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The following is adapted from Grant’s book “Work–Life Harmony.”
Do you know your life’s purpose? If you’re like many people, the answer is no. However, your purpose is necessary for work-life harmony; in fact, you can’t have work-life harmony without it. Why is it so important? Because once you have your purpose, you can invite your family, your work, your church, and all the different areas of your life into that purpose.
Where people get messed up, usually when trying to pursue work-life balance, is thinking that different aspects of life have different purposes. Those people try to pursue all of those different purposes all at the same time, attempting to juggle everything at once. It’s like they are on a balance, bouncing from one to the other, attempting to meet all these purposes—and trying not to fall off.
If you don’t have a purpose, you have nothing to invite people into—no goal that everybody is on the same page to pursue. However, when you recognize that you have one life with one purpose that everything else is invited into, everything is headed in the same direction.
If you’re reading this and you don’t currently know what your purpose is (or you don’t feel confident about it), that’s okay. We’re going to walk through how you can find your life’s purpose—one you already know you have but haven’t been able to put words to—just by answering four powerful questions. By the time we’re done, you’ll have created something strong to believe in, a purpose that you can live your life for.
The first question to consider when thinking about your life’s purpose is, "What problems are in the world?" As you write down these problems, begin to organize them into three categories.
First, external problems. These are the ones that everybody sees (for example, that someone is going hungry). Next are internal problems. These are the internal battles that occur within your mind as a result of that external problem, or how those external problems make an individual feel (for example, when somebody is hungry, they are unable to focus, their mind and body can’t perform how they need to).
The third category is philosophical problems. These are larger-scale societal issues that people can rally around. To find them, you can answer the question “Why is that problem just plain wrong?” For example, it is just plain wrong that an individual who is going hungry can’t be at their best because they can’t contribute to society or make a positive impact on the world, so they can’t fulfill their life’s purpose.
It’s best if your life purpose can deal with philosophical problems because those are the problems that motivate more people and have a higher impact when solved.
Once you have listed the problems you see, it’s time to move on. The second question to ask yourself is, "What do I want to do about it?"
You understand that there’s a problem and you’ve identified the philosophical aspect of it, but what do you want to do about it? It could be that you want to help, you want to encourage, you want to love. You may want to educate, minister, or disciple.
What are the things that you want to do? Do you want to give, to connect, to create, to nourish? Think about what you can do about that problem and what action you are going to take to help solve that problem.
Once you’ve brainstormed some answers to the second question, it’s time to get more specific. The third question to ask yourself is, Who am I going to serve?
Who are the people who have this problem? For me, it might be people in my hometown of Gilbert, people in the state of Arizona, people in the United States, or in the world.
For you, the people you’re going to serve may be in a certain town or state or a specific country. Maybe it’s a certain group of people, like your family, or possibly it’s just people in general.
Now that you’ve identified the problems, thought about what you want to do about it, and decided who you are going to serve, you’re very close to honing in on your life’s purpose. There’s just one more question you need to ask yourself: "What outcome am I going to provide?"
Are you going to provide a full stomach? A sense of belonging? The ability to flourish and thrive? Will you provide happiness or freedom? What are you going to provide to the people you’re going to serve, through what you’re doing?
There is no right or wrong answer here. Take the time to really think about what comes up for you when you ask yourself this question, then write it down.
Once you’ve answered all four questions, it’s time to put them all together into a purpose statement. When creating a life purpose statement, you don’t need to write some big, long, convoluted paragraph. Your purpose should be selfless and simple, so it’s easy to invite people into. To show you what that looks like, let me share my own answers to this exercise, starting with my purpose statement: My life purpose is to “love them.”
What’s the problem? People need to be loved. It’s just plain wrong when they’re not loved because then they start acting out of selfishness. And when selfishness is acted on, the world is a much worse place to live. I believe people were created in this world to give and receive love and when they don’t receive love, things don’t go well.
So what am I going to do? I am going to love. Who am I going to love? I’m going to love them. And what’s the outcome going to be? It’s going to be love.
It seems super simple: love them. Your life purpose should also be simple. That way, it’s easy to invite other people into it. If someone asks me, “What’s your life about?” I can reply, “I’m here on the planet to love people.” That’s simple and it invites people to want to learn more.
This sounds counterintuitive, but your life purpose shouldn’t be about you. It needs to be selfless. If it’s not—if you have a selfish purpose—you are going to have a really hard time inviting others into your purpose and getting your work and your family to be in harmony with you.
When you make your purpose, and your life, about others it actually increases your happiness. Not only will a selfless life purpose allow you to invite others in, to pursue this purpose with you, but selfless people are also statistically proven to be happier.
The best way to determine if your life purpose is selfless is to ask, “Does it require me to sacrifice?” If you have to give something up or serve, there’s a good chance that your purpose is selfless.
Your life purpose gives direction and meaning to your daily actions while at the same time eliminating loneliness. You have a reason to wake up in the morning. You’re making an impact in the world. You’re contributing because all your actions and everything you do in your life point toward this purpose and the contribution that you’re making to the world.
Instead of being alone, you’re locking arms with other people. You share a goal. You’re not alone anymore.
When you discover your purpose, life becomes simpler. Everything you do in your life needs to point to that purpose. For me, my whole life points to my purpose: loving people.
For more advice on how to invite your family and your work into your life’s purpose, you can find Work-Life Harmony on Amazon.
Husband, Dad, and Sun Valley Community Church student ministry volunteer. A Finance Expert and Founder of Stewardship. Christian Ministries major from Arizona Christian University and bestselling author.