How to find your purpose in life

Bullseye target with darts

Knowing our purpose can help us to succeed in times of change.

Living in line with that purpose will bring us focus and energy and can even alter our genes so we stay healthier and live longer.

So how can we find out what our purpose is?

The best way I know to uncover our life’s purpose is to follow these four steps. They are adapted from Jack Canfield®’s Life Purpose Exercise, which he adapted from Arnold M. Patent’s book, You Can Have It All.

To begin, first answer these three questions:

  1. What are your two best qualities?
    What are the two best qualities you bring to the world? Not skills or knowledge but qualities.
    If you find it difficult to pick just two, ask some trusted friends. Listen to their answers, ignore what you don’t like, and keep what you do. Then pick the two qualities that best describe you: qualities you love to express and which summarise the essence of who you are.
  2. Say how you love expressing those qualities
    Next, ask yourself how you most love putting those qualities into practice? How do you most enjoy expressing them? What outcomes are you trying to create when you do this?
  3. Describe your ideal world
    What would the world be like if it were perfect, according to you? What would you see, hear, feel, taste, or smell? What kind of a world is that? What is a perfect world for you?


Once you have defined these things, defining your purpose becomes relatively easy:

The purpose of your life is to express your best qualities, in the ways you most love doing, to create your ideal world. 

Your purpose is to express the unique person who you are, to create what matters most to you.

Of course, there might be a thousand different ways you could put this into practice — there is no single ‘right answer’. So it makes sense to start from the best understanding you have now, put that into practice, see what you learn, and then adapt as you move forward.

To summarise your best understanding of your purpose today, combine your three answers in a way that works for you, for example:

— “My life purpose is to create [my ideal world] by using my [two best qualities], [in the way you love expressing them],”

— “The purpose of my life is to use my [best qualities] to [do the thing that is the way you love expressing them], in order to create [your ideal world]”

Play with this wording until you find a version that feels right for now.


Then you might like ask yourself:

  • What parts of your life are you living most in line with your purpose today?
  • Is it true that these are the times when you feel happiest, most fulfilled, most energised?
  • Where in your life today are you are living least in line with your purpose?
  • Is this where you feel least fulfilled?
  • What small changes could you easily make now, to spend more time living in line with your purpose, and so increase your energy?
  • What bigger changes might you start to think about later?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

The book contains other tools that will help deepen your insights but this is the essence of the exercise.

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Photo By Emilio Küffer via

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