One Effective Method of Discovering your Life Purpose

Life purpose

Knowing your life purpose is crucial for your leadership. Leaders who have found and follow their life purpose are more driven, have a clear vision of the future, and maximize their leadership role. Your life purpose really does matter in your leadership. I’ve found one method especially helpful when it comes to discovering your life purpose.

Before I share the method you need to know everyone has a reason for living here on earth during this exact time in history. You were not created by accident. William Barclay said, “There are two great days in a person’s life- the day we are born and the day we discover why.” The reason why you were born is your life purpose. It’s the thing you have been called to do during your time on earth.

When I was 19 years old a good friend and myself where on a 3 hour trip from Portland Oregon to Seattle Washington. During the trip my friend put on a John Maxwell leadership CD. It was the first time I had listened to John Maxwell or a teaching on the topic of leadership. This one CD had a significant impact on my life and future.

It revealed a passion for leadership. I started to learn everything I could on the topic of leadership. For the next several years a couple different people came into my life to mentor me. They each provided me with leadership training and hands on experience. These two main situations (over several years) helped pointed me toward my life purpose. I discovered my life purpose has everything to do with leadership. Specifically, to equip the next generation of leaders so they will effectively influence those around them.

In most situations I’ve found discovering your life purpose does not happen in an “aha” moment. It’s a process that takes time. An efficient way to begin to discover or clarify your life purpose is to reflect on your past and current activities. The goal in doing this is to identify the themes in your life that are directing you toward your life purpose. Here are a few examples of themes that might have been in your life:

• Being drawn to or always doing a certain type of job
• A recurring passion that pulls at your heart strings
• Different people telling you (Throughout your life) that they see you’re strong or good at a skill or task
• Always being naturally skilled in a certain area
• A strong desire and enjoyment for a certain topic or field
• An encounter or experience (like my experience with listening to the John Maxwell CD) that draws you toward a specific topic or direction

Take time to reflect on your own major life themes. I believe as you do, it will reveal clues to help you identify your life purpose.

Questions: If you already know your life purpose how did you discover it? If not what methods are you using to discover your life purpose?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I think for most people this is a process. For me it was a combination of a lot of things like opportunity, the advice of others and my own desires.

    • That’s great Caleb, you sure are living out your life purpose. Keep doing great work my friend.

  • I have discovered parts of my life purpose, but I believe God continues to reveal little bits at a time. Over the years, people have told me that I have a talent for writing, photography, video, relationship building, etc. All of these aspects are a part of who I am, but they don’t paint the entire picture. Gary Barkalow states that “Your calling is the effect of your life.” I’ve come to believe that this process of discovery is an ongoing, life adventure, rather than a one-time, “ah-ha” moment.

    • Your skills/strengths are closely connected with your life purpose so your on the right path. Over the past couple years I’ve watched your blog, I’ve noticed you become even more specific with your topics. It really shows me your going down the right path, one that is toward your life purpose. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      • Thanks Dan. I appreciate your encouragement.

        • Your welcome. Have a great weekend!

  • Love it Dan. I did all of the things you mentioned. Also I stopped asking what and started asking how. For example I would always think what should I do instead of why was I drawn and how could I do that why more.

    • WOW, I totally missed this comment until now. Sorry about that.

      Great question to ask. Thank you for sharing Zech!

  • I have discovered my purpose in life through recurring themes. As I examine where I am and where I have been I can see themes rise up. Great thoughts Dan!

    • That’s fantastic Paul! Keep letting those themes guide you toward your life purpose.

  • I think for me finding my life purpose was something I prayed for and thought about for a long time. I was certainly impatient wondering what it was for many years. But then in a flash, God reveals a combination of skills, interests, opportunity, and how he’s been sovereignly working in your life all this time.

    • That’s great to hear, why not go straight to the source of who know our life purpose:) I think when we ask and seek God for our life purpose, it’s only a matter of time before He shows us. Thank you for sharing about your experience.

  • It took me many years of prayer and seeking God’s counsel to discover my purpose. I think that ultimately until a person has gained insight into who they are and what they are here to contribute they are ineligible to fully experience the kind of fulfilment and meaningfulness in their relationships and work that they ought to. We are not fully alive until we have discovered what we are here for and begin to live that out. Before we can lead anything we must first begin to lead ourselves, and that isn’t possible until we’ve gained a clear perspective or vision concerning our identity and purpose. But yeah, for me, it was a combination of seeking God’s counsel and being attentive, as mentioned in this piece, to my inclinations, instincts, aptitudes etc. This is a great post on what is, for me, one of the most important subjects there is in life and leadership.

    • Thank you Micah,

      Great thoughts. I personally believe our life purpose stays the same, it can take years if not our entire life to fully see the full picture of our purpose, but the methods to how we accomplish our life purpose change. For example, when I first found my purpose was to help others in the area of leadership it started with a desire to help but moved into writing and in the future will be other methods to doing the same thing. Thank you for sharing your wisdom here.

      • I so agree with this. The analogy I’ve sometimes used to help me make sense of it is it seems to be a bit like how a photograph develops (or at least used to, before the digital days). The image was already captured, it was already a defined, real and fixed thing. But it had to spend time in the dark room, in that chemical solution, and whilst there the image that had already been created would, over time, become clearer and clearer. Until what was always there from the beginning could then be seen. I think it’s a similar thing with discovering our purpose.

        And I love that point you make, the purpose remains the same but the method or outlet may change. Couldn’t agree more, and I guess it’s part of what makes personal growth such an exciting pursuit, because it’s a continual evolution. Both for ourselves and hopefully those we may have influence with.

        • Great analogy. While in High School I took photography 101 and did all of that. It’s a process just like discovering our purpose. Thank you for sharing that wonderful analogy.

          It’s why I find personal growth to be exciting. Thank you for the discussion.

  • Lea

    Finding your life purpose is definitely a process. It’s not something you can figure out before you become an adult, like some people may think. And it has more depth than acknowledged.

    Like @Micah said you need to be attentive. I realized my purpose after looking back a past events and noticed a common thread in things that even seemed very different. Paying attention to the comments of others on it. You definitely have to be open or you could what’s been there all along.

    I think your purpose is related to a combination of passion, pleasure and skill. Once you figure out something that touches on them you’re on the right track.

    ~Lea

    • Hello Lea,

      Being open is so key when it comes to hearing from the people who can help us discover our life purpose. I really like and believe your last statement is so true, I’ve said it for a few years that our purpose, strengths, and passions are closely connected with each other. Thank you for taking the time to read and add your thoughts to this topic.

    • Absolutely. Your words remind me of a quote I came across a few days ago that I’m really loving at the moment.

      “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.” – Aristotle

  • My life purpose involves writing & teaching mixed together. I both write to teach and I help others with their writing. I also teach when I get the opportunity, whether at church or in my son’s English classes at school. My goal with this is to help others take the small steps they need that will add up over a huge amount of time to make a big difference for change. My life has changed for the better that way, and I enjoy helping others experience that process too. With that, everything I do focuses on God’s directing of my life. It’s all for Him and not at all about me. There’s a lot more I could go in to, but suffice it to say that the small steps approach works well for me still today in every area of life.

    • Hello Kari,

      Your a superb example of a person living out their purpose, areas of passions, and personal strengths. Keep doing great work!

  • Great post, Dan. Yes, looking at themes is a great way to discover your purpose and you raise excellent questions to help you analyze and review where you’ve been during your life.

    A couple other questions – when do you feel most alive? where are you drawn to in the bookstore?

    I did find my life purpose from a combination of doing different jobs, trying out different careers, figuring out what didn’t work and analyzing my values. Also a strong intuitive and inner voice will always lead you to your purpose. I’m convinced we all already know what our purpose is – we just need it to come to light or raise up the surface.

    Thanks for writing this one!

    • Thank you Vishnu,

      Great additional questions. Thank you for sharing your wisdom in the comment section.

  • To be honest, I’ve stumbled through most of my life strongly pursuing the wrong thing. I was caught up in worldly definitions of success and had made my life’s goals based on worldly values. I’m so thankful that God intervened. I now love my life more than I could have ever imagined possible. I feel so abundantly blessed to be a home maker, wife, mother, writer, and friend.

    • Thank you for being transparent. Amen about God’s grace and how He changes us. Glad your living out our purpose. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • DS

    Sometimes it’s just listening: to others, to yourself, and to God. How would help define life themes?

    • I totally agree with that. Honestly, I’m still working on the idea/thought of life themes ( I wanted to get the idea out in a blog post) so I have not yet come up with a clear definition of a life theme. Any of your thoughts on that topic would greatly help.

  • Finding your life purpose. It’s always seemed like it takes a lifetime to actually realize what it was supposed to be. kind of defeats the purpose of having one, well- not really, but it does seem to take a long time to find it. I’ve always seen it as trial and error. I try one thing and if it works, I keep it. If it doesn’t, i get rid of it. Life is about discovery sometimes.

    • Hi Steve,

      “Life is about discovery sometimes” love that statement! Great strategy. Thank you for adding your wisdom here.