The Gift of Life Purpose

 by John G. Agno, certified executive & business coach

At certain times in life, people take stock of where they are and where they want to go. Deciding what is important to us in our life's journey, including where we may be stuck, is the way to begin this life planning. The gift of knowing who you are and what you are meant to do gives you the energy to transform your life.

"The purpose of life is a life of purpose." Robert Byrne

What matters to you in your personal and professional lives? How do you want to live your life?

"I'll be happy when...." is the way many people think they are living their lives. Yet, happiness is not something that happens to you. Happiness is inside you now. You are motivated from within. You only have to allow happiness to surface.

Happiness = K (knowing who you are) X D (discovering your life's work) X L (learning not to tolerate what's not important).

That's the formula for happiness--know yourself, your true calling and that you get what you tolerate.

Only when you know your signature talents, your values, assumptions/beliefs, guiding principles, vision and passions are you able to bring your true self to your professional and personal lives. Your LifeSignature is the tracing of the talents we are given and how we express them in our lives.

In medicine you look at how "well tolerated" a drug will be related to its side effects. At work and at home, many people evaluate new opportunities related to what can be well tolerated. Yet after life, most people don't want their tombstone to read, "He tolerated stuff for other people because they paid him." Especially, when we realize that we can make more money and have more fun doing work that engages our passions. Life is too short for doing work you don't enjoy for people you don't respect.

Why not decide today, to live your life to its fullest? Are you ready to live a life built on a foundation of who you are and what you are meant to do?

"The secret of success is constancy to purpose." Benjamin Disraeli


If you are now taking a "well tolerated" approach to life, don't make another major life decision until you have learned about the LifeSignature model (! Our life work or LifeSignature is the tracing of the talents we are given and how we express them in our lives.

Working on the intangible "inward" stuff (your signature talents, assumptions/beliefs, values, vision and guiding principles) is what it takes to become more aware of one's identity. Once you know who you really are, and articulate your "purpose," you can cross the bridge to a tangible action plan that gets you where you want to be.  

Some people make the mistake of developing tangible action plans without first discovering their unique identity, signature talents and life purpose and then wonder why it is so difficult to move forward. 

Because going "inward" is difficult, it is recommended that you travel this unexplored territory with a personal coach. As humans, we are complex and need a guide to help us in our life of discovery and change --- especially, when substituting good habits for bad habits.

Those who succeed in revealing themselves to another find the dimness receding from their own visions of self. Like people awakening from a dream, they slough off the accumulated, ill-fitting trappings of unsuitable lives. Then the mutual fund manager may become a sculptor, or visa versa; some friendships lapse into dilapidated irrelevance as new ones deepen; the city dweller moves to the country, where he feels finally at home. As the emotional brain clarity emerges, life takes form.

---Source: A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis M.D., Fari Amini, M.D., Richard Lannon, M.D.

Coaching Tip 

For self-help books click on: be conscious of your default behavior , love , success , self-coaching , leadership , what should I do with my life and the meaning of life

Should you decide to discover your life purpose alone, here are some self-coaching suggestions: 

 1. Become aware of your "inherited or habitual purpose" before attempting to come up with your true life purpose. Your inherited purpose (which flows from your unconscious beliefs) tends to have these characteristics: is based in fear (your need to survive in the world), is your default mechanism, operates in the background (where you are not aware it is there) and is lacking in satisfaction/fulfillment. 

One way to think about this habitual purpose is to visualize a "gremlin" guiding you through each day. Your gremlin whispers in your ear, "Don't do that. Remember what happened when you tried to do that before? You know that you don't want to go there again. Right?"....or..."What would your Mother say you should do?" ....or... "Are you good enough to do this--especially, being on your own with all those responsibilities and commitments?" 

By just "noticing" (without making meaning) when your gremlin is speaking to you, will allow you make conscious choices. Rather than acting unconsciously under your default mechanism, you begin to tame your gremlin.  

For more background, read the book, "Taming Your Gremlin--A Guide to Enjoying Yourself" by Richard Carson. Click here for:Taming Your Gremlin

"Once the fear of death is transcended, life becomes a transformed experience because that particular fear underlies all others. Few people know what it is to live without fear--but beyond fear lies joy, as the meaning and purpose of existence become transparent." Power and Force, The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D.

2. If you are stuck, get unstuck. Here's how. Use this four column exercise to become aware of what "big assumption" you are protecting: 

a. Complete the statement, "If only, ________________________." This is a complaint of why something is not happening for you.  

b. After you have written the complaint, determine what commitments or convictions you hold that are actually implied in this response. Then write out the statement,

"I am committed to the value or importance of________________________________" in the first column. This allows you to transfer the "complaint" into a statement of "commitment." The language of complaints tells us what we can't stand; the language of commitments tells us what we stand for. Where there is passion, there are possibilities for transformation. 

c. Write down in the next column (next to the listed commitment) what you are doing and/or not doing that prevents your commitment from being fully realized. This process allows you to move from the language of "blame" to the language of "personal responsibility." 

d. In the 3rd column, next to each "doing" or "not doing" statement, write down what you are "protecting" -- by recognizing a competing commitment or value: "I may also be committed to ____________." This helps you to notice any contradiction that is showing up which is keeping you from honoring the previous commitment. This step will help you understand why your "immune system to change" is working against getting you where you want to be. This step allows you to move from the language of "New Year's Resolutions" to the language of "competing commitments." 

e. Now in the last column, next to the competing commitment you have identified, write down the "big assumption" that is the basis for the competing commitment that you are protecting. "I assume that if __________________ ." This step allows you to move from the language of "big assumptions than hold you back" to the language of "assumptions that you hold." 

Now you begin to understand why this change business is so difficult and discouraging at times. To effect significant change, we must continuously notice whenever these competing assumptions show up and test whether we want to hold on to our big assumption. Remember that the process of living a life of discovery and continual self-awareness and learning is important but difficult. 

This exercise is taken from the book, "How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work" by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey (Jossey-Bass 2001).  

3. After the "big assumption" holding you back has surfaced, and you have written out your values and guiding principles, you are ready to work on your life purpose statement.  

The components of your purpose statement, held together by the glue of your spirituality, are: 

a. Who you are (your assumptions/beliefs, what you know about yourself, your gifts and strengths and your desire to be authentic)  

b. Your core values and guiding principles  

c. Your vision 

The articulation of your life purpose becomes your "go to" statement when making choices (as to what is purposeful for you). When you are in alignment with your life purpose, you begin to achieve a sense of well-being, focus your energy and enjoy being in the "flow" of life.

 For more background on life purpose and business direction, read, "The On-Purpose Business" by Kevin McCarthy.

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Learn more about John Agno, certified executive & business coach.

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