Five Keys to Living A Life of Purpose

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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I don’t know about you, but for years as I went about my daily life, and manifesting all the fun dreams I have lived so far, I still found myself asking the bigger picture questions: What am I here? What is my purpose?

I’m thankful that my travels, teachers and experiences have helped me to feel like I am living “on purpose,” and to understand what that means for me. So I wanted to share my five keys to living a life of purpose.


The Big Picture

Purpose, for me, is the umbrella under which all of my actions can fit. It is what unifies everything I do.

How does one pick a purpose? What is so big and meaningful that it can encompass anything you do?

For me, the exercise I give clients when “picking a purpose” is to start by thinking about who you want to be in this lifetime. What qualities do you want to embody and be known for?

Is is love? Compassion? Grace? Beauty? Fun? I ask clients to pick up to three that resonate most for them.

If you can narrow it down to one that really speaks to you, go with that!

For me, the two that resonate most are joy. And being love.

I figure that anything I do that brings true joy to me and others is a win. And any action that is made in the spirit of love enhances my life and the lives of those around me.

If this was the sole measure of my life, and I succeed in doing these two things more of the time than not, I feel like I am winning at living a life on purpose!

A Mission Statement! 

I love to craft a mission statement for life too, and challenge my coaching clients to do this in 10 words or less.

The one that I have used for myself for years is: “To live a joyful abundant life of service and adventure.” If I am being of service, and having fun, what more can I ask, really?

Learning, growing, loving and giving… It is why I am here!

Daily Check-In

I believe that living on purpose is all about intentionality. It is about creating what we set out to create, by holding a vision for it.

I love to envision success during my morning meditation practice, spending five minutes just seeing myself doing whatever it is I want to do next to make my dreams come true.

And I love creating intentions for the day, which for me are often more about qualities than just a to-do list. So, asking the universe to have a fun-filled, magical, adventurous, happy, loving, beautiful day, for example.

Quarterly Check-In

At least four times a year, and preferably more often, I like to check in on my annual goals just to see how far I’ve come, and what I need to focus on next to bring those dreams to life.

For me right now, that means this summer is about finishing my book proposal, and dancing as much as possible!

My emotional, spiritual, and physical health are always a priority, which just means that I am keeping up with my practices of meditation, exercise, healthy eating, drinking plenty of water, and getting plenty of rest.

Being Playful

I like to believe that if you are living on purpose that it’s possible to do so playfully. I think we are meant to create in ways that are joyful for us, and to laugh. To have fun in this lifetime!

For me, it’s a good test of purpose to be sure that I can still have fun with it, and that I am not taking myself too seriously. The fate of the world does not rest on our shoulders alone, so there is no need to be Atlas.

Play is important, and if my purpose includes play and being joyful, then I feel like I’m doing something right in this life!

Those Five Keys

Those five keys to living on purpose for me again are:

1. Start with the big picture: Make a decision about who you want to be in this lifetime. Let that quality, or qualities, lead you as an all-encompassing purpose. For some, creativity might be your biggest purpose. For some, it might be joy, or peace.

2. Write a mission statement: Have fun crafting a mission statement for your life, in ten words or less preferably, that summarizes the fun stuff you do. I like to think that purpose statements are about who you are being, and mission statements are about what you are doing. Are you a creative artist designing a beautiful life? Are you a lover who touches every life around you? Are you a candle, lighting a spark in the hearts of others? What fun statement could encompass much of what you do?

3. Commit to a daily check-in: Even if it’s just three minutes while you are brushing your teeth in the morning, or five minutes before you pop out of bed, remind yourself of your purpose daily. Envision success. Think about the qualities you want to bring into the coming day! Just this much, I find, can shift the quality of a day immeasurably.

4. Commit to doing check-ins at least quarterly around your big picture goals: Writing down your goals for the year, and checking in at least quarterly, can help you ascertain if you are making as much progress as you like in living “on purpose” and help to discern where you need to adjust your sails to shift direction, or where you might need to take more action.

5. Be playful, i.e. remember to enjoy living on purpose, and to have fun with whatever you create. We are here to enjoy this life, while we learn and grow – it’s such a gift! For me one of the big tests of whether my “purpose” is big enough is: does it include play, and fun? Am I finding ways to incorporate these into my daily life, relationships, work? I know that sometimes in my life I have gotten stuck when I dove too deeply into analyzing what the “perfect” path for me might be, in terms of what work to do, or where to live, or who to love. In the end, I think what matters most is that we just enjoy whatever path we pick, and find ways to enjoy even the difficult times by just finding something to love every day.

Finally, I love thinking of purpose as an acronym, standing for:

P = PASSION (so choose a purpose you are passionate about!)

U = UMBRELLA for all that you do

R = REACH (that living your purpose makes you stretch and grow, and challenges you to be your best!)

P = PEACE (that you feel peace in your heart when you think about living this purpose)

O = ONENESS (that your purpose is something that helps you to feel “one” with others and helps humanity!)

S = SOUL (that you feel that your purpose has soul, and is part of your soul’s joyful path!)

E = ETERNAL (that you could live with your purpose forever and be happy with it!)

What is YOUR purpose? Have fun with this!

  • This has been on my mind a lot for the last few weeks. Defining my purpose on this new path of health and fitness has been a work in progress. I had to define it for an interview just last week and like this version: To inspire others to find their health and strength through fitness.

    Thanks Lisa for the post and your acronym!

    • Love that!!!! And you are the perfect woman for it! Love to see you living this dream out loud – you make me so darn proud, gorgeous! <3 XOXO