Reported by Alice Trimmer

In October 2016 MHI was pleased to host Christine B. Whelan, author of The Big Picture, for a lecture and book signing. The Big Picture is geared primarily to young adults of college age. It contains a wealth of interactive strategies to help them uncover their personal sense of purpose. While this is a critical undertaking when one is choosing a course of study and professional path, developing a personal purpose statement is a good exercise to undertake at any point in one’s life. At this time of year, as one’s enthusiasm for New Year’s resolutions starts to lag, it is a good moment to consider whether I have a clear sense of my overarching purpose in life, and how the projects and plans for self-improvement that I plan to undertake fit into that. Constructing a personal mission statement can be a short road to complete mental paralysis, as most of us have many interests, talents, duties, responsibilities and pending projects. How do we meld all of these into a coherent path, and what is our basis for prioritizing them? Often we can think of short and long-term goals that we want to achieve, but Christine reminded us that goals are interim steps towards accomplishing our larger life’s purpose—not ends in themselves.  

In the workshop, Christine gave us a quick and accessible method to create a personal purpose statement. We wanted to share it with you so that you could try it. It is best not to over-think the answers, but just put what arises spontaneously as you go through the three steps. No one needs to see it but you, and you can always change it!  Here it is:   

  1. Think of three of your personal strengths, or things that you are good at. (These can be skills you have acquired over the course of your life, or qualities and talents you were born with.)  
  2. Think of three personal core values. (What values underlie your actions? What is most important to you?)
  3. Think of three persons, situations, or groups of people that you would like to impact. (What or who would you like most to change or influence?)  

These will be your building blocks for your purpose statement. Put them together into your personal purpose statement by filling in these blanks:

I will use my strengths in _______, _______, and _______ to promote my values of _______, _______, and _______ in order to  impact _______, _______, and _______. 

That’s all there is to it. Try it and find out how close to the mark your purpose statement turns out to be!