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Define Your Life Purpose

Inspired by the video of Adam Leipzig, Published by TEDxTalks, 2.1.2013

Everyone would like to know their purpose in life. We all want to answer the question, "What am I here for?" If you are not sure of your life purpose you should go to my other study, "Finding Your Purpose" that is listed in this library before going on with this study.

Now that you have some idea what your life purpose is, can you put into words what it is? So few people ever get to the place in life where they can define who they are and what they are here for. Proverbs 16:9 says, "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." We may plan what we think is our purpose, but outside of God, we have no purpose.

A man by the name of Adam Leipzig was on the last evening of his 25th college reunion, enjoying the party that was in a tent on the old Yale University campus. There was dancing, music, and noise, a lot of noise. So much noise that many of the classmates started to drift out of the tent so they could hear each other talk and catch up with the past two decades. As Adam talked with his friends he made an astounding discovery: 80% of them were unhappy with their lives. Most were saying, "I feel as though I've wasted my life, and I'm half way through it," or "I don't know what my life is all about."

These people were privileged to go to Yale University. They were highly educated, financially well off, and in positions of power. They had the first house, the second house, the first spouse and the second spouse. Yet still 80% of them were unhappy with their lives.

Adam start analyzing who the happy 20% were? He realized these were the ones who studied literature and Renaissance rhetoric; they were the theater people and the history geeks. They had studied classes for the joy of learning, not because they thought the classes were going to direct them to a specific job. They still got jobs, and they were living expanded live styles, and experiencing all of life's ups and downs, and yet, they did not feel they had wasted a single minute during this time. The more Adam Leipzig analyzed the happier 20%, he discovered that each of them knew something about their life purpose the other 80% never found out:

Define your life purpose by using these simple questions:

Who am I?

What do I do?

Who is it for?

What do they want or need?

What are they getting from it that brings good change?

If you are like most people you have wondered about your life purpose for a long time. There are books, magazines, workshops, and seminars about knowing your life purpose. lists over 150,000 books that refer to how you can learn your life purpose. Some people have spent their entire lives trying to learn their life purpose without being able to articulate what that purpose is. We can all agree that the unexamined life is not worth living, but if all you're doing is examining, you're still not living life, you are searching for life.

Who are You?

This would simply just be your name, not who you are as a person, or some deep psycho analytic understanding of your personality. Just simply, What is your name?

What do you do?

This would be your job, your occupation, or your deepest dream. It should be that thing you love to do? You love to write, cook, design, create apps, write code, crunch numbers, talk, teach, instruct, build, or make? What do you love to do? If there is a lot of things that come to mind, focus it down by asking yourself this question: "What is the one thing you feel you must teach, show, or give other people?" What you love to do that just oozes out of you. You do not have to work at it for it to come out, it just does. That is what you should be doing. Put all of your effort toward it, and become it, then you will be happy. Think about how to define it trying to put it into as few words as possible.

Who do you do it for?

Think about who you do this thing for. Picture these people in your mind. It could be many people you have not met yet; it could be many people you know; it could be specific people; it could be a small amount of people. Most importantly, you must picture them in your mind and be able to define them in a few words.

What do these people want or need?

What is that thing or things which these same people want or need. They come to you or you go to them, or it could be both, but they need something. Could it be a product, a service, a talent, or desire? It might even be something they don't know they need yet. Try to describe their needs in as few words as possible.

What do they get from it that can cause change?

How do the people you do for change or transform as a result of what you give them? This is the ultimate reason you do all the other four.

If you were to put all five together in a sentence format, you would have your life purpose. Make it simple as possible and don't over define your statement.

Johnny Holland's Life Purpose.

I am Johnny Holland. I help people see who God is. I am a minister who helps people learn who God is so He can show them who they are, so they can receive His blessings.

Why is this formula so powerful?

What makes this formula so powerful is that only two of the questions are about yourself, the other three are about other people: who they are, what they need, and how they change from it?

This formula forces you to be outward facing. This means not looking at what you need but what others need. All the happier people in life are outward facing, not inward facing. They know very clearly whom they served, what these people need, and how the people changed from what was being done for them. The most successful people in life always focus most on the people that they serve than on how people serve them. The aristocrat and royalty of the world would be happier if they would start using their servant's jobs as means to provide for the person, and as means to be a part of that person's life, instead of superiorizing themselves from people of service. People of privilege should use their privilege to raise others up and show them how to do the same for other people. Too often they use their privilege to hold people back by making unfair demands, or demeaning the task as being something they do not have to do because of their position. They miss the opportunity to use their generosity and kindness to change a servant's experience in service to be enjoyable and desirable. The privileged person can elevate their employees by helping them to enjoy the work experience not despise the entire organization and owners. Jesus said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant" (Matthew 20:25-26).

Happier people make it a point to make other people happy, and do things that make them feel well taken care of and secure. Life teaches us, if you make other people happy, you will be taken care of too. Proverbs 21:13 says, "Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard."

One of the most difficult things that happens when you meet people for the first time, is they ask you

"So, what do you do?" If you're like most people, that's a really challenging question sometimes. Particularly, if you're in these moments where you're between things, or you feel vulnerable, or it isn't so defined. This is especially hard to explain if what you are presently doing isn't what you really do, or want to do.

When people ask you, "So, what do you do?" Do you start this mental monologue asking yourself, "Why are they asking me what do I do? Is it because it's that transnational thing where they want to know if they should really spend time talking to me? Or, is it so they can tell me what they do, because they are sure it is so much better than what I do?"

When somebody asks you, "So, What do you do?" you just say the thing you do that changes the people you do it for. For example, I as Johnny Holland would say, "I help people see what the blessings of God are. This would cause them to enter a conversation with me because they are going to ask what did that mean? I would then have the opportunity to share that I am a minister and I help people see who God is. That causes people to see who they are, which brings you to the blessings of God.

Examples of life purposes.

A Writer of Children's books, you might say,

"I give kids awesome dreams. I write books for children so they can fall asleep at night and have awesome dreams"

A Clothing Designer, you might say,

"I help people look and feel their best. I design apparel for men and women when they need affordable choices, so they can look and feel their best."

An Entrepreneur Trainer, you might say,

"I help people get great work into the world. I train entrepreneurs and creative people to take decisive actions, so they can get their greatest work into the world."

A Teacher, you might say,

"I develop minds to grow. I teach children every day to reach their greatest potential and stretch their abilities by learning to read, add, subtract, write, and speak better, then their minds can grow."

This simple one liner statement becomes your personal elevator pitch. If you bring it down enough it will always start a conversation because the person you are talking with has to ask you a follow up question. In the four examples above the follow up questions could be,

"How do you give kids great dreams?"

"How do you help people look and feel their best?"

"Can people really get their greatest work into the world?"

"How do you develop minds to grow?"

So, when you are somewhere having a conversation with someone and they asked you the follow up question, you can share your life purpose with confidence, because you now have a sure understanding of what that is. People will see you can define your life purpose and they just might be curious how you can speak about it with such confidence. Then you can share how they can learn their life purpose too.

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