Writing My Purpose Statement

“So now,” Leah added, “you might consider writing your purpose statement.”

You mean, write a statement about what I’m here to do? Like, the thing most of us spend our whole life trying to figure out or find?

I just finished the couple month task of articulating my top priorities and values. For someone who often shies away from being too specific, the value excercies was difficult. Now, defining some sort of purpose statement felt daunting, and fake. As though I was making up something based on an ideal picture in my head. I googled personal mission statement.

Turns out, there’s a formula to creating a solid purpose statement. Praise. The service or value you provide + the change you hope to inspire = your personal mission/purpose statement. Hmmm. Blah. Nothing says ‘right out of the corporate board room’ like a formula and stiff verbiage.

But then there was Oprah Winfrey’s statement:
“To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.”

And Sir Richard Branson’s personal statement:
“To have fun in [my] journey through life and learn from [my] mistakes”

I started to see the light. I asked Leah if my purpose statement could change, if it might shift as I grow up and move into different life situations, and what if I wanted to edit it later—is that okay? Yup. Yup. Yup.

Ah. A purpose statement is merely articulating the essence of something that I already do, already care about, already a part of who I am. It’s not me predicting the future or defining the deepest purpose for my entire life.

It’s just a way to say, this is what I’m about.

With that change in perspective, I wrote a couple lines about things I care about doing well and I set the thought aside to simmer for a couple days.

I was thinking about dinner or leaves or something like that while waiting for a red light to change on State Street later in the week when my brain flashed the little scanning-of-all-mental-inventories-is-complete-and-an-idea-is-waiting-for-your-consideration.

I want to know you. I want you to know you.

It worked. I gave my subconscious a thumbs-up.

It worked because I genuinely care to understanding the people I encounter. I want to understand each person’s perspective, understand life from their experiences, and, mostly, understand what they really wish they could do with their life.

The people I’ve talked with over the years have the most interesting, doable ideas tucked away in their minds. Fascinating stuff. But it tends to stay in their heads and I wish they would try, go for it, make the stuff happen.

Sometimes people tell me that they tried an unorthodox approach or took action on an original idea because they thought of a conversation we had. (Or because I’d done something similar before and survived…but that’s a less flattering conversation.)

I believe that when people are known and know themselves—and this often happens through conversations others—they can dig deeper, climb higher, and carry on further than they ever imagined.

That statement is completely consistent with who I am and what I care about. I have years of memories to back it.

And, that’s how I developed my personal purpose statement.

I finished up by scratching out some concrete ways that I carry this out on the regular.

Then I put it on the back burner to simmer into my life. Gotta say, I’m liking the flavor it adds.

I want to know you. I want you to know you so you
can dig deeper, climb higher, and carry on further than you expected.

Notes (or, how-that-little-idea-works-in-real-life):

I want to know me, so I can show up as me and give you the space to be you. Let’s be real, okay?

I want to leave you asking yourself different, better questions about the world, yourself, where are going, and what you are doing. Think and then think again, but differently this time.

I want you to know that you are needed here for what you add in who you are. Now go for it.

I love gathering people together and creating space to know and be known. It doesn’t hurt if it’s around cheese and charcuterie.

I want you to feel fear and pain and joy and love, and still continue pressing into every bit of life. ‘Cause, same here.

I want to leave you feeling a little more known…and loved for it.


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