Finding your life purpose


Many people feel they live their lives without a purpose. I have coached those who feel they are wandering through life, with no direction or intention. Some people have always known what they wanted to do in life, and are intentionally living it every day – they have purpose. Some people discover their purpose later in life, after having lived a life of what they thought they SHOULD do, rather than what they CHOSE to do. Usually, some major life change forces them to re-evaluate and make changes so they can be happier.

If you asked people, “What do you think life purpose means,” you would get as many answers as people polled. That’s because it means different things to different people, and there are many factors that are taken into consideration when determining life purpose: values, culture, background, education, location, and so on.

The way I help clients find their life purpose is through an analysis of four components of their lives: Passion, Mission, Vocation and Profession. Here are brief definitions of each:

• Passion: Is that which you love. The thing that sets your soul on fire. Something you think about constantly, and when apart from it, you count the minutes until you are with it again. The object of your passion could be a person, a job, a place, a food, a pet or a combination of all. When you are passionate about something, you can’t stop talking about it, or trying to learn more about it.
• Mission: Is that which the world needs, and you are going to provide it for the world. Your mission, like your passion, drives you. But rather than coming from an internal place, a mission is usually doing something for someone other than yourself.
• Vocation: Something that you can be paid for, usually your job. Your vocation is what gets you up each day and sends you off to work so that you can support yourself and your family. Some people are more attached to their vocation than others.
• Profession: Is that which you are good at, and is closely aligned with vocation. You can call yourself a professional when you have reached a certain level of expertise in your job.

When these four components all intersect, you have arrived at your life purpose, for example:
“Life purpose is when you have found something for which you get paid, and which you have a high level of expertise in that fires you up and inspires you every day to improve. Not only does your life purpose provide comfort for yourself, it also does good for others.”

Here is a story about someone in search of her life purpose:

Vanessa is a 50 year old woman who is at a crossroads in her life. She has had a varied career in education, corporate management and was even a small business owner. Her 50th birthday found her in a reflective mood, wondering if she had wasted half her life. She didn’t feel excited about what she was doing, and was seriously thinking about making a career change, but was worried she may not find a job that paid as well as her current position.

Vanessa decided to hire a coach to help her with this life decision. Her coach quickly zeroed in on four major components of Vanessa’s life: her passion, mission, vocation and profession.

What was Vanessa passionate about? In all her jobs, the one common thread was helping people improve their lives. When she would hear about someone she had worked with whose life was improving, it was like a weight lifted from her shoulders and she was happy for the rest of the day.

Her coach then asked her about her mission. What did she want to do to enhance her world and the world around her? Vanessa was always interested in bringing quality education to those less fortunate. She felt very strongly that there were inequalities in the education system, but was always pulled to jobs that paid very well, and what she was thinking about just didn’t pay like that.

What was Vanessa’s vocation – what did she do for a living? Currently, Vanessa was a vice president with a for-profit educational services company. It was a great living, although the hours were long, the pressures high and she just didn’t feel fulfilled at the end of the day.

Finally, her coach asked her about her expertise – what was Vanessa highly qualified to do? With a Master’s degree in Business Management and Marketing, Vanessa felt she could meet or exceed the performance of most people in her industry.

Over the course of several coaching sessions, Vanessa and her coach arrived at her life purpose. Not surprisingly, it would require Vanessa to leave her current position and do something completely outside her comfort zone…Vanessa was going to start her own company! The idea started to take shape over the months Vanessa and her coach worked together. The new business would be I the education world, but would also include elements of the non-profit world and focus on delivering services to children in low-income families. Programs and services they would not have access to in their public schools. Through her connections that she built through years in the corporate world, Vanessa would raise the initial seed money to purchase the technology and hire a software developer to create the program she had in mind. Vanessa was so excited, that the ideas were flowing like lava and her enthusiasm was contagious. Soon, she had hired two interns from a local graduate school to help her with the millions of things she needed to do to get the company off the ground.

Vanessa was working harder than ever, but amazingly, she didn’t feel tired. She couldn’t wait to wake each morning and get started again. She had finally found her life’s purpose!

To find your life purpose, complete the following activity:

Step 1: Think about each of the following four questions, and answer them with some detail.
1. What is your passion? What is it that you love to do and want to learn more about?
2. What is your mission? What is it that you are interested in that the world needs?
3. What is your vocation? What do you do that you are paid for?
4. What is your profession? What do you do that you are very good at?

Step 2:
Look for any synergy between your passion, mission, vocation and profession. You may have to think about it for a bit – the answer may not be obvious at first. This is where regular coaching can really help.

Step 3:
The intersection of the four components is your life purpose.


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10 Core Company Values of Buffer

These are the company values of Buffer from February 18th, 2015 (v0.5)

  1. Choose Positivity and Happiness
    • You strive to approach things in a positive and optimistic way
    • You avoid criticizing or condemning team members or users
    • You avoid complaining
    • You let the other person save face, even if they are clearly wrong
    • You are deliberate about giving genuine appreciation
  2. Default to Transparency
    • You take pride in opportunities to share our beliefs, failures, strengths and decisions
    • You use transparency as a tool to help others
    • You always state your thoughts immediately and with honesty
    • You share early in the decision process to avoid “big revelations”
  3. Have a Focus on Self Improvement
    • You are conscious of your current level of productivity and happiness, and make continual changes to grow
    • You have a higher expectation of yourself than Buffer does of you
    • You regularly and deliberately do things that make you feel uncomfortable
    • You practice activities and develop habits that will improve your mind and body
  4. Be a “no-ego” Doer
    • You don’t attach your personal self to ideas
    • You let others have your best ideas
    • You approach new ideas thinking “what can we do right now?”
    • You are humble
    • You always ship code the moment it is better than what is live on our site – no matter what
  5. Listen First, Then Listen More
    • You seek first to understand, then to be understood
    • You focus on listening rather than responding
    • You take the approach that everything is a hypothesis and you could be wrong
    • You are suggestive rather than instructive, replacing phrases such as ‘certainly’,’undoubtedly’, etc with ‘perhaps’, ‘I think’, ‘my intuition right now’
  6. Have a Bias Towards Clarity
    • You talk, code, design and write in a clear way instead of being clever
    • You over-communicate, repeating things more times than you would intuitively
    • You use more words to explain, even if it feels obvious already
    • You don’t make assumptions, you instead ask that extra question to have the full picture
  7. Make Time to Reflect
    • You deliberately find time for reflection, because that’s where your life-changing adjustments come from
    • You have a calm approach to discussions and ponder points in your own time
    • You find time to jump out of the trenches into the higher level thinking that will move the needle
    • You understand the value of patience and treat it as a muscle which needs practice to grow
  8. Live Smarter, Not Harder
    • You value waking up fresh over working that extra hour
    • You always aim to be fully engaged in an activity, or resting
    • You single task your way through the day
    • You are at the top of your game, as you focus on expanding capacity of your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy
    • You choose to be at the single place on Earth where you are the happiest, and most productive, and you are not afraid to find out where that is
  9. Show Gratitude
    • You regularly stop and are grateful for your circumstances
    • You are grateful for the work co-workers do to push the company forward and help you move faster
    • You approach customer conversations with humility and the knowledge that it’s a privilege to serve these people
    • You have gratitude for platforms, tools and open source that laid the foundation for the possibility of the company: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” – Isaac Newton
  10. Do the Right Thing
    • You choose what’s best for customers and the company in the long-term
    • You correct the mistake even when no one would notice
    • You strive to provide the best solution, even if that means foregoing profit
    • You get excited about opportunities to help others

8 Core Company Values of HomeHero

I came across HomeHero‘s core company values recently.

  1. “Focus on long-term success.”
  2. “Fearlessly contribute new ideas.”
  3. “Have higher expectations for yourself than others do for you.”
  4. “Focus on building real value over perceived value.”
  5. “Challenge yourself to do the hard thing.”
  6. “Treat every problem as an opportunity.”
  7. “Promote and protect our brand.”
  8. “Default to transparency.”