elements notwithstanding, there are no absolutes here. If you come up with something that rings true and represents key elements that facilitate your feeling fulfilled and satisfied, that’s it!


Want to know my Purpose?

My Purpose is “to travel my unique path, engaging in creative and meaningful experiences, while using my talents to help others along the way.


I chose to include all the elements in this statement, including travel (my life as a journey), uniqueness of what I have to offer, creativity, meaning, helping people—all of which are important to me and have contributed to my feeling satisfied and fulfilled in my life.


Once you craft your Purpose Statement, sit with it for awhile

So, once you’ve crafted your statement, sit with it for a little while. Commit it to memory. Write it or print it on a piece of paper and carry it with you for a few days. Then put it away for another few days and see if it still rings true when you pick it back up.


I’ve found that knowing and being mindful of my Purpose has been extremely useful in making important life choices. Knowing your Purpose doesn’t tie your hands in any way. You can still choose to do whatever you want. In my case, I’ve chosen to do things that are aligned with my Purpose, and I’m happier for it.



Have you explored your Purpose, through this methodology or some other? I’d love to hear about it.


If you’d like help in exploring your Purpose, let me know. I’d love to help.