“You did that on purpose!” I can hear myself screaming this at my brother as a kid. You know how the argument goes – “Your arm is bumping mine. You’re doing that on purpose!” “I am not.” “Are too!”, etc. Doing something “on purpose” means that there was intent in the action or a determination to cause a specific outcome or a goal.
While arguments and accusations often include this line, how many times have you celebrated something you did “on purpose?” Do you know what being “on purpose” in your life looks like?
To truly live a fulfilling life, it is helpful to have a statement that describes your purpose. You might call this your life purpose or your personal mission statement. Developing a life purpose is a way of clarifying what you want to be about in life. Ultimately, a life purpose provides a compass for your behaviors, choices and words.
Much like a company mission statement or vision, your life purpose describes your intent and reflects your values, your talents and skills, and your interests. As you develop your own “on purpose” statement, consider the following questions. It helps to write your thoughts down so you don’t forget anything as you go through this process.
1. What are your personal values? One way to clarify your values is to consider what you are doing when you feel the most plugged in and alive.
2. How do you want people to remember you? The traits, accomplishments, skills and relationships that are identified here likely describe you living “on purpose.”
3. What activities or interests bring you the most joy? What is important about these activities to you?
4. If you were giving a speech to a large crowd of people, what would you most want to communicate? The answer to this question will be a hint as to what’s important to you and what you want to convey with your life.
5. What do you think living “on purpose” looks like for you? As with all of these questions, don’t edit yourself as you consider this question.
Once you have answered these or similar questions, review your answers for themes. What is really important here? Why is it important? If you lived your life this way, what would the outcome be? Who or what would be impacted? What would it mean to live this way “on purpose”?
Having culled your brainstorm down to some key themes, you are ready to create your life purpose. I suggest you keep it to one or two sentences that have power and meaning for you. You may choose this simple format:
My purpose is __________________________________________.
Your life purpose should be something you turn to regularly for direction, validation and inspiration. With this statement as your guide, when someone says “you did that on purpose!” you can respond with an enthusiastic “you’re right, I did!”