Ever since I lost religion, I’ve been wondering What’s My Purpose?
(When I had religion, it was easy: my purpose was given to me by God.)
I’ve talked about this before – purpose can be something you define for yourself. Sometimes, when I think of my purpose, it seems so hollow. It doesn’t resonate with me that my purpose might be to help others, or to live with integrity, or whatever feel-good crap you might find on “Make a Mission Statement” websites.
Is it reasonable that your purpose might not be knowable to you right now? Is it possible that to find your purpose, you must dedicate yourself to exploring life for a few more months, years, or decades? (Hopefully you don’t need to wait centuries.)
Or maybe, and this might be specific to you, you don’t actually have a purpose. You’re not driven by something so grand that you aim your life towards it.
Maybe purpose isn’t one thing — maybe it’s a dozen things. Maybe I have a professional purpose and a personal purpose and a public mission and a private mission.
Or maybe my purpose is purely hedonistic – to do exactly what makes me feel the best. From a subjective view, as long as this isn’t destructive, this seems like a reasonable purpose on the small scale. This also seems like the default for organisms on Earth. (Yes, we could argue about self vs group interest and collective evolution.) On a larger scale, I bet there are enough people who live selflessly that it sort of works.
I’ve been thinking recently that maybe my life doesn’t have a purpose… but this decade might. A purpose might be something that evolves, and an individual has many sequentially over their life.
Or a purpose might be something simple. To make people laugh. To help out when I can.
I don’t know the answer — and there isn’t one.
Here are a bunch of mission statements that I’ve found in various places. Please send me more:
- Maya Angelou – My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
- Sir Richard Branson – Have fun in your journey through life and learn from your mistakes. In business, know how to be a good leader and always try to bring out the best in people. It’s very simple: listen to them, trust in them, believe in them, respect them and let them have a go!
- Stephen R Covey (7 Habits of Highly Successful People) – To inspire, lift and provide tools for change and growth of individuals and organizations throughout the world to significantly increase their performance capability in order to achieve worthwhile purposes through understanding and living principle-centered leadership.
- Ghandi – Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
I shall fear only God.
I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
I shall conquer untruth by truth.
And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.
- Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul series) –
- Awaken the possibility in every soul.
- To save lives, fortunes and futures.
- Julianne Hough (Dancing With the Stars champion) – The purpose of my life is to be an infectios light of love and joy, to celebrate the little things, and to inspire others to embrace their true essence.
- Lewis Howes (former pro athlete turned entrepreneur) – Teach 100 million people to make a full time living doing what they love because I believe if everyone is making a full time living — doesn’t have to be millions, but enough to live and have a good life — doing the things that you are most passionate about, you’re going to heal yourself from so much pain, and disease is going to be gone, and relationships are going to be better, and people are doing what they love and they feel like what they do matters and making money from what matters.
- Tony Robbins (motivational speaker) – The purpose of my life is to humbly serve our Lord by being a loving, playful, powerful and passionate example of the absolute joy that is available to us the moment that we rejoice in God’s gifts and sincerely love and enjoy all his creations.
- Oprah Winfrey – To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be. I never imagined it would be on TV. I believe there’s a calling for all of us. I know that every human being has value and purpose. The real work of our lives is to become aware. And awakened. To answer the call.
- My ultimate mission is to live a present, disciplined life, in which I take care of myself in order to achieve my larger goals.
- To live life fully, honestly, and compassionately while making a positive impact on all those around me.
- To Empower, motivate and inspire people to living happier and more fulfilled lives.
- I want to be the kind of person my dog already thinks I am.
Even more samples:
Sample Mission Statements, Vision Statements and Guiding Principles
And just for fun, a mission statement generator:
Mission Statement Generator
- Some of the sources for these are dubious, and I couldn’t track them down. I assume the originals are in the authors’ books, but I’m taking them as true as I’ve found them repeated multiple places.
- Tony Robbins, Stephen R Covey – BishopTeam
- Maya Angelou
- Sir Richard Branson
- Mark Victor Hansen, Mark Victor Hansen
- Julianne Hough
- Lewis Howes
- Oprah Winfrey