What is your life purpose?

Boris Joaquin

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What is your life purpose?
Defining how you would like to be remembered after your death provides a compelling compass to guide your everyday decisions and actions

Whenever spurred on to think about our purpose, we often think about how we would like others to remember us. What would you want written in your obituary? 

Alfred Nobel is best known for the Nobel Peace Prize. But did you know that this is not what he was originally known for? When Alfred’s brother died, a French newspaper thought they were writing an obituary for Alfred himself. “The Merchant of Death is Dead!” it read. Appalled that he would be remembered for the destruction associated with his most famous invention – dynamite – Alfred then purposed in his heart to use his wealth to alter his legacy toward peace.

He decided that, posthumously, his wealth would be donated to endow efforts that would have made the most benefit to mankind. Today, Alfred Nobel’s name is more often associated with peace, rather than destruction.

How would you like to be remembered? 

Defining how you would like to be remembered after your death provides a compelling compass to guide your everyday decisions and actions. You need to be able to project the impact and contribution you would like to make in the world. That would be your legacy – the impact you would have had on this world. 

Purpose is powerful

Your legacy is defined by your sense of purpose. Your destination – where you are going – is defined by your purpose. If you lived according to your purpose, what would happen? What difference would you make in the world? 

Regardless of what we do in our lives, our driving purpose remains constant. What we do is simply the tangible way we breathe life into that cause. 

This is where values are important. Your values – non-negotiable priorities in life that guide your direction, your decisions, your behavior and your character – are what you stand for. They help define your purpose. Before seeking to influence the thinking and behavior of others, it is important to have a conviction about your own personal values. What values guide your sense of purpose? 

When you are clear on what you are doing, where you are headed, and why, this gives your leadership a specific point of view that defines your role and relationship with those you seek to influence. A clearly defined, value-based purpose creates a following of people who act, not because they were swayed, but because they were inspired by a sense of purpose or belonging. Supporters, voters, customers, partners, and workers are inspired to act for the good of the whole because they want to, not because they have to. 

But influence begins within.

Great leaders need to personally have compelling purposes in their lives for which they are even willing to pay a premium or endure inconvenience, even personal suffering, just to reach their goals. 

A CEO once told me that at the start of the year, they ask their people to go on a paid personal retreat and rediscover their purpose in life. He said 60% of the time, people come back re-energized and passionate to move further.

Twenty percent of them would like to have a talk, mostly so that they can take on another challenge or be moved to another job post or department.

The rest? More often than not, they resign.

That may sound sad, but the truth is – at least for that CEO – it is better to lose good people who are not aligned with the organization’s purpose. Otherwise, they will end up doing a mediocre job at their post and live less than inspired lives.

People whose personal life purpose are aligned with the purpose of their job love going to work. They are more productive and creative. They go home happier and have happier families. They treat their colleagues, clients, and customers better. Purpose-driven employees make for stronger companies and stronger economies. That’s why we want the people of our organization to discover their purpose. 

We just had our business kickoff, when we help our people review and recalibrate their goals to align with the organization’s vision and mission, and get everybody pumped up for the year’s targets. It is crucial to remind people first of the corporate vision before we hit them with targets and quotas. It enables everyone That’s why we want the people of our organization to discover their purpose. 

That’s why we want the people of our organization to discover their purpose to answer the question, “Why are we doing what we are doing?” 

This year, however, we changed things up a little: we first asked everyone in our organization what their personal vision statements are. Truth be told, many had no idea what their personal purpose is. And when they did, they were not sure whether it was compelling enough to build their lives around. 

So we requested all our staff to reflect and create their own purpose statements. We went through a process so simple that anyone would be able to write their personal purpose statement without hesitation. 

Let me share these three-step process with you in the hope that this would help you identify yours:

First, think about two or three personal strengths that describe you and that you feel good about. Are you a mechanical genius? Do you have a good sense of humor? Do you have sales ability? I picked for myself energy and people skills – two obvious strengths that I have whether I am teaching or working with other people. How about you? What are your strengths? Write these nouns down. 

Second, identify some verbs that tell how you effectively influence other people. List ways you successfully interact with people. Do you encourage rather than tell, manage more than motivate? Since I am a teacher by heart, I chose the verbs teach and motivate to describe how I influence others.
Finally, visualize your perfect world. This is your vision for the future. It tells you what purpose you are working toward to help see happen.

It should answer these questions: “What will the future look like if things are running as planned?” “What are the people saying and/ or doing?” Now, complete the sentence, “My perfect world is…” In my case, my perfect world is when people know their life destinations and enjoy their life journeys. What’s yours?

Now, it’s time to write your purpose statement. Combine your two to three nouns with your two verbs and your description of your perfect world.

Here’s mine, following those steps:

My life purpose is to use my energy and people skills to teach and motivate people to know their life destinations and enjoy their life journeys. 

What’s your purpose statement? Who do you want to be in the world? –


Boris Joaquin is a corporate trainer, executive coach and consultant. He is the founder of Project Purpose Philippines, co-founder of Breakthrough Leadership Management Consultancy which carries Salt and Light Ventures, and is an Investors in People specialist. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @borisjoaquin.

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