12 Most Emboldened Questions to Live Life on Purpose

12 Most Emboldened Questions to Live Life on Purpose

Forget about foreplay. Let’s go straight to it: why are you here? Here in this world?

This is no attempt to have a philosophical conversation. Nor is it an attempt to spread metaphysical platitudes. I ask you this question with my two feet planted firmly on the ground, head NOT in the clouds.

See in our hyper-connected world distractions are plentiful. At stake is your clarity on the work you want to do. At stake is your purpose lost in the fuzziness of a splintered attention span. Each of us has the capacity to create a life fueled by our passions. Yet it’s more than that. It’s a life fueled by our passions where we are removed from the center of our life. Only then can you clearly see the purpose unfold before you.

To help you see clearly or refine your already-known purpose, I offer these 12 questions to support your pursuit of living life on purpose.

1. What are you for?

It’s easier to say what we’re against. But what about what you stand for? Would you like to be known as someone who attracts people because of your belief in the possibility of something?

2. For whom do you live?

Purpose that I’m writing about is not self-serving. We’ve seen the manifestations of such ways of living from the Bernie Madoffs and Rob Blagojevichs To know your purpose is to be impassioned by doing work that in some way, big or small, makes things better for others, not for yourself.

3. What are your guides?

What personal values guide you? Knowing your personal values, not just at the gut level, guides you through the times when its tempting to abandon doing what’s needed over what you feel.

4. What engages your imagination?

Reflect back on work you’ve done. What captured your imagination? What freed you up to try something new? Purpose can be found in unlikely places or obvious ones.

5. Abundance or scarcity?

A mentality that seeks abundance is dramatically different from one of scarcity. Abundant mentality seeks to make things greater, multiply. Scarcity mentality looks at the world through the lens of what’s missing, not enough, sees impossibilities first. The latter stops us from moving forward. Purpose is motion. Abundance is a vital input.

6. What are you willing to do without?

Earlier I mentioned doing what’s needed, not what you feel. Living life on purpose makes going without or doing what’s needed easier to accept. It’s the small sacrifices to the bigger picture and greater needs of others.

7. How often do you connect with others?

We are wired to connect with people. Though some of us, myself included, have a preference towards introversion, to accomplish things in this world requires collaboration, friendships, partnerships. Insulating ourselves from others limits living on purpose.

8. What do you expect from yourself?

This question is a bit of a slippery slope. If you are a perfectionist, expectations of yourself may not be realistic. If you have little to no self-esteem, your self-expectations are likely underestimated. If you over estimate your abilities you can likely over commit and minimize your capacity.To uphold expectations that impel you to align with your purpose, either your drive must be clearly defined and/or you surround yourself with people who don’t let dysfunction limit you. See #7. By the way, we all have limiting beliefs that influence our own expectations

9. What do you believe about people?

A little investigation into how you perceive people may be necessary to find and live life on purpose. If you believe people can’t be trusted, it will be difficult to live a purpose designed to make things better for people. If you believe people can choose to do good, then it’s a bit easier. Your answer to this self-inquiry will let you know if you need to spend time with this question or not.

10. What if you weren’t afraid?

Perhaps a bit of a Hallmark-esque question. Never the less, it’s a gut level check to see where you are emotionally to take on living life on purpose. Purposeful living comes with risk and could open you up to ridicule. It may even require you to restructure your life. This question helps you look into the spaces that may be unpleasant, an important step to living life on purpose.

11. What’s possible?

When we do team work with clients, one of the questions we ask during the assessment phase is “what’s possible if we can get out of our own way?” What I like about the question is it gives the mind room to look above the trees and see the whole forest. What’s possible for you with the purpose you are considering?

12. How white are your knuckles?

Admittedly I’m a bit of a control freak. I work very diligently to curb the destructive aspects of this character trait. One such aspect is gripping on to an idea or approach so intently my knuckles are white. Metaphorically, this image is to show that clinging dearly to something limits our perspective. We cannot be in control over everything. Sometimes we have to let go to see what’s possible. See #11. This is a tough one. Loosening the grip does get a little easier with practice.

To live life on purpose is to heed a calling that makes things better for others.

I believe the pursuit to understand your purpose never ends. It’s a boundless pursuit. Whether you’ve aligned your life to your purpose or still seek an answer, the above 12 questions invite you to look deeper into the impression you leave in this world. To look deeper into how you rise above the noise.

Have I thought of all the questions? No way. What question would you add?

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Featured image courtesy of PeraltaC775 via Creative Commons.

Shawn Murphy


Shawn Murphy is founder and president of Achieved Strategies. He works with organizations helping leaders bring out the best in their people during times of change and through leadership development. His purpose is to help organizations restore optimism in the workplace and to work with leaders to lead in the 21st century. When not working, he blogs at Switch and Shift on topics to help leaders inspire optimism and New Era Leadership. He’s a coffee addict. Music fiend. Dry humorists. Movie junkie. Wannabe painter/artist. He’s working on his first book.

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Thank you for a tremendously helpful post. Your questions are amazingly useful in sorting out what is important in our lives.

In today's world where so many seek to start businesses, these questions help us define the "why" of our lives so that our businesses reflect what we so often call our "passions". For baby boomers who are aspiring to become entrepreneurs during the encore stages of life, these questions help shape meaning.

Thank you for a wonderful contribution.


Great questions to ponder, Shawn - the kind that help guide all of us along that very important journey of learning to be ourselves, better. Rather than adding questions to your list, I'm going to read them again.


Enjoyed the read, Shawn. I think I've asked myself all of these questions at some point. However, I've always been lucky to be "comfortable in my own skin". Not perfect, have warts, but I know who I love, and I know I'm not interested in keeping up with the Joneses. Work hard at what I do, and observe the outcome. If I fail, but want it badly, then work harder until succeed. Otherwise, chalk it up as experience and reset expectations ;)


Thanks, Shawn! Inspiring. My knuckles have been unbelievably white - and sometimes still are. Thanks for this beautiful reminder to find and focus on our purpose.


@JohnRichardBell John, I'm honored that you stopped by and shared your thoughts. Our journeys are better in company. There is great company here. Thank you for being part of it.


@AprilLynneScott April, I'm constantly practicing to let go. Recognizing the white knuckle grip is easy. Sure is much harder to do something about loosening and letting go. Oh how life teaches us many insights about ourselves.