IV. On Defining Your Life Purpose and Mission
In order to define your life purpose and mission, you need to know exactly what a life purpose and what a life mission is. Are they the same or is there a difference? For me, I sensed that they were different. These questions have been going around and around in my head lately, probably because many of my coaching clients are working on writing their mission statements.
However, I kept feeling like mission did not quite cover why we are here; it felt more like how we express our purpose. Purpose being the "why" we are here or "what" we are here for. However, I kept trying to figure out the definitions of purpose and mission. So I looked them up in the dictionary. Most dictionaries define Purpose as "the object toward which one strives or for which something exists; an aim or a goal". I then got hung up on the aim/goal thing, for again that seemed more like an action or expression of the "why" or "what". Then I decided to drop this part of the definition and perceive it as "the object for which something exists" and understand the "something" as "our lives". One of the definitions of object is "a focus of attention" and then it started making more sense to me. I could now define life purpose as the focus of attention for which our lives exist. One of the synonyms for focus is center so I defined purpose as the "center of attention for which my life exists" or what my life revolves around.
At that point, I looked up mission to see if I could understand how life purpose fit with life mission. Also I wanted to verify that my perception of mission as an expression of our purpose was anywhere near correct. One of the definitions of mission is "a special assignment given to a person". So then I defined mission as the special assignment given to me to fulfill my purpose.
So then from this perspective you can define your purpose as your reason for being in your current body at this particular time and place. Then once your purpose is defined, you can define your mission as how you express, i.e., what activities you pursue or service you perform, or how you desire to express your purpose in this particular lifetime. Now that we are all working from the same definitions, we can now work on defining your life purpose and then your mission.
Now you ask how do I begin to ascertain what my purpose is? What I will do is share the process I went through to determine my purpose. I submit that this is as good a method as any, although there are numerous books on this subject. Please do check them out as well. My web site is currently being updated and one of the additional features will be a recommended reading and resource page that will have some other recommendations for you.
Returning to my process, to begin, I spent a great deal of time reviewing my entire life. I then wrote down what I call a narrative time line of my life. I divided my history into five years increments, i.e., 0-5 years, 6-10, 11-15, etc., and for each for these increments all the way up to 54 years I wrote a narrative of the events that took place during that time of my life. For each of the increments I included the answers to the following questions:
- The significant events during this part of my life were
- The one event I remember most was
- These events affected my life in the following ways
- The person(s) who influenced me most was (were)
.and how they influenced me
- This part of my life affects me now in the following way(s)
Once all this was written down, I analyzed it to determine the "themes" of my life. What kinds of people and events kept reoccurring over and over again in my life even from the time I was a small child, and what was the significance of the meaning of these people and events to my life.
In order to get a better sense of this I will share my purpose with you:
My purpose is to live a life of fearless adventure and purposeful service, learning and growing through relationships, celebrating the feminine and listening to and following Spirit's guidance.
Most of you have read my web site and some of you have taken the time to read my page named "More about Sedona" which is a condensation of my narrative time line. If you have read this, you will probably be able to pick out some of the pieces of my life that have contributed to defining my purpose. For instance, I speak about my neighbor's mother-in-law who never went to Howard Johnson's even through she lived just around the corner. For me, the significant of even remembering this story from my early years is the fact that part of my purpose for being here is to "live a life of fearless adventure", to never say, "I wish I had" but to know that I did.
Again, once you have defined your life purpose you can then determine how you express it, what activities you pursue or services you perform, or what activities you desire to express, pursue or perform. An excellent book which I use with my clients to define their mission statements is "The Path - Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life", by Laurie Beth Jones. She has the simplest formula I have found for going through this process. So if you are interested in doing this, I recommend getting a copy of her book and completing all the exercises from page 1 - 70. At the end you will certainly have at least the beginnings of a mission statement to add to your life purpose. You may want to sit with your mission statement for a while and continue to refine it until it really resonates with you and who you are. I will share my mission statement with you and show you how I express my purpose in the world.
My mission is to inspire myself and others to create and live lives of joy, purpose, love and abundance.
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