By Kim Soko Schaefer
We all agree, clarifying your purpose can unlock unlimited benefits in your life. But few know exactly how to do that. This framework, created by Ways + Meaning, can help you through the process so that you can have the confidence you need to know you’re living the good life.
“The most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain
Purpose means something different to everyone, I know that.
Google (but really the Oxford Dictionary) considers purpose:
- The reason for which something is done or created
- A person’s sense of resolve or determination
Purpose is essentially meaning. When most people talk about ‘purpose’ and ‘life’ they’re referring to the meaning of life. Or more specifically, the meaning of THEIR life.
This can cause a lot of anxiety. Because having certainty of your purpose is nearly impossible. But finding clarity is much, much easier. And the good news is that certainty isn’t necessary.
This framework doesn’t need to be complete to be helpful. As you’ll learn, many of the inputs will change over time, and you don’t need all the answers to move forward on your path. This is why I encourage you to revisit this course often.
The journey to purpose may never end, but each step closer to it improves your life.
One of the key aspects about this framework is that it focuses on the journey, your life, and not any particular goal or destination. It’s about choosing an enjoyable, fulfilling and meaningful way of living.
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I send out an email whenever inspiration strikes (which is not often, so not annoying). I call it bits of wisdom because that’s what it is.
And to thank you for inviting me in to your inbox, I’ll send you a FREE purpose toolkit which includes:
- The purpose framework minibook with printables of the framework
- The know yourself guide to help you fill out that framework
- The Roadmap: a simple planning tool
- A cool little to do list template
- A budget tracker
The most important thing you need to understand about this framework is that each component must link up with the ones that come before and after it. This is how you can be sure that what you’re doing now, and every day, is helping you to live out your purpose. Doing so will inevitably ensure you’re living a good life.
The things that remain constant
The top half of the framework is dedicated to the more static aspects of living a better life. This includes:
- Your highest belief
- Your essential values
- Your identity
These are the things that shouldn’t change much throughout your life, except they will. They’ll change because the better you get at understanding yourself and your purpose, the better you’ll be able to articulate these components.
They won’t change, but your awareness of them probably will.
Also, although this framework is hierarchical in that each component should guide the one below it, we don’t start from the top and work our way down.
We start in the middle, then we go up, then we go down. This is because knowing yourself is the foundation of understanding your purpose in life. Let me explain…
Step 1: know yourself
The better you know yourself, the better you understand what it is that you’re best at, who to build better relationships with and who to hire for your team, the better you understand who you really are and what your ultimate contribution to the world might be.
Knowing your true self and the contribution you make to the world is at the center of this framework. Your identity forms the foundation for your entire purpose which is why this is also where you start.
You can do this by answering a series of guided to questions that gets to the heart of your truest self. You can find these questions in the highlights section of my Instagram account @waysandmeaning. Or you can join my email list and get the know yourself guide as part of my free purpose toolkit.
Step 2: go higher
Only after you know yourself, can you begin to go higher. Step 2 with this framework involves better understanding your highest belief and essential guiding values.
The values that get included here are just the most essential values, your core values. There are a lot of different kinds of values that show up in our lives, but for now, know that the values I’m hoping you identify for this framework are those that are ultimately the ones that guide every aspect of who you are and what you do. They have always been, and will always be with you. They are unlikely to change much throughout your life. You are not your true self without them. They are essential to who you are.
Your highest belief is the most profound idea you believe to be true about the world and the meaning of your life. If you are a spiritual person, your beliefs about God, divinity, or a greater power go here. If you’re more secular-minded, then perhaps this would have something to do about evolution or your ability to be the best version of your true self. For others this can be the single cause or issue that most profoundly impacts who you are and why you’re here, or maybe you just leave this section blank.
The things that change
The bottom half of the framework is thus more focused on living out your constants in the real world. These are the things that are more likely to evolve and change over time, and include:
- What matters most
- Your focus
- The actions and habits you want more of and less of in your daily life
Step 3: go deeper
The final step is to go deeper to understand what matters most in your life, the focus areas you should be paying attention to, and a process for understanding what to focus on NOW, including identifying the habits and actions that will enable you to live out your life on purpose.
WHAT MATTERS MOST
Think of this component as your current strategic objective, or motivation in life. What matters most to me is probably not what matters most to you, and will certainly change throughout your life. Right now, for me, what matters most is the overall positive wellbeing of myself and my family. For you it might be your career, or discovering joy in life or your health or your financial situation. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as you recognize it as the most meaningful to you, right now.
We begin identifying our focus by first determining the main categories or areas of life that need our continued attention. The default focus areas represent the aspects of life we know to be the greatest contributors to our overall positive wellbeing (as previously discussed), which include:
Your focus areas should help you achieve what matters most in your life. So if that is not your overall wellbeing, you’ll need to customize these for yourself. Once you’ve identified your focus areas, you can determine what needs to be your current focus, right now.
It is IMPOSSIBLE to focus on all of these areas of your life at once. The less things we focus on, the more we can improve each of them. The goal is not to be perfect at each of these things at all times. It’s to be aware of when an area of our life needs your focus and being okay letting go of something else. When we talk about identifying your ‘focus’, we’re talking about choosing one or a few of these areas of life and identifying the change we hope to achieve.
YOUR DAILY HABITS + BEHAVIORS
Finally there are all the actions or habits that add up to the sum of your life. I enjoy thinking about outcomes, dreaming about the future, envisioning my ideal life. But I don’t focus on those things. Those things help to motivate me, but what I focus on is my actions every day. I will not have my dream beach house by thinking about it every day. I will get it by doing what I need to do, today, and every day thereafter.
Because of that we focus on our habits, the good and the bad. You’ll find there are actions that improve multiple areas of your life and those that negatively impact many. Replacing your bad habits with those high impact actions is the fastest way to live the good life.
For example, sex is good for your mind, your spirit, your body and your relationships…so have more (safe, consenual) sex! Whereas mindlessly scrolling through social media is bad for almost all areas of your life..so do less of that 🙂
The goal is that at the end of this process you have more awareness of who you are, of what matters most to you, and the actions you need to take to help you live a better life.
Tips to help you complete this framework
By looking within and asking yourself a lot of deep, personal, meaningful questions, anyone can find the answers they need to complete this framework on their own.
However, some of us might need a bit of help. I have a toolkit for you. Just join my email list and you’ll receive the purpose toolkit.