The 2 Keys To Finding Your Life’s Purpose

Do you know why you are on the planet?

Many of us believe that someone else has the answer to the call of our life. “Just tell me what I’m supposed to do with my life!” we claim.

While it’s true that a good mentor can give us valuable course corrections, and remind us to stay true to ourselves and our path, ultimately, finding and living our life purpose is up to us. We have to be the one to uncover and discover what we are here to do.

Even still, psychics and woo woo healers will claim to know your life purpose.  To want them to give you the answer is human.  Believe me, I have looked to someone else to tell me what I should do with my life many times over.

There are many web sites and businesses built upon helping you discover your life purpose. But it all boils down to 2 main things:

  • Know yourself deeply
  • know what you want

The more you know yourself, the more you are able to articulate what you want in life and out of that comes discovering your purpose.

So, if it’s true that you just need more self-knowledge to discover your purpose, then save yourself a lot of time and money, and, as I keep saying over and over on this website, go inward. Be willing to make the deep dive and your purpose will emerge, but not in the way you think.

The River Of Your Life

Let’s use a metaphor of a giant, wide, river.

If you stay in the river of your life, you are likely to be on purpose and you may not even know it. The more you stay in the big wide river, which represents your following your heart or following your truth, then you are on target.

For example, if all you know is that you want to help others, then that is your river. The finer details will come in terms of with whom, where, what and how.

Now, if you don’t stay in the river of helping others, and you listen instead to your parents, culture or friends, the more you will get diverted along the path of their river and you will get lost taking side tributaries. You might get distracted by the allure of money, fame, power, a woman.

This is common–to veer off your path for a while. But then, remember to come back to the big river of what you want.

If you commit to staying in your river, not someone else’s, the narrower the river will become until it’s like a surging mountain torrent or waterfall. When this happens, you feel alive, invigorated and full of energy to give to your purpose or cause.

Notice how I didn’t use the metaphor of reaching the summit of the highest peak. Men often think that one day, they will find their purpose, as if it’s a summit, and then everything will be okay. My own experience suggests otherwise.

A few important points about purpose.

  • You have to be willing to know yourself deeply and know what it is you want. Not what your ego wants!
  • Most spiritual teachers and traditions agree that a meaningful life purpose is always about helping others.
  • David Deida likes to say that if you don’t know your purpose, your purpose ought to be finding your purpose.

If you are unclear about your purpose, here are some fun exercises:

1. Finding your life’s purpose in 20 minutes. This comes from personal development wizard Steve Pavlina. Check it out.

2. What do you want? Stemming off of what Steve suggests, take out a sheet of paper and write “What do I want?” at the top. Now, write “I want…” and fill in the blank over and over. Remember not knowing what you want becomes an excuse to continue putting off your life and discovering what you are here to do.

3. Now brainstorm this question from Deepak Chopra. “If you had all the money and all the time in the world what would you do?”

4. If you go the “woo woo” route, use palm readers, psychics, shamans and plant medicine with great care. Don’t go in like I did expecting to be hit over the head with “the answer.” Remember, your purpose is likely to unfold over many years and will change many times. Remember to stay in a common theme (the big river).

5. Listen to Tripp Lanier interview Guy Sengstock and Brian Johnson on the New Man podcast. These are both great interviews about finding your purpose.

So remember, finding your purpose in life is about discovering who you are and what you want, plain and simple.


  • Joshua

    Reply Reply August 7, 2009

    Hi, Tripp turned me to you and I like what this says. Thanks for doing this.

  • Scott Rutledge

    Reply Reply August 7, 2009


    This is really good stuff. Really, really liked it. I especially liked the “important points…” section, highlighting the universality to focus, think, reach and act OUTWARDLY, not inwardly, by helping, loving and serving others. That’s key, and critical to discovering one’s real, TRUE purpose for their life.

    I went through a “deep cleansing”, soul-searching “what’s-my-purpose” quest about 3-4 years ago, after my business – and then my marriage – cratered. My coach and mentor through that process (well, there were several, actually, that provided real and true value) was largely Bill Farrell, well-known author and leader crusading for marriages, families and relationships with his wife Pam here in San Diego.

    I want to share a key ingredient that I learned in/through this process that may be helpful and useful to encouraging you and your readers to go deeper!

    Bill introduced a simple but powerful 2-step process: firstly, how each and every one of us has been given from birth – that’s right, we don’t “choose” or “decide” – a large set of innate gifts, skills and talents that are unique and special, those things that we are just naturally great at, making each of us “excellent” and “genius” in a sense in unique and specific ways. Your concept of “understanding yourself deeply” is key to unlocking what these are, which in turn point and direct us to our purpose, and unleashing their true and full potential. Take some time to focus inwardly on these, and inventory them! Write them down, and speak to a close, loved confidant about them! This is hugely important, as these are “clues” that point each of us toward – scream out really – our purpose.

    Secondly, as you so rightly point out Jayson, we must seek, search and discover the deepest desires of our hearts, and align and integrate these with our innate gifts, talents and skills. This, too, requires the deep introspection that you mention, but as above focused in a very specific way. It is written that our deepest desires have been written on our hearts by our Creator – again, given to us, as a gift! These typically go hand-in-hand with the gifts we’ve been given, bringing further clarity and sharper focus on our life’s purpose. Again, write them down, and speak them into existence!

    Then couple these two together, and add to it the knowledge and experience(s) that you’ve been given – together, these are the brother and sister to which each of us has already been committed in our lives. Ever notice that the things you love to do (your passions) tend to line up with the things you’re really good at?!? It’s no accident! This points us directly towards our purpose, and illuminates the path! Now look outwardly, towards others, and how you might use these gifts and passions to help and serve them: a bright lighthouse beam has just been turned on your life’s purpose! If we hold fast to these, we shall not fail in our mission!

    One other perspective Bill shared on purpose is surprising but very clear: if you can envision fulfilling the purpose that you have articulated above on your own strength/by yourself, then it is TOO SMALL! He provided ample evidence that we are meant to live out our purpose in, out of and through faith, reaching beyond ourselves and our abilities, and also acknowledging and depending on “relationship” – leaning and depending primarily on your Creator and secondarily one another, in love, in order to accomplish our purpose.

    Tracking closely with this is the “B-HAGS” (Big, Hairy, Audacious GoalS) philosophy: A person will work towards a goal, but never past it, so, setting a huge challenging goal will organically and inherently cause us to raise our own bars and games to a level commensurate with achieving at a much higher level – i.e., even if we fall short of the BHAG, we will end up achieving far more than ever imagined before!


  • Torrey

    Reply Reply August 16, 2009

    Jayson this is a good post. I find it so frustrating when people just wander through life without a plan. Many times, it is because they do not know why they exist. This is a great read for those looking for their purpose.

  • Syc

    Reply Reply August 23, 2009

    I agree that a plan is so critical to life, but so is listening to oneself. My personal test for knowing if I am moving in the direction of my purpose is based on how I feel about life and self. If I am miserable and not enjoying the bulk of my activities, I am not living up to my purpose. However, if I feel, in general, content (with all the normal up’s and down’s of life), then I am moving towards my purpose.

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