Life Purpose and Values

It’s been years since I last updated my life purpose statement and list of values. The last time was around 2005. My life has changed tremendously since then, and I’ve fallen out of sync with the old versions, so I invested some time this week in soul searching and introspecting to update these items.

The new life purpose statement I created is:

to care deeply, connect playfully, love intensely, and share generously;
to joyfully explore, learn, grow, and prosper;
and to creatively, brilliantly, and honorably serve the highest good of all.

I may continue to tweak this over time, but overall I feel it does a good job of encapsulating what’s important to me in life.

A life purpose statement is a very personal thing, so when you read someone else’s life purpose, it won’t necessarily mean much to you, but it has a special significance to the person who created it.

If you want help crafting your own life purpose statement, a good place to start is the article How to Discover Your Life Purpose in About 20 Minutes. If you have a copy of my book Personal Development for Smart People, you’ll find an updated version of this process along with some additional tips in the Career chapter in Part II.

My new values list, in order of priority, is:

  1. Caring (compassion, kindness, generosity)
  2. Oneness (unconditional love, connectedness, harmony)
  3. Devotion (passion, loyalty, intensity)
  4. Intimacy (honesty, openness, sharing)
  5. Exploration (curiosity, learning, adventure)
  6. Brilliance (genius, creativity, style)
  7. Honor (humility, gratitude, class)
  8. Playfulness (fun, humor, play)
  9. Prosperity (abundance, richness, wealth)

I found it easiest to clarify and then prioritize my values first, and then I used that list to help craft my life purpose statement. It took hours to clarify my values list, but once that was done, it took less than 30 minutes to come up with the new purpose statement.

Creating this list gave me some fresh insights about what’s most important to me.

The first 3 values (caring, oneness, devotion) involve creating a strong core of love, support, and connectedness. These values help align me with the principle of Love. When these values are fulfilled, I feel very happy and inspired, which is a great foundation for a purpose-driven life.

The next 2 values (intimacy and exploration) help me align with the principle of Truth. Once I have a strong base of Love, I’m motivated to reach out, share, and learn.

The 6th value (brilliance) is about expressing myself creatively. What unique value can I contribute to others? What’s the very best I have to share?

The last 3 values (honor, playfulness, prosperity) are about how I wish to enjoy and experience the game of life.

I was amazed to see how much my core values have changed. This is a very different list than any I’ve created in the past 20 years. Values that used to be near the top of the list include focus, discipline, and efficiency. Those aren’t nearly as important to me today. Now I feel it’s more important to lead with my heart.

If you want to update your own values list, I encourage you to take advantage of this extensive list of values as a brainstorming aid.

A shift in your values can cause you to shift your decisions and actions as well. For example, a few years ago when I removed all third-party advertising from my website, which caused my income to instantly drop by more than $100K per year (passive income to boot), some people thought I was nuts. But that decision was consistent with my values. As you can see from my current values list, it’s more important for me to care about people and make honorable choices than it is to increase my personal wealth and abundance. For someone with different values, however, the same decision might not have made them happy. I have no regrets about it though.

Much like a life purpose statement, a values list is a very personal thing. Someone else’s values might not mean much to you. It’s only when you see your own values written out that the benefits of having such a list become clear.

Some decisions in life can be quite tricky. When you have your life purpose statement and values list to consult, however, these tricky decisions become much easier, and your decisions will be more consistent.

Should you quit your job to start your own business? Yes, if you value growth and learning over stability.

Should you break up with your current relationship partner? Yes, if that relationship leaves your most important values unfulfilled and another relationship would do a better job of fulfilling them.

Should you eat pizza for breakfast instead of a fruit smoothie? No, if you value vitality and alertness over satiety.

When you can quickly remind yourself what’s most important to you and in what order of priority, you not only gain clarity about the right decisions, but you also know why they’re the right decisions for you.