life purpose-finalI just watched a fascinating TedTalk/Malibu video by a guy named Adam Leipzig on “How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes.” The formula came to him after a revealing visit to his 25th college reunion.

After an evening of visiting with his Yale classmates on the lawn outside a noisy banquet hall, he was astonished to realize that about 80 percent of those he talked with were unhappy. Many confided that they felt they were wasting their lives and their lives were half over. Now these weren’t folks that were bad off, dejected or down-and-out. They were affluent, privileged, well-educated individuals! What’s up with that? And, why, more importantly, are you and I not surprised by this?

What Adam learned as the night progressed was the 20 percent that were happy fell mostly in the arts, literature, and history camp. In other words it was the geeks who studied things they loved for the love of learning it. They, of course, like all of us experienced life’s ups and downs but his sense from talking with the 20 percent crowd was that they lived expansively. They did what they loved and did not feel they had wasted a minute of their lives.

So basically the people that were happy and fulfilled with their lives were aligned with authentic self and knew their life purpose, and it boiled down to knowing just 5 things: 1.) Who they were, 2.) What they did, 3.) Who they did it for, 4.) What the people they served wanted or needed, and 5.) How the people they served were benefited or transformed by what they did for them.

These people got a strong satisfaction from life because they knew they were serving others, making a difference and how they were doing it each day. They were happy because they were making others happy. The formula above is powerful because three of the five questions are not about us but about the other. It is an outward-facing focus, not an inward self-centered life focus.

So in doing this 5-minute exercise take a minute on each of these questions:

  • Who are you? – This is a question to go deep within and ask “What are my unique talents, passions and values?”
  • What do you love to do? – What would you do even if there were no money involved?
  • For whom can you do that thing you love or do well?
  • What does that type person want or need?
  • And, how will they be changed or transformed by what you do?

After you do the exercise, you should be able to sum up your life’s purpose in one sentence, “I’m Sandra Bell and I write about transformative practices for people looking for more happiness, freedom and inner peace so that they will have a better life experience.” or “My name is Cynthia and I volunteer at a second-chance center for cats. I help them find a new and loving home with people that adore cats and love them as companions.” or “I’m Dave. I teach kids how to surf because it connects them with nature and gives them a sense of confidence, balance, freedom and connection in their formative years.”

So many times we struggle with this question of life purpose. Some look all their lives for it and would really prefer that it light up before them like the ‘burning bush.’ But, I kind of like Adam’s easy and straight-forward method.

Here’s the video!

Sandra M Bell
Author of “Lunchtime Joy Magnet” & personal coach