Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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finding purpose

It’s Never Too Late to Find Your Purpose in Life 

As children, we were all asked “what do you want to do when you grow up? 

I always marvel that we ask young people this question. Because I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up, I am astonished when some young people have an answer.

“I want to be a pilot.
“I want to be an architect.”
“I want to be a fireman.”

Note: Everyone wants to be a fireman! What is amazing are those people who go on to actually be firemen.

As a result, many people confuse what we do with our purpose.

The topic of people finding their purpose is often brought up in motivational speeches and self-help books. While there are many great tips for people to seek out more meaning in their career and personal lives, they may be going about it all wrong.

Maybe you’ve been living your life as planned, when all of a sudden, you just know in your gut that there’s more to life than what you’ve been doing. You feel like the life you’re living isn’t the one you want.

All of a sudden you wake up and wonder, is that all there is? FOMO kicks in.

If you’ve thought about it and realized something is missing, then it’s possible that you haven’t yet found your purpose – or maybe your purpose has changed, and you just now figured that out.

Your purpose in life is something that can be difficult to define. It’s more than just thinking about your feelings and hoping for an aha moment. You have to dig deep and consider multiple possibilities, including some really uncomfortable scenarios before you discover what you should do to truly bring personal satisfaction.


Has Finding Your Purpose Been a Struggle for You?

Steven Pressfield, author of the books Gates of Fire, Last of the Amazons, and The Legend of Baggar Vance (remember that golfing movie with Will Smith?) also wrote The War of Art, one of the most impactful books of all time.

In The War of Art, Pressfield proposes that we need to figure out our purpose, which is what we were put on the planet to do.

He makes the point that once we figure it out, we have to relentlessly pursue doing this thing which is our purpose. A purpose goes beyond just a career. A purpose is our why.

It is why, after decades of writing, and dozens of best-sellers, Steven Pressfield still writes every day. It is his purpose. It is why he is on the planet. It is not just what he does, it is who he is. He is a writer. So he writes.

Having a purpose helps you live a life that is worthwhile. When we don’t have a purpose, we may feel adrift, like we don’t really know what we’re doing or what’s truly important.


If you listen to advice about finding your purpose, you’ll notice that a lot of people try to make finding your purpose sound simple.

It can be for some people. There really are people who don’t struggle to find their purpose. They just know. For them, it’s easy and it happens. They knew they wanted to design buildings and now they are architects. 

They knew what they want to do for a career. They know how they want to live their life. Some people have this realization in childhood and grow up to live out the aspirations that define their purpose.

Finding a purpose doesn’t happen like that for everyone. Finding your purpose can be a time of confusion and even fear. This is because so much advice has made “finding your purpose” sound like once you find it, you’re locked in for life.

But that’s not what a purpose is. You might get some clues early in life about what your purpose may be. For example, there are some kids who love to paint, while others were fascinated by constructing houses at an early age. 

These kids may carry that desire into their teenage years and beyond. For them, their purpose can be found in a creative field, and they’ll feel like it’s what they were meant to do.


You might not know what your purpose is at the moment, but what you can do is look at what makes you feel emotionally charged in a positive way.

If your creative endeavors bring happiness to others and make you feel fulfilled, then that’s a clue you can use toward defining your purpose in life.

It doesn’t have to be just one thing. You can have multiple interests that serve as your purpose. If you can spend hour upon hour doing something and it never feels like work, that’s a good indicator that it could be a fitting purpose for you.

You can also look at the things that make you upset. For example, if you can’t stand to see people struggling financially, this could be an avenue where you find your purpose.

You may feel strongly about helping those people get their lives back on track. A purpose for this could be as a crisis counselor for the homeless, an entrepreneurial leader, therapist, or a counselor.

Your purpose doesn’t necessarily have to be a job. It can be whatever moves you to act, including volunteering. Some people just want to have a purpose for life in general. Others feel strongly about wanting to build a business around it.

That might be you, but you’re feeling frustrated because you don’t have any direction.

It is purpose that fuels the decisions you need to make. Ask yourself why you want to pursue a degree, start a business, or move to another country. Once you uncover your why, you can start to take steps to live out your purpose.

Many people struggle with figuring out what they are good at, where their innate talents are, what makes them happy, how they can make a living utilizing those strengthens, and what they should do.

People of all ages, and at all levels of achievement, struggle with how to figure out their purpose. 

Are you one of those who struggle with the concept? Here’s something to help: I recently took my strategic business planning process and turned it upside down to focus on creating a strategic plan for the people I knew who might benefit from having a path forward.

That is the 40-page workbook called Your Personal Strategic Plan. It is the companion workbook for the 2021 book, The 5 Minute Leadership Guide.

Your Personal Strategic plan is here for you, for free.

Please forward this email to anyone you think might benefit!


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