Five Steps to Finding Your Life Purpose (2023)

Why is it so hard to find our life purpose? There certainly is no short supply of problems in this world that need solving. There is no limit on the number of people whom we could help, or inspire, or support. There is no cap on the number of passions we could pursue. Yet, our life purpose often feels hard to pursue.

There are many reasons why you may not know your life purpose (take the well-being quiz to see what might be holding you back). Sometimes it's because the world's problems seem too big. Or we seem too small. Or maybe we are just exhausted from life and don't know where we'll find the energy to fight for what really matters to us. But finding and living our purpose is key to having a meaningful, fulfilling life, so I certainly strive to help people insert purpose into their lives. (Here's my purpose-driven business program if you need help applying your purpose to your business).

I also talk a lot about how to find life purpose and meaning in my new book, Outsmart Your Smartphone. Here are some of the key steps I suggest to get started exploring your purpose.

Step 1: Find out what drives you.

Five Steps to Finding Your Life Purpose (1)

Source: Pixabay

When I was a teenager, I was at a party and came upon a friend of mine. Her head was cast downward, her bangs were in front of her eyes, and she was squeezing her hand into a tight fist. As I approached, I noticed something red on her hand. It was blood!

I rushed over to her, grabbing her hand, demanding that she let me help her. Finally, after much prodding, she opened her hand. Laying in her palm was a piece of glass, glass that she had been squeezing as hard as she possibly could.

(Video) How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes | Adam Leipzig | TEDxMalibu

It was then I realized that she was intentionally making her hand bleed. She was so unhappy that she squeezed that piece of glass until blood was dripping on the floor. I didn’t know it at the time, but this moment was the first in a series of moments that would show me my life's purpose.

In the years that followed, I saw the scars of self-burning, the glazed-over eyes that come with extensive drug use, and the skin that hangs off a body that is being intentionally starved. I witnessed the depths of depression and the heights of mania, suicide attempts and near overdoses. It turns out that a person can only see so much pain before becoming driven to stop it. Or at least that's what happened to me.

So one way to find your purpose is to ask yourself: What pain or injustice or unhappiness have you witnessed that you just can't live with? Is there anything that touches you so deeply that it drives you? Often, a powerful purpose can come from powerful pain.

Step 2: Find out what energizes you.

Five Steps to Finding Your Life Purpose (2)

Source: Pixabay

It was a sunny but cool spring morning. I had just started my shift at the addiction rehab center where I worked. As usual, I went to the backyard to make sure none of the teenagers were smoking on the back roof. One of them was, so I told him to go back inside. He spent the next eight hours cussing at me, right up until the moment my shift ended.

This was the day I learned that you can burn out your life purpose if you pursue it in the wrong ways — ways that deplete rather than energize you. It is not enough to know the problem you want to solve; you have to think carefully about the way that you want to solve it.

(Video) 5 Steps to find your life purpose

So to find your life purpose, ask yourself: What energizes you?

Step 3: Find out what you are willing to sacrifice for.

Five Steps to Finding Your Life Purpose (3)

Source: Pixabay

Feeling deflated and defeated after working at the addiction rehab center, I paused to ask myself what I really wanted to do. I don't know about you, but often I think I want to do something, but I don't end up following through or putting in the work required to succeed — a sign that whatever it was, it wasn't really important enough to me to sacrifice for.

This time was different, though. I decided I wanted to go to graduate school to study emotion and mental health to figure out how, exactly, to solve the mental health issues I saw all around me.

This time, I listened to GRE words on my iPod during my lunch break at work. I volunteered in a research lab on my days off. I studied and wrote and learned until I passed out from exhaustion while preparing my graduate school applications.

This willingness to sacrifice didn't end when I got into graduate school. I worked relentlessly to the point of burnout. Now, I'm not recommending that you sacrifice to the point of burnout. All I'm saying is that when you find something that you are willing to sacrifice a lot for, you know that you've found your purpose.

(Video) 5 steps to designing the life you want | Bill Burnett | TEDxStanford

So ask yourself: What are you willing to sacrifice for?

Step 4: Find out who you want to help.

Five Steps to Finding Your Life Purpose (4)

Source: Pixabay

I have taught hundreds of students across four different universities, developed well-being-boosting products, and helped organizations create programs and positive technologies that have reached more than a million people worldwide. But perhaps the biggest impact I had was when I mentored a student my first year in graduate school. Always eager to learn, she'd smile big, excited about each new project and responsibility. At the end of our time working together, she became the first person in her family to graduate college.

Even though most psychology Ph.D.'s help students in universities, help customers or employees in companies, or help clients as therapists, I feel most in line with my life purpose when I support the change-makers: the people who will make this world a happier, healthier, better place. In fact, most of my work now focuses on doing just this: helping entrepreneurs build products and businesses that make a real difference.

To find your life purpose, ask yourself: Who do you want to help? There are many ways to chip away at the same problem, and it's up to you to find out who you want to help. By figuring out the specific person or people you want to help, you can more easily find your purpose.

Step 5: Find out how you want to help.

(Video) Steps to find your life's purpose.

Five Steps to Finding Your Life Purpose (5)

Source: Pixabay

When I first started working with entrepreneurs, I helped in any way I could. I conducted research, ran statistics, and created surveys. This is what I knew and was good at, but it didn't energize me (remember Step 2). As I acquired more and more clients with different needs, I found a real passion for product development and content creation. Yup! I like to write and like to create. I'm even sitting here on a Saturday afternoon writing this article ... because I feel like it.

Ask yourself: What do you love to do? And how do you apply this passion to your purpose? To find your purpose, you need to figure out how you can best use your passions and skills to achieve your unique goals and solve your unique problems.

Taking the steps to find your life purpose

Finding your life purpose is a lifelong journey. It's OK to take it one step at a time. It's normal to pause and reevaluate long-term goals regularly. And it's OK to feel overwhelmed. Nothing worth doing is easy, and this will not always be easy.

You will encounter frustrations and challenges along the way. Some days, you'll throw your hands up in the air in defeat. But then you'll remember Step 1. You're driven to solve this problem, and for some reason, you won't let yourself give up.

Originally published on

(Video) 3 Steps to Finding Your Purpose and Passion in Life


What are the 5 questions you need to answer to your purpose in life? ›

5 Questions to Help You Find Your Purpose in Life
  • What Are You Willing to Struggle for? ...
  • What Did Your 8-Year-Old Self Love Doing? ...
  • What Makes You Forget to Eat? ...
  • How Are You Going to Save the World? ...
  • If You Knew You Were Going to Die One Year from Today, What Would You Do and How Would You Want to be Remembered?

What is the first step in finding your purpose in life? ›

The first stage involves your having a clear understanding of who you are and what you want. The second stage is to identify what might be holding you back from finding your purpose and, once you've addressed any roadblocks, to understand what your purpose is.

What are some examples of life purposes? ›

5 life purpose examples
  • Traveling around the world and exploring different cultures.
  • Supporting your community.
  • Fighting for a social cause like climate change.
  • Being a positive, supportive person for your loved ones.
  • Building a business that makes a difference in people's lives around the world.
Jun 2, 2022

What are the 5 main areas of your life? ›

The Five Areas of Life to Set Goals:
  • Career/Financial.
  • Developmental/Educational.
  • Physical/Health.
  • Family/Relational/Social.
  • Spiritual/Value.
Apr 19, 2022

What are the 5 purposes of the Purpose Driven Life? ›

In The Purpose Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren reveals the meaning of life from a Christian perspective—five purposes that you were created by God to fulfill: worship, unselfish fellowship, spiritual maturity, your ministry, and your mission.

How do I find my path in life? ›

14 Ways to Get on a New Path When You're Feeling Lost
  1. #1 Try Out New Hobbies.
  2. #2 Talk To Your Loved Ones.
  3. #3 Journal.
  4. #4 Work Out.
  5. #5 Relax.
  6. #6 Set Goals.
  7. #7 Read Books.
  8. #8 Get Dressed Up.
Jan 17, 2023

How do I find my passion or purpose? ›

How to find your passion
  1. Create a personal vision statement. ...
  2. Uncover your values. ...
  3. Find your true north. ...
  4. Make a list of things you love to do. ...
  5. Assess the things you don't love. ...
  6. Acknowledge your strengths and achievements. ...
  7. Practice journaling. ...
  8. Embrace a mindfulness practice.
Feb 2, 2022

How do I find my life's purpose in 5 minutes? ›

How to Find Your Life's Purpose in 5 minutes:
  1. Who are you? This one is easy. ...
  2. What do you love to do? Whether at home or at work, what do you take the most pleasure in doing? ...
  3. Who do you do it for? ...
  4. What do those people want or need? ...
  5. How do people change or transform as a result of what you do for them?

What are the stages of purpose? ›

Your purpose. Your reason for being. Your reason for getting up in the morning.

Why is it so hard to find your purpose in life? ›

That's because your true inner self knows that your life purpose is out of sync with your outer life. The latter is often a false self, but you've identified with it because it's been so rewarding to your ego. I think most people retain at least a glimmer of awareness of their life's purpose within their inner being.

What are the 3 types of purpose? ›

Types of purpose include persuasion, information, and entertainment.

What are your top 5 life goals as of the present? ›

7 Meaningful Goals in Life
  • Develop your Passion into a Career.
  • Get good at being you.
  • Invest in Self-education.
  • Cultivate good habits.
  • Clean up your diet.
  • Travel for Experience.
  • Cultivate commitment in Relationships.

What are the 7 Keys to life? ›

The Keys To Success
  • Wisdom.
  • Integrity.
  • Work Ethic.
  • Purpose.
  • Gratitude.
  • Consistency.
  • Resilience.
May 4, 2020

What are the five ways to finding and living your best life? ›

Top 5 Ways to Live Your Best Life Now
  • Live in the present moment.
  • Do Things You Love.
  • Take care of your mental and physical health.
  • Build/repair meaningful connections.
  • Set healthy boundaries with yourself.
Jan 11, 2022

What is the best purpose of life? ›

Around the world, “family” ranks as the top choice when selecting one's purpose in life. It's the foundation from which people come from… and where many people return. If you feel that friends and family are priceless treasures that can never be replaced, this purpose is definitely for you.

How do you fulfill God's purpose in your life? ›

God's divine purpose for you is about why you do what you do
  1. Key #1: Ask Him.
  2. Key #2: Listen to Him.
  3. Key #3: Obey Him.
  4. Key #4: Surrender to Him.
  5. Key #5: Live for Him.
Apr 4, 2019

What are the 4 types of purpose? ›

To sum it up, you should do what is innately in you to do.
Mar 20, 2017

How do you find your true calling in life? ›

How to find your calling
  1. Listen to your internal compass.
  2. Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.
  3. Pay attention to your body and how you feel when trying new things.
  4. Try learning new things on your own.
  5. Take note of your dreams and things that seem like coincidences.
  6. Express yourself however feels right.
Jun 15, 2022

What is the best path to take in life? ›

10 Tips to Choose the Right Path in Life
  • Get to know yourself. ...
  • Consider your passions and what you enjoy doing. ...
  • Ask yourself what you are good at. ...
  • Ask for advice from those who know you best. ...
  • Consider your ideal lifestyle and what you want. ...
  • Research your options. ...
  • Consider the risks and rewards.

How do I pave my path in life? ›

Strategies For Paving Your New Path
  1. BE INTENTIONAL. Whatever you have set out to accomplish, your day isn't only filled with the things you want to do. ...
  2. BE VULNERABLE. Open up to people and share where you are struggling. ...
  3. BE CLEAR. ...
  4. BE IMPERFECT. ...
  5. BE KIND.
Nov 8, 2018

How do you connect to your purpose? ›

Here are six ways to overcome isolation and discover your purpose in life.
  1. Read. ...
  2. Turn hurts into healing for others. ...
  3. Cultivate awe, gratitude, and altruism. ...
  4. Listen to what other people appreciate about you. ...
  5. Find and build community. ...
  6. Tell your story.
Jan 10, 2018

What are 5 passions? ›

Knowing how passions materialize based on your interests can enable you to practice them in and outside of your work environment.
Examples of passions to pursue
  • Bike riding.
  • Tennis.
  • Swimming.
  • Martial arts.
  • Cardio.
  • Golfing.
  • Bodybuilding.
  • Hiking.
Jul 13, 2021

What comes first passion or purpose? ›

Purpose is the all-encompassing reason behind them

Purpose is that sometimes hidden motivation behind why you do what you do to find meaning. Your purpose is ultimately the foundation upon which your passion is constructed.

What were the 5 stages of life? ›

You can do this by realizing the potential of five interconnected stages: the Dreamer, Explorer, Builder, Mentor and Giver. I call it the “Principle of 18,” because each stage lasts for 18 years.

What is the 5 stage in the life cycle? ›

The product life cycle is the progression of a product through 5 distinct stages—development, introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. The concept was developed by German economist Theodore Levitt, who published his Product Life Cycle model in the Harvard Business Review in 1965.

What are the 5 stages of human life? ›

  • Infancy (neonate and up to one year age)
  • Toddler ( one to five years of age)
  • Childhood (three to eleven years old) - early childhood is from three to eight years old, and middle childhood is from nine to eleven years old.
  • Adolescence or teenage (from 12 to 18 years old)
  • Adulthood.
Sep 3, 2022

What are the 3 things you need in life? ›

The Three Things We All Need for a Happy Life
  • Someone to love.
  • Something to do.
  • Something to look forward to.

What should I do if I have no purpose in life? ›

Here are some things you can do when feeling lost and have no purpose in life:
  1. Find a Mentor. A mentor is someone who can offer guidance, support, and advice when you need it. ...
  2. Don't Compare Yourself to Others. ...
  3. Get in Touch With Your Values. ...
  4. Set Some Goals. ...
  5. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone. ...
  6. Help Others.
Jun 10, 2022

What causes a lack of purpose? ›

Key points. The end of a chapter in life, or a bout of depression or anxiety can trigger one to feel a lack of purpose. The key to finding purpose is clearing away the obstacles that interfere with taking action. Actions one can take to find purpose include rediscovering old hobbies and experimenting with new things.

What is a sense of purpose in life? ›

Having a sense of purpose gives us clear reasons for what we want to do. This can be a goal in life that makes us want to study, work, or train well. There's a close link with intrinsic motivation. People with a sense of purpose work hard because of a true interest in their goal, rather than because they have to.

What are the 3 meaning of life? ›

The three meanings of meaning in life: Distinguishing coherence, purpose, and significance.

What is personal purpose? ›

For this study, I defined personal purpose as: a deliberate choice to pursue a future directed intention that is personally meaningful, and beneficial to the greater society, that influences one's goals and behaviors.

What are the five basic questions? ›

Factual; Convergent; Divergent; Evaluative; and Combination
  • Factual - Soliciting reasonably simple, straight forward answers based on obvious facts or awareness. ...
  • Convergent - Answers to these types of questions are usually within a very finite range of acceptable accuracy.

What questions do you ask when identifying your purpose? ›

If you could do or be anything, what would you do or be? This question taps into your internal desires, and can help you identify your purpose. A good way to answer this question is to consider those things you like to do in your free time or the projects at work you volunteer for or seek out.

What are the 3 questions of life? ›

Your Best Life: Tolstoy's Three Questions for Life
  • When is the right time for every action?
  • Who are the right people to listen to?
  • What is the most important thing to do? [5]

What questions should you ask yourself when considering purpose? ›

What is my point of view? What are some of my ideas that reach beyond the actual plot of the story or issue? What is the purpose of my writing about this issue? Why is it important?

What does the 5 Ws stand for? ›

One of the best practices for writers is to follow "The 5Ws" guideline, by investigating the Who, What, Where, When and Why of a story.

What are the 5 questioning techniques? ›

5 essential questioning techniques for legal professionals
  • #1 Open-ended versus closed-ended questioning.
  • #2 Funnel questioning.
  • #3 Asking probing questions.
  • #4 Asking leading questions.
  • #5 Asking rhetorical questions.
Aug 12, 2016

What are 3 questions to ask yourself when it comes to planning your life? ›

The outcomes we experience in life are often a direct result of the questions we ask ourselves. That's the starting point.
3 Questions to Plan Your Life Around
  • How do I want to be remembered? ...
  • What matters most? ...
  • What single, brave decision do I need to make today?
Oct 10, 2022

Why is it hard to find your purpose? ›

That's because your true inner self knows that your life purpose is out of sync with your outer life. The latter is often a false self, but you've identified with it because it's been so rewarding to your ego. I think most people retain at least a glimmer of awareness of their life's purpose within their inner being.

What are the 3 golden questions? ›

The Golden Questions
  • Ask: “Where exactly did you first find out about us?”
  • Ask: “What persuaded you to purchase from us?”
  • Or “Please list the top three things that persuaded you to use us rather than a competitor?”
  • Ask: “Which other options did you consider before choosing our Product Name?”
Nov 26, 2013

What is life's biggest question? ›

Why is there something instead of nothing?” has been sometimes labeled as the “biggest question of all.”

What are the 4 questions to ask yourself for clarity before taking any decision? ›

4 Questions to Ask Yourself to Make Good Decisions
  • What are my options, and what are the pros and cons of each option? ...
  • A year from now, if I decide to do X, what might this look like? ...
  • What's the worst-case outcome? ...
  • What would I tell a friend to do?
Jan 17, 2023

Which are the three questions you have to ask yourself? ›

Asking great questions regularly can drastically transform your life in many amazing ways. Doing this also encourages you to pause and think more deeply.
3 Questions That You Should Regularly Ask Yourself
  • “Where am I?” ...
  • “Where do I want to be?” ...
  • “How am I going to get there?”

What should I ask myself about my life? ›

11 questions to understand what you want in life
  • What makes you happy? ...
  • What are your needs? ...
  • What are your personal values? ...
  • What gives you purpose? ...
  • What activities put you in a flow state? ...
  • What would you do if there were no limits? ...
  • Who do you admire or get jealous of? ...
  • How do you envision the patterns of your life?
Apr 11, 2022


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