There will often be days where we ask ourselves, “What are we really doing?” What’s our purpose? For whom are we truly dedicating our efforts?
We could all use a little direction in our lives: a nudge that tells us where to go.
That’s what makes life purpose statements so powerful. It’s a guide that gives our work and days clarity.
When we get carried away by the petty drama and self-sabotaging mindsets, it’s the life purpose statement that returns us to our true path in life.
Life purpose statements are deeply personal; no two are the same. They can also be as simple or comprehensive as you like; there’s no wrong answer here.
If you haven’t made yours, here are 12 examples to get you started giving your life direction.
1. “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.”
In Mississippi in 1954, there was a young black girl that was churning butter on a small back porch, while her grandmother was boiling clothes in the backyard.
At that time, there weren’t many opportunities for black women in Mississippi that didn’t involve domestic work.
So her grandmother called to her, “Oprah Gail, you better watch me now, ’cause one day you gon’ have to know how to do this for yourself.”
That was the day Oprah Winfrey decided that she wanted to be a teacher.
The talk show icon knew that she didn’t want to fall into whatever society believed that she should be.
She wanted to inspire others and show them that they didn’t have to either.
She didn’t even know how to do it. “I never imagined it would be on TV”, Oprah later said.
But now TV wouldn’t have been the same without her.
2. “To speak out against injustices and to give a voice to those who cannot speak.”
Think Martin Luther King Jr. speaking out for the African American community, or Malala Yousafzai advocating for women’s rights for education.
It’s an unfortunate reality that there are people who aren’t given the same opportunities in life as others.
So you want to be the voice for the voiceless. Whether it be politics, journalism, or literature, you feel that equality and justice are causes worth dedicating your life to.
3. “To share the blessings I have — either big or small — with the people that have not been as fortunate as I have been”
When you drive past run-down houses and homeless people squatting in the streets, you can’t help but feel an urge to help them; you feel a deep connection with them.
You don’t have to be a millionaire to be kind to your fellow person.
It’s about playing your part in your community and helping people get back on their feet and enjoy living life.
Your blessings could also be marketing skills you’ve learned in school to help raise funds to build a school, or your simple willingness to learn to take better care of people.
Any contribution counts when it’s towards helping the community.
4. “To change the way people see the world through my art”
In the film Dead Poets Society, English teacher John Keating (played by Robin Williams) confides in his students,
“Medicine, law, business, engineering — these are noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love. These are what we stay alive for.”
In every artist, there is a calling to create something truly meaningful to others.
As an artist, you have a gift: you can both see the world in a special way, and you have the energy within you to share it with others.
It can be through a novel, a painting, a sketch, an essay, a song — any form of expression.
You can’t see yourself going through the drudgery of corporate life nor the complicated world of politics.
5. “To give others the chance to be seen, to be heard, and to share their stories”
Sometimes, listening to others is enough.
Everyone wants to be seen and heard. We all have a story to tell and to show the world. It’s what connects us as humans.
As someone who is fascinated by the stories that people share, you’ve made it your mission to give them a platform to tell others who they are, or who they were.
You could be a photographer, videographer, or even build a safe space for people to be who they are.
In your eyes, everyone deserves to be remembered in one way or another.
6. “To do my part in taking care of our precious planet”
Excessive plastic waste, animal cruelty, and climate change.
When you think about these issues, you can’t help but feel a sense of responsibility for the world — you are a resident of it, after all.
Think Greta Thunberg, the young advocate that motivated the world to take climate change a little more seriously.
You want to preserve the beauty of the planet and the life that lives on it.
7. “To set an example for others that they can reach their dreams too”
There is a Japanese concept called “Ikigai”. It’s the intersection of what you’re good at, what you love, what you can get paid for, and what the world needs.
It’s at this intersection where the Japanese believe that one’s true purpose lies. It doesn’t have to be anything grand.
You can begin by identifying what exactly it is that you get out of bed in the morning.
It can be for your children, your art, your spouse, or your job.
8. “To explore the world and share its beauty with those who can’t”
Traveling the world is a common dream for people.
They want to experience authentic Asian cuisine, visit the pyramids of Egypt, see a live show on Broadway in New York and see the Eiffel Tower.
Some, however, are unable to do that, whether it be financial concerns or family responsibilities.
But if you can, you can use it to add direction to your life.
Put a spotlight on the places that aren’t talked about as much.
See the beauty that that earth has and tell the stories of how it made you feel.
There’s an infinite amount of wonder out there, and you’re doing your part to share it with others.
9. “To leave a lasting positive impact on the people around me”
To simply be a Good person to the people around you is enough to live a meaningful life.
There is a quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson that you may find helpful in crafting your own life purpose statement:
“What is success? To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate the beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch Or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”
10. “To impart wisdom and knowledge to my children so that they may be better people than we could’ve ever been”
A parent’s job is not only to care for their child but also to educate and encourage them to live a fulfilling life.
Every child could be the next world leader, activist, or world-renowned artist.
As a parent yourself, you aim to nurture your child to grow into an honorable and passionate person.
11. “To not let the opinions of others hold me back from living my true self”
Some dreams aren’t the most easily accepted, especially by those closest to us.
We may want to leave our journey in the medical field to pursue a career in the arts. Or have to conform to society’s standards of sexuality.
You realize that to live in such a way is only living half a life.
When crafting your life purpose statement, you vow to be your true self.
No more having to show up at a company that you despise.
No more pretending to be someone who you know you aren’t.
It isn’t selfish. It’s about being honest.
12. “To not be worried about the future nor regretful about the past; to be grateful for every second of life and live in the moment”
It’s easy to get caught up in regretting the past or daydreaming about the future.
We might have had a bad breakup or are worried about the state of the world in a few years.
Letting your mind drift to such untouchable places distracts you from the most precious experience that you have: living in the moment.
When you become mindful of your time, you allow yourself to soak in the world. You allow yourself to live.
We aren’t here for long, so you want to simply enjoy your time.
Call it a mantra or a personal mission statement.
Whatever it may be, the most important thing is that it comes from you. It’s your life after all. What do you want to do with it?
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