Purpose Statement

Why You Need a Purpose Statement – and How To Write Yours

Last month, I wrote about knowing your “why.”  Knowing your why is crucial to anything you do.

It can help:

  • Inspire you to remain focused on what’s really important
  • Deepen your capacity for meaningful introspection
  • Guide you to set intentions which will help you become all that you are meant to be
  • Help you make decisions more effectively – and mindfully
  • Save you time and energy by avoiding wasted effort on meaningless things
  • Help you create much more joy, fulfillment and, yes, purpose in your life

The deeper we can get down on the “why” scale, the better. “Getting ahead”, for example, will only keep us like a hamster in a wheel.

“Helping women leaders over 40 understand their innate worth”, however, will help us to narrow down our activities to those helping move this “why” forward.

Purpose StatementOne concrete way to get crystal clear on our why is to have a purpose statement.

This is different than a mission statement.

Forbes contributor Steve Cooper makes the analogy of your purpose being like your guiding light when the going gets tough. He also makes an important distinction between your personal purpose and a business mission:

“It might be easy to understand that your business mission is to create a suite of apps that will help educate children, but that doesn’t answer the question of why you are doing it.

What’s your personal mission?”

-Steve Cooper

The Oxford Dictionary refers to “purpose” as “The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” In other words, your purpose is very closely linked with your “why”.

A brief history on personal purpose statements…

Decades ago, the renowned author Stephen Covey recommended that we create a “purpose statement” as part of his now infamous 7 Habits of Highly Successful People –specifically, Habit #2: begin with the end in mind.

Covey observed that people were working harder and harder without enjoying the fruits of their efforts. Why? A deficiency of clarity and vision. He compared this to “pushing a rope with all of their might.”

How many times have we done the same? Pushing and pushing, like being on a continuous treadmill – thinking we are taking all the right actions and yet wondering why we are still so unhappy.

It’s because either we are doing the right things for the wrong reasons or because we are doing the wrong things. Either way, when we are not clear on our purpose, things get all muddled up in our heads and we begin living someone else’s life – or, at least, the life we think we are supposed to be living according to society’s or someone else’s standards.

We have forgotten who we are and why we are here.Purpose Statement

Purpose statements can help with that.

Today, some of the world’s most powerful leaders use purpose statements to set the stage for greater alignment with self, for growth and ultimately, for higher levels of success and fulfillment.

Here are some sample purpose statements from well-known business leaders, courtesy of this Fast Company article:

Sir Richard Branson, founder of The Virgin Group:

“To have fun in [my] journey through life and learn from [my] mistakes.”

Oprah Winfrey, founder of OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network:

“To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.”

Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Company:

“To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference.”

A purpose statement isn’t set in stone – a ‘one and done’ exercise. In fact, your purpose statement is meant to be revisited, revised…and sometimes entirely re-written. As you transform and understand more about yourself, so, too will your purpose statement evolve!

To take more of a hand in your own evolution, please sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.