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Living Purposefully

Living Purposefully

Close up of old English dictionary page with word purpose

Are you purposeful in your life?


Do you act with intention making the best use of your time every day?


Do you just drift, simply running between activities never considering why you are doing what you’re doing?


Since the release of Simon Sinek’s famous book ‘Start with Why’ many years ago, the concept of defining a purpose for your life seems to have grown into an unhealthy fixation for many as they seek to find greater meaning for their existence.

“I don’t feel like I have a purpose.”

This is what I’ve heard from many people as they describe the weight of expectation they feel for needing some type of definition for what they are going to do with their lives.

‘Purpose in’ rather than ‘Purpose for’

When exploring the concept of purpose with people, I will openly admit that I’m not a fan of encouraging people to find some type of grand purpose for their existence. Why? Because too often people feel the pressure to define this as some form of world changing purpose that is too far from the realities of their everyday life.

Don’t get me wrong, I have met many people who do have a purpose for their life which compels them to focus their energy on improving the quality of life for others or on saving the planet in some meaningful way. For most people however, the mere contemplation of such a focus leaves them feeling overwhelmed and anxious at their inability to live up to such lofty expectations.

To avoid creating this sense of anxiety in people, whilst simultaneously helping them live in a more purposeful way, I focus on helping people to hold the perspective of finding ‘purpose in’ life rather than ‘purpose for’ life. What this means in practice is helping them to act more intentionally across all the aspects of their life where the direction for that intention is toward the positive impact they wish to have.

Paradox of Purpose

When considering how to live with greater purpose by having a more positive impact across the aspects of our life, there is a simple yet powerful concept we can employ called the ‘Paradox of Purpose’.

A paradox is quite simply defined as two conflicting truths. That is, in any moment both sides can simultaneously be true. The two sides of the Paradox of Purpose are that living with greater purpose is selfish, whilst at the same time it can only be fulfilled through being selfless.

What this means in practice is that simply that living with greater purpose is a selfish act because through fulfilling that purpose we achieve a greater sense of satisfaction and fulfilment. However, and here’s where the paradox kicks in, living with greater purpose is only possible if we selflessly focus on making a more positive contribution to those people around us.

Discovering Purpose

“So how do I live with greater purpose in my life?” is what I was asked last week during a coaching session.

To embrace the power of the Paradox of Purpose, using it to discover a greater sense of purpose in life there are three simple steps:

Define your Impact – across the various aspects of your life consider what impact you want to have. Regardless of whether this relates to your family, social circle, or work, consider the positive difference you want to make in these contexts. It could be as simple as being a good colleague or helping a friend to secure the job they’ve been wanting. Ultimately it is about being conscious about how you want to make those situations better for others.

Act with Mindful Intention – against your defined impact, be intentional about where you invest your time and energy. This starts with asking yourself ‘what will help me create the impact I desire?’ Through this question you can then be deliberate about the action you take and then be mindful about when you might be drifting from this intention.

Reflect and Adjust – through acting with mindful intention there will undoubtedly be moments where you are not fulfilling the sense of purpose you desire to adopt. By catching yourself in these moments you can reflect on where you are investing your energy and what you might do differently moving forward.

Purposefulness is a Choice

Whether you like it or not, living with purpose is a choice. Therefore if you yearn for greater meaning in your life, including feeling more fulfilled, then perhaps focusing purpose ‘in life’, rather than purpose ‘for life’, is a great place to start.


If you would like some support finding purpose ‘in’ your life, contact to set up a free call.