“If your life was a book and you were the author,” Amy Purdy asks, “how would you want your story to go?”
Before Amy danced her way into the hearts of America on Dancing With the Stars or won a bronze medal in snowboarding at the Sochi Paralympic Games, she shared her story in a TED talk called Living Beyond Limits.
Although she lost both of her legs below the knee when she was 19, she was determined to redefine her purpose on her own terms. “Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by the choices we make,” Amy insists. “Our borders and our obstacles can only do two things: stop us in our tracks or force us to get creative.”
A personal purpose statement defines who you are. It reflects your passions and values. It provides clarity as you set goals. Your sense of purpose steers how you want your story to go.
When a student composes a purpose statement for a research paper, he briefly summarizes his specific topic and goals that support his point of view. The statement provides direction and reveals the paper’s focus. Similarly, when you create a personal purpose statement, you clearly reveal who you are, what you want to do, and why you want to do it.
A personal purpose statement is no more than one or two sentences. It is specific and clear. It is aligned with your core values.
Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, insisted that a personal purpose statement (or, as he called it, a definite chief aim) created a firm foundation of success. He maintained, “What a different story men would have to tell if only they would adopt a definite purpose and stand by that purpose until it had time to become an all-consuming obsession!”
A personal purpose statement simplifies your direction – your goals will either align with your definite major purpose or it doesn’t. Goals without a purpose statement are like arrows without a target. Examples of powerful personal purpose statements include:
I serve others as a visionary leader and apply ethical principles in management to make a significant difference in the world.
My purpose is to build a bridge of understanding and be a tower of integrity to others as a speaker, writer, and entrepreneur.
And my personal purpose statement:
I prepare youth to be leaders and adults to be mentors and role models.
Consider the following suggestions as you compose your own personal purpose statement:
1. Brainstorm: Allow time for quiet reflection to think about the following questions:
How do I want to make a difference in the world?
How do I want to be remembered?
What kind of legacy do I want to leave behind?
2. Compose Your First Draft: Use your answers to these questions to guide your writing:
Who am I?
What do I do?
Who do I do it for?
What do they want or need?
How are they changed?
Give yourself permission to write your purpose statement without making corrections. Don’t over-analyze it. Over-thinking the writing process can freeze your thoughts and hand into paralysis. Write something. Edit later.
3. Choose Words that Reflect Positive Action: Instead of stating what you want to avoid, choose words that are positive and reflect what you want to be, do, and experience.
4. Write in Present Tense: You purpose statement is a reflection of who you are and what you bring to the world – beginning today. Focus your intention on what you envision for your life. Describe the personal mark you want to make on this planet. State it in present tense (“I am,” “I do;” not “I will.”).
5. Revise Your Statement: Your purpose statement is a work in progress. Sometimes when you write and step away from the project, words flow easily to you after you return to your work. As you make time to edit your personal purpose statement, you will find words that clearly reflect what you want to express.
6. Sign It: Allow a space for your signature at the bottom of your purpose statement. A signature reflects commitment to your words. As a result, you will make choices that align with your purpose statement and, consequently, your goals.
7. Display It: Frame or display your personal purpose statement in a place where you will see it.
The daily reminder of seeing, reading, reflecting upon, and internalizing your personal purpose statement becomes a directional compass that will guide your words, actions, decisions, and behaviors. A personal purpose statement steers your talent, determination, and commitment into a specific direction.
Amy Purdy adds, “When we embrace the things that make us unique, our true and remarkable capabilities are revealed.” As you write a personal purpose statement, you will discover your true and remarkable capabilities are waiting to embark on the exciting journey with you.
What is your personal purpose statement?
Recognize common patterns that cross your awareness with suggestions from 7 Ways to Recognize Your Calling.
Align your goals and your purpose statement with these tips from How to Write SMART Personal Goals.
Unsure about your purpose? Create an Awesome Vision Board and watch your passion and purpose come to life!