“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”- Dalai Lama
A couple of years ago I was working so much I forgot about my health, family and friends. Somewhere along the road of shooting to become a successful business owner I lost track of what was most important. My dream somehow turned into a reality of being stressed out, overweight and unhappy. It finally hit me…
Work had become my life’s purpose.
Like so many other business owners, I started my business for a chance at freedom and opportunity to be the master of my own destiny. I had visions of success and money, and with that I believed I could one day finally be happy.
But the reality was I was not happy. I was miserable.
I won’t bore you with business concepts, but there is one important concept I learned that changed my life and I want to share it with you.
All great companies have four things: purpose, vision, mission and core values.
I asked myself, why can’t I apply these ideas to my life? So I did, and here’s how you can apply it to yours.
Your life’s purpose is the reason why you exist. It’s the reason for being.
Let me ask you again, because it’s in my humble opinion, the most important question you could ever ask yourself – why do you exist?
In the past, if you asked me what my life’s purpose was- I would have told you it was to make lots of money. Believe me, there’s nothing wrong with making money, but for myself, I finally realized it was not the reason why I exist. It was only an enabler at best.
Finding your life’s purpose is very much about finding yourself. Life with a purpose drives you when you wake up each morning. But figuring it out takes time. After pondering and pondering with no answer, I finally asked myself the following questions:
- What do I really want?
- What makes me happy?
- What gives me peace of mind and fulfills me inside?
Then all of a sudden it hit me! My life’s purpose was simply to be happy.
With this new found realization, I knew this was the beginning of a new life. Now the question was what does being happy actually look like?
Your vision is what your life looks like when you achieve your life’s purpose.
Your vision should define your life’s purpose in detail. It is the manifestation of your purpose. In terms of goals, these are your Dream Goals – the biggest goals in your life. Think about it this way, if you cannot see it, how would you know if you were there? To help you see your vision, consider the following questions.
- What does it look like?
- What does it feel like?
- What are you doing?
- Who do you see?
- Where are you?
- What are your passions?
It took many weeks, but I eventually was able to define what happiness meant to me. I knew exactly how it looked and could describe it in detail.
My vision was to help people reach their goals and dreams, be a mom, enjoy every moment with my loved ones and give back the world.
That’s what being happy means to me. The next question was, how?
Your mission is how you fulfill your vision, and in turn, your purpose.
Think of your mission as a way to live your life, almost like a personal philosophy. It’s like a set of instructions that tells you how to do something. It’s supposed to be broad enough to give you room, but concise enough that you know exactly what you have to do each and every day. In terms of goals, these are your Now Goals – the goals you need to meet day in and day out.
Your mission aligns your daily life to your purpose. To figure out your mission, here are questions to ask:
- How do you reach your vision?
- How do you need to behave?
- What do you have to do every day?
- What should you not do?
- What obstacles will be in your way?
- How many options do you have?
I admit the questions above were difficult to answer. These were questions that would impact my life, and it was scary to know how many adjustments I needed to make in order to start living my life’s purpose. This was going to require me to change the way I worked and interacted with the world.
After many different versions of my mission I finally came up with one…
“Lead with my heart, make positive change in peoples’ lives and live gratefully every day.”
Your mission will keep you on track throughout the day – just remind yourself what your mission is when you get lost. For example, I have a tendency to let small worries turn into big worries that bring me down. So, when I feel myself getting derailed, I look to my mission and it reminds me to be grateful for everything in my life, big and small, which helps me refocus my energy and gets me back towards my life’s purpose.
Your values are the principles and ideals that define who you are.
Everyone has values. They’re typically single words that describe everything about who you are and what you stand for. Values are learned and have been inside you since the day you were born. You learn values from your family, friends, school, work, government, community and media.
Each person defines their values differently. Ask yourself these questions to help you figure out yours:
- What characteristics describe you as a person?
- Who are the people you love to work with?
- What people do you want to be like, and not like?
- What things in life will you not negotiate?
- What do you believe in?
- What makes you tick deep inside?
- What do you truly believe in?
As for myself, here are a few of mine: joyful, humble, real, dreamer, committed, loving, strong, happy and optimistic.
Finally, after many months, my life’s purpose, vision, mission and values were all on one page!
For the first time in a long time, I felt new again. I felt like the storm had cleared and everything that was dark and hazy was replaced with light and clarity.
Here are a few personal examples of how it has changed my life:
- When I wake up, instead of waiting for the day to be over I am eager to go make an impact.
- I look forward to seeing my loved ones instead of complaining why they want to hang out.
- When something doesn’t work out I know I will not give up because I have a purpose to pursue.
- When the world is pulling me in a million directions I look to my mission to get me back on track.
- When I get stuck in a difficult dilemma, I look to my values to determine the answer.
Living a life of purpose is a lifelong process.
As the Dalai Lama once said, “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”
And I agree because at the end of the day all we have left in life are our stories to tell.
What’s your life purpose and how are you going to get there?
Photo by Daniel Hsia