Purpose.

It's a word that conjures up a lot of emotion. It's something we all want, and yet it can seem pretty elusive. It can also be hard to understand--it seems so big, so incredibly important, yet difficult to capture. 

I can relate. Earlier in my career, this is exactly how I felt about it, so I made it my mission to figure out how purpose works and how to define it for myself and for others. 

Here's one thing I know for sure: Purpose is absolutely crucial for a successful life and business. Knowing what provides meaning for you allows you to access intrinsic motivation, which is the holy grail of energy. When your motivation is connected to your unique Purpose, your energy for work will be endless

So, let's get started.

First things first: I define Purpose as the impact on others or on the world that's most meaningful to you. In order to identify that, you must be thoughtful about your life and the situations that have defined who you are--specifically those that happened in your early years. Spend time thinking back, and you will likely see that there's one core emotional challenge that has been a central theme to your life.

When you apply this to your impact on others, you'll find your Purpose. For me, the biggest emotional challenge of my life has been not feeling seen. Therefore, I realized that helping others see themselves for who they are is my Purpose.

This process is, of course, not always easy. So to help, I've put together a list of some Purpose statements that are rooted in common core emotional challenges. Reviewing this list may help you more easily identify the trials you've experienced and the impact you like to have. 



Find Your Purpose

Acceptance: Making others feel accepted

You're driven by being nonjudgmental and receptive to others because you feel like you weren't accepted by your family for being who you are. 

Being Heard: Helping others find their voice

This purpose might stem from growing up in a family where there was little to no communication or feeling like you were never heard. Helping others be open, find their voice, or fine-tune a message they need to share is endlessly fulfilling to you. 

Belonging: Helping people find a place where they belong 

You're motivated by helping people find the exact role in their workplace or life in which they will shine. This likely stems from feeling like you were constantly trying to identify your own place in the world. 

Boldness: Helping others be themselves

Based on a pattern of hiding yourself because you feared rejection, you want to help others be bold in a way that feels right for them. 

Calmness: Helping others navigate chaos

If you had to navigate ongoing chaos throughout your childhood, you likely learned a unique skill of adaptation and being calm in the face of a storm. You're fulfilled by helping others navigate a hectic, fast-paced, or disorganized workplace by being a voice of calm and reason. 

Control: Helping others feel in control

If you felt inadequate and out of control in your early years due to an unstable home life or other events, it's likely that helping others feel like they can take the reins in their own life is particularly meaningful to you. 

Difference: Helping others follow a different path, rather than the expected one

If you've always been drawn to do something different than what others expected of you but were discouraged from pursuing those things, helping others take the road less traveled will be exhilarating. 

Failure: Helping others overcome mistakes

This purpose comes dealing with the failures of others, most likely your parents or significant others. As a result, you've learned to make good decisions and avoid failures that negatively affect others. Also, you're driven by helping others with this same challenge. 

Fairness: Promoting justice 

If you felt unfairly disadvantaged or didn't get the same opportunities as others, it probably stuck with you. As a result, being impartial and advocating for fair treatment of others is not only meaningful to you, but also fundamental to how you operate.

Freedom: Helping others feel liberated

If you ever felt restricted in an unhealthy way, it's motivating to you to help someone else feel free, unencumbered, and able to thrive as they wish. 

Ideal Environments: Creating spaces that allows people to thrive

This purpose is rooted in being raised in an environment, especially at school or at home, that felt like the wrong fit. As a result, you love creating ideal environments for others to thrive in. 

Included: Making others feel included

You enjoy helping others feel included, because you once felt left out, especially if you were a shy child and often felt isolated. 

Opportunities: Opening up options for others

If your core emotional challenge was growing up with a lack of opportunities (financial or otherwise), creating them for others offers great fulfillment. 

Possibility: Helping others step outside of their comfort zone and realize what they're capable of

Any activity that allows you help others step into possibility is rewarding. This is because you may have felt trapped, you didn't believe in yourself, or you witnessed a parent not become fully actualized. 

Potential: Ensuring life is operating smoothly and to its highest potential

You might identify with this purpose if you were raised in a chaotic environment that didn't allow you to cultivate your potential. Now, you are constantly managing situations in order to keep things running smoothly. The net result is that you help others operate at their full potential. 

Positivity: Being a force of optimism 

If you were raised in an environment that was often critical and negative, you're fulfilled by bringing positivity to as many situations as possible. 

Prioritization: Helping people realize that their wants and needs matter

You're motivated by helping others understand that their wants and needs should be a priority because you know the pain of not having your needs met by others. 

Standing Out: Helping others not feel invisible

You live to help individuals or organizations stand out. You know what it's like to feel invisible, so you strive to help others speak up and say what's on their mind.

Support: Exceeding expectations by supporting others

You love helping other people achieve great things. You may be counteracting a childhood experience during which the bar for achievement was high and support wasn't provided for you to reach it. 

Understanding: Helping others feel understood despite being different

This is meaningful for you because being understood by your family and close friends was a constant challenge. 

Value: Making others feeling valued

If you were raised in a family where who you are was not valued, you may have been encouraged to be someone that you weren't. You therefore want to help others feel valued for being exactly who they are. 

Next Steps

To get even clearer on your Purpose, take note of all of the statements that resonate with you and your life. Then, download my Performance Tracker, a tool I developed that will allow you to measure the impact you have every week.


Fill out the tracker for one month, then go back to your identified themes. Now, which one is most prominent for you? After you identify it, fill out the tracker again for a month, making sure to create opportunities in which you can use this Purpose. Then, review: How do you feel? Are you more energized, more motivated? 

If not, don't be afraid to repeat the process until you are sure you've nailed your Purpose. Once you do, make a plan to proactively leverage it for the rest of 2020. 


Do that, and I promise--it'll be a year you won't forget.

Published on: Jan 6, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.