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Since the dawn of time, philosophers and common people alike have mused over the idea of a “life purpose.”
But what defines one’s life purpose? And what should yours be?
In simplest terms, a life purpose is your reason (or reasons) for getting up in the morning.
True purpose can guide your decisions.
It will influence your behavior and help you prioritize goals to make room for what really matters.
Purpose can offer a sense of direction… and create meaning. For some people, purpose is connected to a vocation- meaningful, satisfying work.
Ancient Greek classicists called it a “telos,” or the ultimate goal of life. They believed that a life purpose should be was one’s central focus on their journey through time on earth.
Modern thinkers conceptualize it as that what they were meant to do or be… what they were made for.
Whichever way you prefer to think about it, having an idea of your greater aim in life makes every day more significant and precious. It allows you to harness your energy into something bigger than just yourself.
In this article, I will provide 19 life purpose examples that may help you take one step closer to eudemonia… or “Living the Good Life”.
What You Will Learn
- Exercises to Find Your Life Purpose
- 19 Life Purpose Examples You May Draw Inspiration From
- 1. Having a Strong Sense of Family
- 2. Helping Children
- 3. Giving Back to the Community
- 4. Helping Animals
- 5. Living a Healthy Lifestyle
- 6. Prioritizing Fitness
- 7. Incorporating Music
- 8. Appreciating Art
- 9. Embracing Spirituality
- 10. Living a Happy and Ethical Life
- 11. Empowering Others
- 12. Being True to Myself
- 13. Achieving a Meaningful Career
- 14. Cultivating Healthy, Reciprocal Relationships
- 15. Reaching My Fullest and Highest Potential
- 16. Bringing Others Joy
- 17. Helping the Less Fortunate
- 18. Sharing Wisdom
- 19. Appreciating the World Around Me
- Final Thoughts on a Life Purpose
Exercises to Find Your Life Purpose
Self-inquiry and examination through good habits help you center your thoughts and really focus on what you enjoy most in your life and gives you meaning.
Everyone has different skills and talents that make them great… and taking the time to analyze what you excel at can give you further direction to what you can call your life purpose. Pro tip: you can have more than one!
Journaling what matters most to you
Creative journaling has many proven health benefits. From writing down your crazy dreams, to taking note of interesting flowers you've seen that day, it gives your left brain a chance to express itself… or your right brain time to make sense of the day.
Consistency is what is important.
If you choose a narrative approach, you give your loved ones a valuable record and tool to peer into the daily life of your family.
When you select a creative approach, such as poetry or sketching, you can get a glimpse into your subconscious and the themes of your life.
Either method works… and many of the world's most successful minds practice journaling.
You can also start using your journal as a tool to implement your life purpose. Everything from affirmations, inspiring quotes, or a daily to-do list will be able to help you navigate the waters of setting sail in the direction of your dreams.
Writing a life purpose statement
Are you feeling bold?
If so, sit down and write down a mission statement of the purpose of your life. You might be surprised what you think of!
For your first draft, don't put too much thought into it and let the feeling of what you want to most express flow through you. Be true to yourself and don't be shy; you don't have to share it if you don't want to.
Later, revise it and flesh it out. Write out a personal manifesto if you want to. Let the written word inspire you to greater things and pay attention to the most vivid details.
Don't think too much about it, either. You can have a seemingly small or narrowed down purpose, such as becoming a vegan. Or you may discover something greater, like becoming a human rights activist or uncovering a musical talent.
Take what you learn from this exercise and use it to make bigger and better choices for your life.
Find good literature or media to support your new vision, and if you are really feeling inspired, volunteer or take classes to improve.
Verbalizing to someone else what matters most
Talking about things to a compassionate listener helps our minds process what's going on in our life.
Even the process of listening to ourselves talk can help make what's going on “real” and, more importantly , give us some ideas of the right action steps to take.
Just talk about what matters.
Always wanted to get a higher degree? Was your dream to be a painter?
Find a trusted person and talk to them about it. The enormous healing properties of letting someone know your secret desires will always shed light on those corners of your life and give you hope and a different perspective.
Visualizing what is most important in their life and what may be lacking.
Looking within helps you to clarify what's important and minimize distractions.
For example, if being healthy is important to you… you might change your diet, learn new recipes, or start a daily exercise plan.
If having more fun with your community is a goal, then you might be on the lookout for opportunities to meet new people.
Visualize what your ideal life would be like, and take steps every day to achieve it!
“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Take a deep breath, light a candle, and close your eyes. Relax and think: where could my life go? What would I have? Where would I be? What would it feel like?
Now, let yourself write out what an ideal day would be like. Let your imagination go wild. Where would you vacation? What would you eat? What gifts would you buy the people you love?
You get the idea.
Now, ground yourself, and let yourself figure out a realistic way to align yourself to the life choices you could make to more embody that lifestyle.
It's easier than it sounds, and you can be amazed at all of the resources that reveal themselves to you when you're open and ready to receive or when you go out there and take action.
People from all walks of life benefit from the power of visualization. From CEOs to elementary teachers, walking yourself through the necessary steps in your mind's eye helps guide you to techniques or tools for an improved life.
It can be anything from a power color to a special spot in nature from which you draw inspiration.
19 Life Purpose Examples You May Draw Inspiration From
1. Having a Strong Sense of Family
“I will always work to do what is best for my family. Without neglecting myself, I will seek to meet their needs. I will seek to understand their insecurities, and give them the support and unconditional love to make them feel special, important, and irreplaceable.”
Around the world, “family” ranks as the top choice when selecting one’s purpose in life. It's the foundation from which people come from… and where many people return. If you feel that friends and family are priceless treasures that can never be replaced, this purpose is definitely for you.
2. Helping Children
“I want to be a positive role model for children. Whether it's with tangibles like food or clothing, or by giving emotional support… I want to give children what they need to feel wanted, loved, and secure. I want to give children what they need to be healthy, happy, and productive.”
Whether you're a parent or not, if you're passionate about helping children, there are many ways to achieve this goal. The obvious is to provide financially by giving food, clothing, and shelter. You can also give your time and support in other ways.
Helping with homework, listening when a child needs to talk, donating to children's causes, or volunteering are some examples.
3. Giving Back to the Community
“I want to contribute something to my community that will leave it better than it was before my contribution. I want to show others that connecting with your community is important and vital.”
Communities don't exist without individuals, and individuals cannot exist without being a part of some type of a community. We are interdependent beings. If you have a sense of appreciation for the significance of community, there are many ways to meet this purpose.
You can enhance it aesthetically, or participate in other activities. You may want to take a more interpersonal approach, like being a mentor or helping a neighbor.
4. Helping Animals
“All creatures deserve to be treated with kindness. I want to show compassion to animals through caring acts that help protect them and help them survive.”
It’s no coincidence that veganism and vegetarianism grow in popularity every year. Whether it's by aligning yourself with groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), or adopting a pet, you, too, can contribute to ensuring animals are treated humanely.
5. Living a Healthy Lifestyle
“I will prioritize taking care of myself by putting my health first. I will take care of my physical and mental health needs by being mindful of what I put in my body, and focusing on my emotional and mental well-being. Self-care activities will be a part of my regular routine.”
Self-care is one of the essential ways that health can become part of a life's purpose. In order to meet any other goals in life, you must first be in good mental and physical health.
6. Prioritizing Fitness
“I will feed the inside and outside of my body with the nourishment it needs. The right food is an obvious necessity, but I will also make sure I feed it physical exercise, and prioritize being physically fit.”
Fitness goes hand in hand with living a healthy life. It may be for medical reasons, or your aim may be to achieve a certain physical appearance or build strength. This life purpose is for you if you're passionate about the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of exercise.
7. Incorporating Music
“I will make music an integral part of my life. I will use it as a source of healing and enjoyment. I will also use it as a way to connect with others, and to connect more deeply with myself.”
If you feel drawn to music, incorporating it into your life more will give many emotional benefits.
In every culture, music seems to be the thread that binds people. Whether you're a musician, a dancer, or simply someone who loves to listen… there is so much meaning and purpose that can be gleaned from music.
8. Appreciating Art
“I will appreciate the beauty of art. I will find ways to include it in my life, by being both a spectator and finding ways to explore my own artistic talents.”
Art has many forms and expressions, and whichever one you feel “drawn” to is totally up to you and entirely beautiful. Many people have amazing latent artistic gifts that they go their whole lives regretting not having explored further.
You can take advantage of adult learning or community college opportunities to enhance your artistic skills.
9. Embracing Spirituality
“I will be a spiritual person and connect to something higher than myself. I will concern myself with being the best person I can be for myself and others. I will be guided by thoughts and actions that are kind and in my best interest, and the best interest of others.”
Being spiritual can be a powerful way to embrace a larger identity and life purpose. If your focus is to grow and develop to be the best person you can be, and live a life where you show compassion to others, this mantra is ideal.
10. Living a Happy and Ethical Life
“I will first and foremost do what it takes to make myself happy. With this continued state of being, I will be able to treat others in a respectful and kind way. My happiness will lead to actions that are just, fair, and ethical for others.”
We've probably all heard the saying, “Hurt people hurt people.” It would then follow that we can say the opposite is also true. If you're in a state of contentment, you'll give off a sense of peace that will positively affect others.
This statement probably hits home for you if you're someone who's mindful about existing in the here-and-now. It's definitely for you if you're self-aware and value the multitude of health benefits from having a harmonious emotional and spiritual state.
11. Empowering Others
“My life purpose is to help others see their own power and strength. I want to make each person I encounter feel better about themselves and have an added sense of self-efficacy and self-confidence.”
Here's a statement that takes infecting others with happiness and peace to a different level. The drive to empower others is ideal for someone who loves interacting with people. It requires being able to see the positives and helping individuals identify their strengths.
12. Being True to Myself
“I want to live a life where I present to myself and others my authentic self. I want to maintain my true self while being genuine and sincere in all of my relationships and interactions with others.”
If you are someone who values your individualism, this example falls right in line. Being true to yourself may include maintaining your own unique fashion sense, dietary choices, or spiritual beliefs.
It can be more interpersonal, where you value remaining true to another purpose you have in life, no matter what others think or say. For example, you may want to stay true to living a life as a starving artist, rather than conform to the American standard of climbing your way up the corporate ladder.
Or, it may mean holding onto independent thinking that sets you a part from the rest, and not changing your opinions or methods of expression to please others or to fit in.
At any rate, being your authentic self in all areas of life helps to achieve a healthy mental and emotional state.
13. Achieving a Meaningful Career
“I will continuously pour into myself the tools needed to be the best at what I do. I want to have a career that improves the life of others and society in some way.”
Many people choose careers based on their skills, passions, or natural talents. This purpose can help you decide what career to pursue and, therefore, what actions you need to follow to achieve it.
It can help you determine if you need to pursue a higher degree, what region you may need to live in, and even give you a realistic picture of what your income may be. For example, if you're on the fence about whether to become a social worker or a marketing executive, you may decide that a social worker better meets the task of improving lives.
14. Cultivating Healthy, Reciprocal Relationships
“I will treat others as I want to be treated. I will make sure I give as much as I receive. I will communicate with others to understand and give them what they need, instead of going off of my assumptions of their needs, so that I am truly treating them in a manner that makes them feel important and respected.”
Any time you're having multiple interactions with someone, you're having a relationship. Whether it's close friends, relatives, or co-workers, interactions with others that are built on respect and mutual give-and-take are the most productive and healthiest.
If you appreciate the value of relationships and the positive rippling effects they can have on all aspects of life, this statement may speak to you.
15. Reaching My Fullest and Highest Potential
“Realizing self-actualization means reaching your fullest and highest potential. I will use self-reflection to understand my thoughts, behaviors, patterns, talents, and skills. I will also identify my growth areas (I will not call them weaknesses). I will seek to educate myself and increase my knowledge through research, and by engaging in meaningful discussions with others who hold different viewpoints than my own. I will use all of these avenues to improve all aspects of who I am.”
If you are dedicated to self-growth and self-development, this example does a great job of summarizing many of the components necessary to accomplish a higher state of self.
You may have more than one purpose. This one goes hand-in-hand with “Being True to Myself.” To accomplish both, you must be ready to accept the self-discovery that comes from honest self-reflection. Achieving self-actualization also requires accepting the actions or changes you find you need to make as a result of those self-discoveries.
16. Bringing Others Joy
“Simply put, I want to make others laugh. Laughter is healing. I want to give people the good feelings, relief, and connection that comes with sharing a good laugh together. Even when there's sadness, laughter can provide a glimpse of hope and joy. I want to provide the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Some purpose statements are more serious, some will take a little work, and others will take a concerted amount of time to achieve. This one is just pure fun.
If connecting with others and enjoying life are what gets you out of bed in the mornings, this example is the perfect fit. We can choose happiness, and help others to choose it, too.
17. Helping the Less Fortunate
“I will help someone who is hurting or going without. I will give my assistance in some way to help someone else gain what they are missing, to help them have a better quality of life.”
This is for the altruistic. Helping the less fortunate takes the life purpose of contributing to the community to the next level, by getting a little more specific. It requires you to identify or consider a type of person or group of people, and the resources they need.
18. Sharing Wisdom
“As I learn and grow from my experiences, I want to share that wisdom with others.”
This example is great for teachers, religious leaders, mentors, or anyone who enjoys articulating the lessons of their failures, successes, and life journey. Knowledge is priceless. Because everyone's experiences are different, we all have a little bit of knowledge we could share with someone else.
19. Appreciating the World Around Me
“I will embrace nature and all of its wonders. I will take the time to enjoy what cannot be bought and sold, but what gives us its beauty and utility every second of every day, unconditionally. I will appreciate the small things, and do my part to preserve the natural reserves that make life possible.”
If you enjoy nature and the simpler things in life, and see the environment as something that needs protecting, this may resonate with you. It incorporates both appreciation and action. Like some of the others, this purpose statement is also integral to mindfulness. There's an indirect sense of benevolence, too. Without the beauty and necessities of nature — like water, land to grow fruit and vegetables, and the many valuable things that only an ecosystem left intact can provide — human life cannot exist.
Final Thoughts on a Life Purpose
No two people have the exact same life purpose… even if they value the same things, like family, they may share different visions of how that life looks.
You can use this list of 19 life purpose examples as a springboard to launch your own journey towards finding your “why.”
While these are some of the most common themes that bring meaning to many people, that isn’t to say they are your true purpose.
Which ones stand out most to you?
Has a lightbulb of inspiration appeared over your head?
Have you thought about an interest or passion that could further enrich your life?
If so… follow that fire! Don’t let it burn out!
When you take the right steps, you can make big changes with daily choices in the right direction. With these life purpose examples, you can be well on your way to developing a life you're truly proud of.
Finally, if you want to increase your happiness and life satisfaction, then watch this free video that details the 7-minute habit for planning your day to focus on what's important.