Echoing Socrates’ dictum that “an unexamined life is not worth living,” it can be similarly postulated that, more plausible than not, a life without purpose is not worth living.
This column piece is a sequel to my last one, “Lord, help me serve my purpose” (OpinYon, 25 May 2022), where I tried to elucidate what “life purpose” is, its profound exigency, and how to find it.
Life purpose, as I tried to demonstrate in my last piece, is the meaning-based direction, goal, calling, or “mission” of our individual life. Moreover, one generic characteristic of a genuine life purpose is that its “key is using your strength to serve others” (Emily Esfahani Smith) – be they your kin, friends, community, or society.
Thus, to find our purpose in life is to see our self-worth through the prism of our individual gifts and use them to help others or contribute to the greater good of society or humanity. Lastly, in my last column also, I brought to fore the profound insight that our life purpose has to be in synch with God’s purpose or will.
Now, for this column piece, I will try to tackle further on the query: How can we frame our life purpose?
In most training programs that I conduct (by the way, aside from writing, my other professional engagement is training and development) – be they on human resource competency, work management skills, or intra-organizational relations, etc. – I always make it a point to start on “self grounding” or for the participants to understand “themselves” through structured learning exercises (SLEs).
One structured learning exercise or SLE that I always enjoy giving is called “Date With Destiny,” purposely designed by my senior peer who’s a virtuoso in training and development.
“Date With Destiny,” as part of the module session of “Clarifying Goals,” is designed to bring out in the participants their personal goal and mission in life (that is, apart from their immediate or current work goals). The methodology of this SLE activity is a guided meditation. With eyes closed, and through a pre-recorded audiotape, participants are mentally shepherded through an imaginary journey leading to a fascinating rest house. Upon entering the house, the individual participant is met by familiar faces – family, relatives, friends, officemates, former teachers and classmates. Then the individual participant finds out the morbid truth that he or she is already dead, lying in a coffin – and the particular occasion is actually his or her wake.
Then those who are present – parent/s, spouse, child, co-worker, boss, friend, etc. – will take turn delivering their respective eulogies for the (training) participant. Along with the delivery of eulogies by “significant others,” the voice recording repeatedly pokes some questions: “What is your (father/mother, spouse, child, friend, co-worker, boss, etc.) saying about you? Do you like what he or she is saying about you? If not, how would you have wanted him or her to say about you? How would you have lived your life so that he or she could say what you would want said about you?”
Then, the 15-minute audio-taped guided meditation ends, and participants are thus waken up for the ensuing post-SLE processing session.
In short, hence, the end-goal of “Date with Destiny” is for participants (and us too) to reflect “how do we like to be remembered after our death by our significant others?”
Now, let me segue back to our earlier question: How can we frame our life purpose?
For me, the “Date with Destiny” structured learning exercise that we use in our trainings offers a good insight in framing our life purpose. Our significant others help us clarify how we want to live our life. This does not mean that we will be dictated by what they say but by what we want said (or remembered, as in “good memories”) about us. In a sense, our significant others serve as a mirror of what we really want to do or become so that we live life fully and meaningfully, while remaining ourselves as free agents.
Interestingly, in our trainings, after the “Date with Destiny” session, we let participants accomplish the “Life Purpose & Personal Mission Statement” form – in which, they make a summary statement of their Life Purpose based on how they would like to be remembered by the significant persons in their life.
In sum, therefore, framing our life purpose involves the following key elements: 1) start by examining your individual God-given gifts; 2) enrich or mirror these gifts with deep values and beliefs, with your memorable or timeless relationship with your significant others, as well as with God’s will and purpose for you; 3) use these gifts to serve others or contribute to the greater good of society or humanity.
Whilst, it is worth recalling the daily morning prayer of my good friend, Ray Junia:
“Lord, help me serve my purpose and let me live my destiny according to thy will.”