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Do you know what your purpose is? Did you ever wonder why you were born or what the meaning of life is? If you have asked yourself these questions, you have been looking at your purpose. A purpose gives meaning to life and helps you make important choices. Purpose also leads to a sense of fulfillment.

What is the difference between having a purpose and having a goal? Goals are not as expansive as one’s overall purpose. Goals can be stepping stones toward a life purpose or simply accomplished for a personal gain. Goals can be short-term or long-term, but are oriented towards the self. Goals help us focus our efforts, learn self-discipline, and experience personal achievement.

Purpose has a higher aim – towards the greater good of the world, for humanity or the environment, etc. Purpose is about doing good in the world, leaving it a better place, helping others to be better off, serving a need or advancing humanity. Purpose is not done for personal gain, and yet it leads to a sense of fulfillment – achievement on the highest plane, and a deep and lasting sense of satisfaction at having made a difference. Because purpose is beyond the personal, it leads us to a connection with something greater. It is also by nature virtuous or heroic because it is not done for personal gain.

How can having a sense of purpose improve your relationships? Move into thinking about helping others and out of striving for yourself. It will bring you out of a competitive mindset (either I win/get more or they do) and into a cooperative striving for others. It will change your priorities on how you spend your time, energy and capital. It will also launch you out of small battles over insignificant issues when you are focused on serving a broader need.

How to begin working with your purpose:

  1. Develop of list of needs you would like to see filled, and problems in the world you would like to see cured. It may be a way to alleviate suffering or bring greater joy to the world.
  2. Add to your list new ideas or innovations you think would make the world even better or happier than it is today.
  3. Start another list of your particular talents – any area that you are naturally good at, educated or experienced in. Perhaps you are good at writing, speaking, designing, teaching, marketing, working with people, etc.
  4. Think of ways you could use some of your skills from the talent list to work on some of your causes from the first list.
  5. Do some research to find ways to get involved in the effort. There may already be organizations that are looking for people like you to help. Often there are volunteer opportunities, but there may be paid ones as well.
  6. Look at how you are spending your time and resources now, and consider if you would like to begin or reallocate more to some purpose work.

If you are interested to learn more about purpose, I recommend reading The Power of Purpose: Living Well by Doing Good, by Peter S. Temes (2006).