Leadership posts

6 Steps to Purpose

Posted by Laurie J Cameron

Mindfulness is essential to discovering your purpose. It deepens self-awareness—your ability to notice what activities and pursuits are the most fulfilling to you. It helps you discover the strengths, values, and passions that guide you to understanding your work in the world.

Here are 6 tangible mini-steps to seeking out and defining your purpose. Keep an open mind and know that there’s no single “right answer” as you consider your unique abilities and aspirations. Your purpose gives you direction and focus, but the path evolves as you do.


1. Start with values. Think of three people or characters that you really admire. You don’t have to agree with all of their behaviors or every part of their lifestyle, but imagine seeing them in action. What is it they are demonstrating? List the three names, and three to five qualities you admire about each person. As you reflect on the collective list, circle the top five that most resonate with you. Would you add or take away any qualities? Most often what we admire in others is what we value most.

2. Ask questions. Get still and listen. What is most essential to me? What brings me alive? When am I at my best? What do I care most about? . . . Use this process of self-inquiry and write down whatever comes to mind. (Again, the act of writing can be important to distill and clarify these thoughts and ideas.)

3. Envision your ideal life. Close your eyes, settle your mind and body with your breath, and see yourself in the movie, five years from now. If every- thing is going as best as you can imagine it, what are you doing? Are you serving others? What matters most to you in this scene? Draw out as much detail as you can—sounds, sights, people. When you open your eyes, take a few minutes to write down what came up. Journal what comes up, writing in the present tense . . . I am going for a morning swim in the ocean before leading a mindfulness retreat . . . Be bold—this is for you only.

4. Devise a slogan. Choose a word, phrase, or sentence that captures your purpose with positive, affirming language. Then say it out loud: I am a teacher of medicine to help heal; I use my creativity to serve children; I design buildings that protect and nurture. Once you’re happy with your slogan, write it down to make it real.

5. Embody your purpose. Purpose is more than a cognitive idea in your head. Get it into your nervous system, your muscle memory, your whole physical being. Stand tall with your feet squared, pull your shoulders back, take a deep breath, and with power, declare your slogan out loud again. What emotion do you feel in your body as you practice this?

6. Share it with others. There is power in public declaration (think of a wedding!), and when you say it to others, it becomes even more real. Your witnesses can support you and encourage you along your way.

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