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Purpose of "Purpose" in Finding Meaning in Later Life

Posted Sep 12 2008 2:06pm

Purpose is our reason for being. We all have a sense within us about our life's calling. Most of us don't look for it, listen to it, or act on it . Once we discover our purpose, though, it directs and energizes us.

Richard J. Leider, principal of the Inventure Group, wrote The Power of Purpose: Creating Meaning in Your Life and Work. There he takes us through practical steps for finding and actualizing our purpose, so central to our experiencing meaning in our lives.

Each of us, he wrote, wants to contribute, to leave a footprint of having been on this earth. It defines our legacy. Even homeless people, he found, have this need.

To act on our life's purpose, we combine a need we see in the world with our special gifts...this is our calling. To follow our calling gives us a sense of joy and aliveness. Purpose moves attention away from ourselves to others.

By living our purpose, we eliminate the useless clutter of experiences that do not support our calling. It gives us more laser-like energy to pursue what matters most. It gives us intense clarity about what's important.

This process forces us to confront our values. As we age, we are apt to question our purpose and to re-direct it. Each transition to a new stage of life comes with uncertainty, a quest, a new question to be answered, Leider writes. He helpfully includes short questionnaires to stimulate our quest. Here's part of one example about "Working on Purpose:"

  • Do I wake up most Mondays feeling energized to go to work?
  • Do I have a personal calling for my work?
  • Am I clear how I measure my success?
  • Do I use my gifts to add real value to people's lives?

How would you respond to these questions? If in negative terms, what are you prepared to do to change that now?

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