The Purpose Project
A few months ago, I was challenged to come up with a personal purpose statement. To me it felt like a simple and easy project. Not a huge request and one that could be done quickly. So, I wrote down what I believed to be my purpose on a blank piece of paper.
“My purpose is to encourage others to love themselves, to feel valued, appreciated, understood, and respected through establishing strong connections and relationships with those I encounter”. This wasn’t all, folks. My purpose statement continued on for another two full paragraphs. I was going to make sure I included everything. My purpose statement was going to reflect the person I was---or at least the person I thought I was.
After scribbling this down rather quickly, I was proud of myself and felt like I did a pretty decent job. Who needed a couple of days to figure out their purpose? Pssh. I’d done so in 20 minutes. However, when I gleefully arrived at my therapist’s office to share the purpose statement I created (at her request), her response was anything than expected. She simply looked at it for five seconds, looked at me, and shoved the purpose statement back into my hands. “I don’t know what you think this is, but it isn’t your purpose statement”, she chided. I was shocked. How was she going to tell me what my purpose was? I am me! I know what I’m supposed to do, gosh darn it.
She could tell I was surprised and said, “This statement is what you’d like others to do for you. It’s how you want to be cared for and approached. You didn’t realize that you made how you want to be loved in the world into a purpose statement about how you care for others. Your purpose statement should be concise---only one sentence. It should reflect the gifts God has given you and what you truly love to do. Here are ten questions. Answer all of these and then try again”.
Talk about a moment of realization. I realized then that finding your purpose should not be a project. It’s most definitely a journey. It is an evolving journey at that. Most often we tend to think our purpose has to be grandiose with a pompous air of “I’m going to change the world and the people in it”. We try to rate our purposes by whether they appear to be big and powerful or small and meaningless. However, if your purpose is to educate the youth about taking care of our planet and themselves through your gift of gardening, your purpose is perfect, beautiful, and just the right size because it comes from God. If your purpose is to create strong and healthy alliances among people via coaching a football team, your purpose is yours and it’s beautiful. No purpose, as long as it’s derivative of God, is ever small or meaningless. We all have a purpose or calling to serve and it’s usually one where God uses our strengths and joys to do so.
So, I took my therapist’s request seriously and spent two weeks crafting a purpose statement that was authentic to me and who I am. And guess what? I got it down to one sentence! My therapist approved and now my purpose hangs in my bedroom as a reminder each morning of what God has called me to do.
I have a challenge for you all. Take a look below and answer some of the questions my therapist gave to me to figure out your purpose. Then take some time to craft your purpose statement. Take as long as you need and don’t rush through it. Then, if you’d like, I’d love to hear your purpose statement! Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply post it on your wall as a reminder of who you are, whose you are, and what you’re meant to do. What a great way to continue to move through the beginning of a new year.
- I feel great about myself when I …
- When I was 10 years old, I really liked to…
- If I were not afraid of what other people would think, I would…
- I would regret not doing “what” in my life…