Are you someone who struggles to find motivation in the morning? Do you hit the snooze button one too many times, because you feel uninspired and unenthused about the day ahead? Maybe you haven’t found your place in the world yet.
It’s time to discover your true calling and reignite your passion for living. We will answer four simple questions that will uncover your purpose in life. After completing the assignment, you’ll have a basic foundation for a fulfilling life with meaning and purpose.
So, if you’re ready to take control of your future and find your place in the world, read on!
Finding Purpose in Life
We all go through phases in our lives. From childhood to teenage years and adulthood, we are constantly evolving and discovering new things about ourselves. As we grow, we may find ourselves questioning who we are and what we’re passionate about. Sometimes these existential questions become so insistent that you end up in an identity crisis. You feel like you’re missing a purpose in life.
This can be an overwhelming and confusing time, but it’s also a great opportunity. It allows you to explore, try new things and create a new identity.
As a kid, we all had dreams of who we wanted to become. But I am quite sure that 95% of you do not have the profession that you imagined as a child. No wonder. Those dreams seem utterly unrealistic now. They were mere dreams, not taking into account the reality of being an adult and all the responsibilities that come with it. You can’t choose a profession without actually thinking about salary, career opportunities, workload, risk and whether you can become successful in the field.
Even though it can pay off to find out what the kid in you wants, in this we will find ourselves a purpose in life that also fulfills our adult responsibilities.
What is a Life Purpose?
Your life purpose is your reason for being. It is the driving force that makes us pursue the things that are most important and meaningful to us. You can think of your life purpose as a compass that helps you to stay on course, and makes you exciting to get out of bed in the morning.
Purpose Venn Diagram
The Purpose Venn diagram is a tool that can help you find your purpose in life. Sometimes this diagram is referred to the Ikigai diagram, but here you can read why this is a little misleading.
Let me explain the diagram first, before we start filling it in ourselves.
The diagram consists of four circles:
- What do I love doing?
- What am I good at?
- What can I get paid for?
- What does the world need?
Passions, Vocations, Professions, and Missions
By answering the four questions that make up the Purpose Venn Diagram, you will find commonalities between your activities and skills. For instance, some of the activities that you can get paid for, are also things that you love doing.
The overlap between the circles will reveal your passions, vocations, professions, and missions.
Passion refers to the things that you are passionate about, or the things that you truly enjoy doing. This can include hobbies, activities, or causes that you are deeply invested in.
Vocation refers to your calling or your true purpose in life. This is often linked to your passion, but it can also be something that you feel called to do, even if you do not necessarily enjoy it.
Profession refers to the work that you do to earn a living. This can be your job or career, and it is typically something that you are trained or skilled in.
Mission refers to the overall purpose or goal that you are working towards. This could be something that you want to accomplish in your lifetime, or a cause that you are dedicated to.
Why You Feel You’re Missing Something
Now, with the knowledge of our passions, vocations, professions and missions, we can dig one layer deeper. Are there activities that reoccur in multiple circles?
Combining these four elements with each other actually provides us some valuable insight into why we feel something is missing:
A passion combined with profession will give you satisfaction, but also a feeling of uselessness.
A profession combined with vocation will give you comfort, but also a feeling of emptiness.
A vocation combined with mission will give you excitement and self-approval, but a sense of uncertainty.
A mission combined with a passion will give you delight and fulfillment, but no wealth.
Finding Your Reason for Being
Ideally, you want to design your life in such a way that all four circles are addressed. Can you think of an activity that addresses all four elements?
For example, a person who might fit into this diagram might be a teacher who loves teaching, is good at helping students learn, is needed by the world to educate the next generation, and can be paid for their skills and expertise. Similarly, an entrepreneur with an engineering background that develops and sells solar panels, might cover all the four quadrants with his business.
Or think of a nurse. This person’s love of caring for others, their skill at providing medical care, the value their work brings to the world, and the income they generate from their job all intersect in the Venn diagram. Nursing could therefore be the only thing they need to make their life worth living.
You might find that it is not easy to find one thing that appeals to all circles. Not many people have that luxury. In that case, find a combination of two or three activities that, when combined, address all quadrants of the Venn diagram. This will form a solid foundation that will allow you to do the things you love, you’re good at, get paid, and make the world a better place.
“The key is in accepting your thoughts, all of them, even the bad ones. Accept thoughts, but don’t become them. Understand, for instance, that having a sad thought, even having a continual succession of sad thoughts, is not the same as being a sad person.”
Assignment: Fill in Purpose Venn Diagram
Now it’s your turn!
Let’s use this diagram to figure out your purpose. To help you, I made a Google Sheet template that you can download here.
Step 1: List Activities
Start off by making a whole list of activities. You can take the four questions of the diagram as probing questions to come up with things you can do:
What do I love doing?
List activities, hobbies, and subjects that bring you joy and fulfillment. Think about the things that you do in your free time that you lose track of time while doing.
What am I good at?
List of your strengths, skills, and accomplishments. Ask yourself what others have praised you for or have told you that you are good at. Consider seeking feedback from friends, family, and colleagues to get a more objective perspective.
What can I get paid for?
List the skills, knowledge, and experience that you have that are in demand in the job market. Research potential careers or industries that align with your passions and strengths and that offer opportunities for growth and advancement.
What does the world need?
Think about the problems or challenges that exist in the world and how you might be able to contribute to finding solutions. List how your passions, skills, and experiences can be used to make a positive impact on the world.
NB: You can fill out this diagram for your current life, but also consider skills that you could develop in the future. Or maybe you’ve had hobbies or jobs in the past that you can also include in your overview.
Step 2: Score Each Activity
Now for each activity, answer each of the following questions with a rating between 1 (not at all) and 5 (very much):
- How much do you love doing this?
- How good are you at it?
- How likely is it you will get paid for it?
- How much does it contribute to the world?
This will help you uncover the overlap between the circles, and indicate to you how purposeful each activity is.
Volunteering at the animal shelter could be something that you really enjoy doing (5), you’re reasonably good at (4), and really makes a difference for the animals (5), but is something that will never pay you (1). This amounts to a total Purpose Score of 15, which is pretty high.
Step 3: Improve Your Results
If you sort your activities by their Purpose Score (Right-click Column F > Sort Sheet Z to A), you will find the activities with highest overall contribution to a purposeful life. Maybe this will already show you a surprising result, some striking patterns, or make it obvious that you’re lacking in one of the circles.
Take some time to think about it.
Some interesting questions you can ask yourself:
- How could I improve the scores of some of the activities?
In the previous example of a person working at the animal shelter, it is clear that he or she enjoys working with animals, is good at it, and gets a sense of gratification from it. The only thing missing is payment, as it is voluntary work. How would you be able to make a living by taking care of animals? Maybe this person could consider becoming a vet, working in a cat café, at a dog walking service or perhaps in an NGO dedicated to animal welfare.
- Could I combine two or three activities into something new?
Combining multiple activities can sometimes lead to interesting pairings that you might not have thought of. It may even lead to finding a specific niche that is completely underexposed.
Think of someone who loves to keep fish, is good at making videos, but has to make a living from working in marketing. Maybe this person could start a side hustle by starting a YouTube channels that livestreams aquariums all over the world. With his video equipment and marketing know-how, his channel might make a big splash, reeling in viewers all over the globe and keeping them hooked.
- Would a change in environment make the activity any different?
A change in environment could impact the scores of each activity. And I mean environment in the broadest sense of the word.
What would happen if you did the same activity together with someone else? Would you like the work better if it was your own business instead of working for an employee? Would the pay be any different? Could your impact on the world be greater if you moved to a different country?
Think of all the variables that make up the activity, and how tweaking some of these variables will improve or reduce the scores of the four aspects.
Final Step: Decide on your Purpose
After thinking about how you could improve each activity, choose one, two or three activities that will form the basis of your purpose-filled life.
Make sure you address all four aspects from the Purpose Venn Diagram. In other words, ensure that you will be doing something that you love, that you are good at, that you get paid for and that the world also benefits from. Only then will you experience a meaningful life that is sustainable.
Identify a career path that aligns with your passions, strengths, and values. Remember, your purpose may not be limited to a traditional career and can involve a combination of work, hobbies, and service to others. Nor does it have to be one thing; you are free to pick and combine. But the fewer different activities you choose, the better you will be able to direct your attention and efforts.