In Life Purpose: Defining Yours Is Important, the first article in the series, I provided reasons why we should define our life’s purpose, and in Life Purpose: How to Define Yours, I outlined a process to help you craft a life-purpose statement. In this article, we are going to put it all together by exploring ways to determine how you can take your life’s purpose and turn it into action.
Before we begin, I want to take a moment to discuss procrastination. If you are like me, you get bored with the day-to-day grind that it takes to accomplish a significant task or a goal. For me, it is part of my inherent personality. I am a strategist. I like to plan, but the daily work it takes to implement those plans can be a struggle. Fortunately, I stumbled across an article, Procrastination: A Scientific Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating, written by James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. In the article, he outlines techniques that I have found useful to get things done. If you have the same challenge, I hope James’ article helps you as much as it has me. Because getting things done will be necessary for pursuing your life’s purpose.
This post will follow In the same fashion as in Life Purpose: How to Define Yours, I will be organizing the steps I took to arrive at the method I used to implement my life’s purpose. Again, it took me several years to find my course, so I hope by outlining the steps I took, it saves you time.
Let’s jump into it by defining potential careers first.
1st – Define Potential Careers
The first step is to make a list of possible jobs that are suitable for your strength-traits and personality. To do this, you will need the information from your 16Personalities or similar test and your assessment from CliftonStrengths. Both hint at potential careers that are suitable for your natural traits. As an example, my tests describe entrepreneurship, journalism, and systems analyst as a few possible careers for me. Search through your assessments and write out all the potential jobs you find.
As you are working through this step, remember that a career and a life’s purpose are not the same. A job should help you work towards fulfilling your life’s mission, not define it. So put aside the thought, if it arises, that you need to redefine your life’s purpose statement based on an appealing career path you discover.
Once you compile the list, place a * next to the roles you are currently filling and a + by the ones that you find interesting. If there are jobs that you vehemently know you don’t want, place a line through them.
After I completed this exercise, I copied it into the front of a new journal for future reference. I like to look at it to find suitable roles for myself that I could use to fulfill my life’s purpose. It is also a pleasant reminder of the jobs I can perform, and that if need be, I can do something other than what I am doing at this moment. In other words, I have options, and so do you!
With our career list completed, we will now put together a purpose diagram.
2nd – Create a Purpose Diagram
A purpose diagram highlights our answers to four statements: that which I love, that which the world needs, that which I am good at, and that which I can get paid for, to help us discover a path to implementing our purpose. As you can see, we could have used this step to develop our life’s purpose statement, but I feel it is more inclined to help us implement our mission through a career than it is to define our purpose. We should not limit our life’s mission to its ability to earn us a living. For some, they will need to find other means of support while they pursue their passion. As an example, missionaries, artists, scientists, and explorers are often dependent on benefactors. With that said, let’s dive into the purpose diagram.
We will do this in two steps. First, we will create a list of ideas for each category using a four-quadrant matrix, and then we will transfer those ideas to a Venn diagram.
Four-Quadrant Matrix to Implementing Your Life Purpose
A four-quadrant matrix diagram is reasonably self-explanatory. You create one by drawing a line down the center of a page and another across the middle of it. Title each quadrant with one of the four categories.
You should end up with something like
Now begin to fill in each with ideas. To help you get started, a brief description of each group follows. Remember, your thoughts may fall into two or more categories. If so, write them in each.
That which you love
That which you love are the things that you enjoy the most. These are the things that you have no problem prioritizing and spending time doing. When you are doing them, time seems to pass unnoticed. Write down everything that falls into this category, even if it seems trivial. As an example, I very much enjoy spending time watching movies, so it went into my “that which I love” category along with family and God.
That which you are good at
Referring back to your personality and strength assessments will assist in identifying items for this group. You can record the skills you have or personality traits that are beneficial, such as being altruistic or an electrician. I wrote down problem-solving, learning, system design, and sports as a few of mine.
That which the world needs
Figuring out “that which the world needs” is a little complex than the first two categories since it is outside of ourselves. If you need to, sit back and take a bit of time to consider what you feel is missing in the world. Think of what could benefit the world, or more so, your community. As an example, I wrote down better male mentors and father figures.
That which you can get paid for
For this group, refer back to the list of careers you composed. Write down all of the jobs that you find appealing (*) or perform today(+). If you have a new idea, write it down. I wrote down system analyst, web design, fitness training consultant, web developer, and journalism.
Once you have completed your lists, we will pull them together to see the relationships that develop by using a Venn Diagram.
In case you are not familiar with a Venn diagram, I will try to explain the concept in simple terms, but if you want the complicated version, you can check out Wikipedia. In short, a Venn diagram is a group of circles that describe a relationship between each other. The circles represent a set of information, and they usually overlap, forming cross-sections for the characteristics that fit inside two or more of the sets.
With that explained, now grab a notebook or a piece of paper and draw four rather large overlapping circles. Label each circle with one of the four categories:
- that which I love,
- which the world needs,
- that which I am good at,
- and that which I can get paid for
Remember to give yourself plenty of room to write. Place each idea in its proper circle, for any purposes that fit into two or more categories, note them down in the intersections of the rings. These are the ones we want to pay particular attention to, especially if they fit into all four groups.
Before filling it with ideas, your chart should look like this.
As mentioned above, an idea can fit into one, two, three, or four categories, and we want to pay close attention to the ones that fill the most. These are the paths that we should use to implement our life’s purpose, especially the ones that meet all four criteria. They may differ slightly from your life’s purpose statement and may not provide an obvious answer, but you should be able to develop your plan of action.
As an example, I will describe how this process worked for me.
At the center of my diagram, I placed the word fitness, because I recorded it in all four of my categories. Internet(web), problem-solving, and system design were the only terms that rested in three groups: I’m good at, I can get paid for, and that I love. Digital Marketing, journalism (blogging), and consulting landed in the “I can get Paid For” category. Independently, none of them made much sense, but when looking at them holistically, they provide me with a direction to work towards my life’s purpose, which is to use my skills and knowledge to bring joy to others. And, the path turned out to be Innis McMahon.
That concludes our final step in the development and fulfillment of our life’s purpose. I hope the process provides you with a direction for your life, especially if life is leading you instead of you living it. The feeling of being trapped is not comfortable, but when you know you are working towards something greater than yourself, your life takes on a purpose and provides you with an abundance of satisfaction.
Please leave any remarks you have about the process in the comments below or find us on social media.
I'm a has-been high school athlete who now enjoys CrossFit, baseball, and other athletic activities. As a profession, I design software, and I create the majority of I.M.s content. I do it for the fun of it, but I hope it helps others pursue fitness.