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What Is Your Purpose In Life? (Real Examples Of Others)


Having a purpose in life is one of the fundamental factors of happiness. Without it, you'll live your life less focused, less efficient and you'll often feel restless and stressed because you don't feel aligned with the things you do. This article is about different purposes in life, with actual examples and how you can define your purpose in life.

What are some examples of a purpose in life? There are a lot of commonly known purposes in life, like:

  • Providing for your family
  • Living a successful life
  • Making positive connections with others and enjoying those around you
  • Traveling the world
  • Fighting the declining condition of our planet
  • Etc

But what is your purpose? You can't just copy & paste one of these purposes and call it a day. You have to find your own purpose in life. In this article, I will show you how to discover and define your purpose in life, with actual examples of people that I've asked.

What is my purpose in life?

What is my purpose in life?

This question is very common but makes you think about what you truly want. Answers are usually a variation or combination of the following:

  • Success
  • Feeling loved
  • Having a positive impact on the lives of others
  • To be happy
  • Fortune

If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking: “I want everything you just said!” And without giving more thought to this question, you might plan out your life to be a successful and rich person with a huge positive impact on the world.

Because that sounds like a good purpose, right?

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Why it's important to truly discover your purpose

So here you are. You have a purpose "to become a successful and rich person with a huge positive impact on the world".

You've written it down in your journal as one of your goals, and off you go.

Fast forward 10 years:

Let's imagine you're now successful and rich and have a huge influence on the world. You have spent your early years building a company that develops - say - portable toilets, that people in poor countries can use. Your company makes a nice profit, and people all around the world look up to you because you seem to be successful, rich, and have a positive influence on the world.

You now check all the boxes of what you thought your purpose in life was 10 years ago.

But are you happy? No. Because in the process of fulfilling your life purpose, you've had to sacrifice other things, like:

  • Dating and finding a loving partner.
  • Spending time with your family.
  • Going on holidays with your friends.
  • Getting kids.
  • Traveling the world.
  • Running a marathon.
  • Etc.

Even though your purpose in life wasn't necessarily a bad purpose, there's one problem with it: it wasn't YOUR purpose in life. Maybe your purpose in life was to simply build a loving family and to be happy?

That's why it's extremely important to discover your own purpose in life!

Discovering your purpose in life

People don't wake up one day and have a "eureka" moment and suddenly know what their purpose in life is. No, you have to discover your purpose by trial and error.

So how do you discover your purpose? Not by sitting in a chair by the window. You find it by doing things and taking action.

What's important here is that you try new things. If you haven't yet discovered your purpose in life, then you are not going to find it by trying the same things over and over again.

It's also important to know that your purpose in life and your job are not the same things. Too many people look for a job that is simultaneously something that can fill their purpose in life. A very small percentage of people find actual purpose in the work they do.

For example, I personally have a very simple purpose in life, and it has got nothing to do with my work! That's not to say that I hate my work, I just don't regard it as something I'm passionate about.

Long story short: you have to discover your purpose in life by trying out new things. If you feel like you haven't yet found your purpose in life, that means you need to try something new that sparks your interest again.

woman balancing yoga exercising smiling

Defining your purpose in life

You can't copy & paste somebody else's purpose in life and expect to be happy by doing the same things.

No, you have to define your purpose.

Just as much as happiness is something that's unique for every single person, the purpose of life differs from person to person.

Elon Musk's purpose in life might be to develop futuristic ideas into reality, while your purpose can be to just provide the best life to your family and children.

Copy & pasting the purpose of somebody that you respect and like will probably leave you unhappy and unfulfilled. For example, I think Elon Musk is doing spectacular things, but I wouldn't be happy if I were in his shoes. My purpose in life is wildly different from his!

I have defined my own purpose in life, and I advise you to do the same!

Examples of life purpose statements

Even though you have to define your own purpose in life, it's still interesting to read about other people's purposes. That's why I've asked around to include examples of life purpose statements in this article.

I don't want you to copy and paste these life purposes and make them your own. I only want to show you how diversified life purpose statements can be!

Here are actual examples of life purpose statements of the people I asked!

"My purpose in life is to solve problems by changing the status quo"

You will love the story of how Michael Arnold found his purpose in life. This is a great example of how straightforward your purpose in life can be.

I don’t remember my grandpa, he passed when I was 9 months old but I sat on his knee while Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. I always wanted to be an astronaut even studying Astronomy, Geology and Physics in high school.

But when I checked into the requirements of becoming an astronaut, I realized I had been lied to... I was told work hard and you can reach your dreams.

But there it was in black and white, maximum height 6’1”! I was 6’4”! I couldn’t be 3” shorter.

So, I decided to become an engineer and build taller spaceships, discovering my new purpose solving problems by changing the status quo.

"My purpose in life is making positive connections with others and enjoying those around you"

I got cancer age 30 and am currently grappling with this question. My focus has completely shifted and I feel like the whole point of my life now is just 2 simple things:

This is what a Redditor answered when asked about her purpose in life. The first simple thing that she recognized:

Making positive connections with others and enjoying those around you. It is a lot easier to sit on the couch and watch a feel-good show than it is to go have dinner with your in-laws when you are tired - but what is the point in sitting there watching TV? We all waste way too much time doing crap like that. Better to build meaningful connections while you can. There are millions of super isolated people in the world as well who would kill to have someone to have dinner with.

The second purpose of her life is:

Squeezing every bit of enjoyment out of life. I need to walk home - I can either take the subway for 5 minutes underground or I can walk 30 minutes through a park and tree-lined streets and truly enjoy it.. maybe get an ice cream on the way. I'd pick the fast way every time before, now I'm constantly looking for the most enjoyable route instead.

"My purpose in life is to teach other parents of kids with ADHD how to positively parent to help their kids"

My oldest (who are 18 and 21) were really difficult kids. I didn't know until they were about 10 years old that they had ADHD. I probably made every parenting mistake possible as a result. It wasn't easy. I became a therapist and as a result, specialized in ADHD, specifically in parenting.

This is the story of Merriam Saunders, who found her own purpose in life is helping other parents deal with ADHD.

What I realized was that by constantly reprimanding my own children for behavior outside their control, I was ruining their self-esteem and leaving them (and, frankly, me) feeling like failures. Instead of asking them to change, I needed to ask it of myself. I changed my parenting approach to one of finding the things they were doing right, scaffolding the things they weren't, and letting them make mistakes without shame. We became a happier family for it, and they are now well adjusted and academically succeeding.

"My purpose in life is to make things"

This idea was the center of my thoughts for the past few years. And I did a lot of testing out who I was and what I wanted out of life. Trying on different careers and always second guessing myself. And I was struggling and unhappy and went through a lot of different situations to figure this out. Find a career, find a partner, find something else to fill the void in my life.

This is the story of another Redditor. This shows that a purpose in life doesn't have to be sophisticated or impressive. We don't need to one-up each other with a bigger and better purpose. You need to find what your own purpose is. What makes you happy?

The example continues:

But the idea of making things was always there. Even as a kid just fucking around or even when I was at my most depressed as an adult. I always turned to making things.

Make ceramics, make sculptures, make music, make a garden, make good food, make a book, make my own clothes. Make something that didn’t exist.

I make things because that’s how I understand myself in this world. It soothes me. It shows me that I’m strong. It comforts me, in a mental and physical sense. It makes me proud and it makes me happy.

It’s simple, but it seems to be the one true thread in my life that makes absolute sense. And it’s a path I can follow without doubting myself.

"My purpose in life is to use my writing to better the world"

For a class in high school we had to write a mission statement for our lives. Mine was simple: to use my writing to better the world. And I have tried to live up to that. I have written about the environment, diversity and bullying as well as a host of other topics. But I was happiest when I wrote something that addressed a problem and even happier when I would get feedback saying that my writing touched someone.

This is the story of Walter Meyer, who is an author and speaks about anti-bullying. His purpose has slowly changed into something broader. This shows that we don't have a single purpose in life, but that it is something that evolves as we grow and try out new things in life.

Like this:

A few years ago, I fell into a part-time job working for a nonprofit. At times, the job has gotten in the way of my writing, but I also know I am making a difference in my community and getting kudos for it. So I slightly modified my life mission statement: to better the world.

I still write and use that as a major tool, but I teach, put on seminars and exhibits and other events to educate the public. I am at my happiest when I am doing what I love, getting paid for it, and getting feedback saying I am doing the right thing. We only have a limited amount of time in life so I want to make the most of my years. And because any of us might go tomorrow, I would like to think that I have left a mark in many lives and will leave my little corner of the world better than I found it.

"My purpose in life is to empower myself to empower others"

As a recovering perfectionist, anxiety warrior, and depression fighter, my purpose in life is to empower myself to empower others. I define my purpose in life as a continual journey of becoming the best possible version of myself. By doing this, I can help other people become the best possible version of themselves.

This is the story of Nicole, who reached out to me with her life purpose example. I personally feel connected to her purpose in life, as I am also constantly looking to be the best version of myself.

"My life doesn't have a purpose, and I don't want it to"

My life doesnt have a purpose, and I don't want it to. A purpose puts too much pressure on me. I just want to be able to say I lived a happy, ethical, and compassionate life. If I do, then I will have hopefully improved the world for a few people, animals, and the planet. That is what really matters, I think.

This is another interesting take on a purpose in life by a Redditor. Instead of having a clearly defined purpose, she'd much rather like to be happy above anything else. She continues:

I see too many people driving themselves mad trying to change the world. They put all their happiness on the line for their "purpose" and end up miserable. Too many people want to be remembered after they die, but I don't care because I don't think it really matters. I'll be dead so I will have no idea if people remember me! So I just focus on being a happy, good person, because I am the only thing I can truly control. 🙂

This last example is actually pretty funny when you think of it. Why would I include it in this article, if it directly seems to counter the point that I'm trying to make?

Well, maybe this article is not so much about finding a purpose, but more about finding things in life that make you the happiest you can be.

These examples have shown you that the following things can be seen as a purpose in life:

  • Solving problems by thinking outside the box.
  • Make positive connections with others and enjoy those around you.
  • Teaching other parents how to deal with ADHD.
  • Making things.
  • Leaving the world a better place.
  • Empowering others.
  • Providing for your family.
  • Living a successful life.

But these things can all be thought of as things that simply make you a happier person.

Happiness is a purpose

You see, these purposes in our lives are only there because we have reason to believe that we’ll be happy when we either:

  • Chase these purposes, or...
  • Reach these purposes.

Before I started to track my happiness, I wanted – among others – to become rich and financially free. Why? Because I was working a job that I absolutely hated.

During the last 5 years, my happiness has moved quite a bit (this is an understatement). Throughout this time, I constantly forced myself to think about these questions:

  • What is my purpose in life?
  • What makes me happy?

I’ve learned that it’s not so much that I wanted to be rich. I just wanted to not have to work a job that I didn’t like. Instead of focusing on a vague pipedream (quitting my horrible job with enough money in the bank), I focused on actively steering my life in the best direction right away.

What did I do?

  • I steered my career in a different direction.
  • I focused on being happy now, instead of only planning for my future happiness.

A fun example:

When my girlfriend and I were in a bad long-distance relationship, I noticed that running long distances made me extremely happy. On a whim, I signed up for a marathon that was just 3 weeks away. Running a marathon had always been on my bucket list, but it was only when I re-evaluated my happiness that I decided to be bold.

3 weeks later, I crossed the finish line feeling broken, shattered, and physically dead.

Was it the smartest decision I ever made? Probably not, but I still did it. The result? Running long distances is still something that I dearly love, here is the proof.

The point of this story is – and this is where I might sound cheesy – that it’s truly the journey that matters much more than the destination. You can spend your whole life working towards something that you think you want (a so-called purpose), while you should really focus on being happy now!

Life is just too short to only focus on eventually reaching that purpose. You have to start focusing on your happiness now. Do more of what makes you happy now.

With all that out of the way: here's my purpose in life

My purpose in life is to live a long and happy life.

Sounds cheesy and anti-climatic? Maybe, but here's the thing:

Everything that I do is a result of my purpose in life. There are a lot of other things that I feel are part of my purpose in life, like:

  • Making others happy.
  • Making the world a better place.
  • Spending as much time as possible with the people I love.
  • Challenging myself intellectually and physically.

But I only truly care about these things because they will eventually result in my main purpose, and that is to live a long and happy life. If you're wondering, this is how I try to be as happy as possible every single day of my life.

Purpose in life FAQ

What is a purpose in life?

It's what drives you to wake up every day. Everybody's purpose in life is different. Answers are usually a variation of the following: Success, feeling loved, having a positive impact on the lives of others, to be happy, or finding fortune.

How do I find my purpose in life?

What’s important here is that you try new things. If you haven’t yet discovered your purpose in life, then you are not going to find it by trying the same things over and over again.

Can your purpose in life change?

A life purpose can (and probably will) change many times over your life. For some people, this means that whatever got you motivated and inspired yesterday might not provide you with the same itch tomorrow.

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Closing words

This may not be the climax you were hoping for after reading this entire article, but it's the way I feel. I hope I have at least shown you multiple aspects of this purpose in life. If you now have a better idea of how you can discover and define your own purpose, then I have reached my goal!

Now, I want to hear from you! Do you want to share your purpose in life? Do you feel like you don't have a purpose in life? Do you disagree with something I said in this article?

I'd love to hear more from you in the comments!

Hugo
Founder of Tracking Happiness

Founder of Tracking Happiness and lives in the Netherlands. Ran 5 marathons, with one of them in under 4 hours (3:59:58 to be exact). Data junkie and happiness tracker for over 7 years.

73 thoughts on “What Is Your Purpose In Life? (Real Examples Of Others)”

  1. thank you so much
    this article help me realize who I am
    and also it helps me remember of what destiny or path
    would I choose.

    Reply
  2. Thanks a lot, Hugo. The article has helped me so much. I'd been questioned so often by my wife, what's my purpose in life, and I'd always stammer to answer. Because my answer seems so absurd, "to be kind and happy in every situation and to be beneficial for plant, animal, and humankind." We are now in a condition where humans only think about their interests, and it often comes at the expense of plants and animals. I want to make a better world for my kids and the next generations.

    Reply
    • That is wonderful, and I'm happy this article helped you find your answer.

      I absolutely agree with you that human nature is to think about ourselves, our own circle of influence. In order to create a sustainable world for future generations, we might need to adjust this behavior.

      Reply
  3. Thanks Hugo for the useful post.
    For the past few months I have been wondering about my purpose in life.
    After reading your article, I have realized many interesting things about life purpose and solved my anxiety.
    I think my life purpose is that I will live happily, live each day to the fullest, and pursue my goals.
    From Vietnam.

    Reply
  4. Dear Hugo,

    We are happy to know that you are helping the global community in finding their purpose of life. The highlight of the article for me is the perspective of others about their purpose of life.

    We were already in search of purpose of life and we are getting closer to it day by day. We also signed up for the free course today (6th Feb 2022) and it happens to be my birthday as well.

    We will share our purpose once we figure it out... We are using the model of IKIGAI (Reason for being) to figure out our purpose. The research has shown that the work carried out in the area of your passion adds eight hours of joy, and it has a trickle down effect as well. The passion of a person coupled with the activities that a person loves to do to address the worldly needs results in identifying the purpose...

    We are exploring & introspecting more to reach out to a good starting point of our journey towards our purpose of life...

    We appreciate your help in our quest to find out our purpose and your contribution to the community is an inspiration to us...

    Warm Regards
    Rajkumar & Family

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for taking the time to send this comment! It's really appreciated, and I'm very happy to hear that our work is helpful to you! Looking forward to hearing more from you!

      Hugo

      Reply
  5. Wow, this is really an amazing article. Really I feel that I have found something which I lost since years ago.

    My purpose was always in front of my eyes and u was always looking for it. Simply "I want to create things that makes me and people around happy"

    I read too many books but I was always copy and paste purposes and all were waste of time and energy for none.

    Now I really have eyes open to new chapter of my life.

    Thanks alot Hugo

    Reply
  6. I was diagnosed with severe depression (GDD) and anxiety (GAD) a few months ago. Not knowing head or tail about what that meant, I spent hours reading online to understand why I felt so negative (and still do).
    I am what one would consider successful (I have a master's degree, work in a growing Big Tech startup, married to a supportive spouse, I'm a homeowner etc.). But I am NOT happy, because I don't have a purpose. I question myself to the point that it interferes with my daily routine.
    Would love to hear others' experiences of going through such a thing, and how they worked themselves out of it.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing, Vidya. I hope the examples in this article have given you some inspiration, to see how others struggle with finding purpose as well.

      All the best,

      Hugo

      Reply
  7. Thank you. Glad I came across this writeup which is thought-provoking. I like this concept of happiness tracker. Will be in touch to enhance my thought process and discover myself 🙂

    Reply
  8. This is great! Thank you so much for sharing. I think I get a lot of ideas for my own purpose in life for which I am seeking.

    Wish you a great happy life and journey!

    Phong

    Reply
      • All these years, I've been searching for my purpose, never knowing it has been at my front and I've been staring vaguely at it, while looking around still searching for it.
        With this article, I just discovered my purpose.
        I'm born to serve by making people happy.
        Ever since I was young, I've always served as a Leader and fact is that I'm always remembered even till date at my service there.
        I do think of things on my own on how to help people out in any group I find myself and I get to make alot of people happy while receiving lots of appreciation and prayers. Deep down, I do feel really happy and accomplished.
        This is indeed my purpose.
        Thank you so much Hugo for this.
        God bless you.

        Reply
  9. This is what i am searching for, exact word by word i want to understand for what i have taken birth in this world. Thanks for this article, feeling like i have achieved milestone in my life.
    My propose is " I want to be the reason of the happiness for the people in and around me".
    I love talking, connecting, helping others these qualities make me happy and feel will help me to serve my purpose of making others happy.

    Reply

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