Are you living on purpose, or are there aspects of your life that, when you really think about it, don’t seem to have much purpose at all?

This kind of realization can be both humbling and enlightening. But taking the time to sit in this important inquiry can help lead us to a more purposeful life.

By asking yourself the right questions and really being honest with yourself, you can become aware of some of the specific places in life where you are operating unconsciously or by default, simply reacting to life as it’s “happening to you.”

It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling as though you’re a victim of your circumstances and responsibilities.

2 Distinct Aspects of Living on Purpose

As I’ve thought more about this whole concept of living on purpose, I think there are two distinct aspects of it.

  • There is “Purpose” with a capital “P,” which relates to figuring out and living true to who we are, what’s most important to us, and our larger reason for being alive.
  • Then there is “purpose” with a lower case “p,” which relates to the level of consciousness, mindfulness, and deliberateness with which we live our lives on a daily basis.

Both of these aspects of purpose are important to our overall fulfillment, yet they are distinct.

Living Our Purpose 

Living our Purpose (with a capital P) is a lot easier said than done for most of us.  First of all, we have to figure out what our Purpose is, which for some of us comes easily and early in life, and for others takes a long time. And, even for those of us who feel as though we’ve found our Purpose, it often shifts and changes as we evolve and age, sometimes in significant ways.

A good way to delve more deeply into your own Purpose is to ask the simple but important question, “If money and logistics weren’t an issue, what would I do and where would I focus my attention and energy?”

Asking and answering this simple but important question is something we can do on a regular basis, to check in with ourselves and see how true to our Purpose we’re living at any given moment in life.

Many of us struggle with the financial and practical aspects of life.  Due to this, our daily lives often don’t fully align with our Purpose. This gap between our Purpose and how we actually live is common; it doesn’t mean we’re bad or wrong (even though we may judge ourselves harshly when we think about it this way).

The size and significance of our personal gap does, however, have an impact on us – the larger the gap, the more out of alignment we may feel. The smaller the gap, the more “on purpose” we may experience our lives.  Our level of awareness of our gap, and our willingness to take action in the direction of narrowing the gap, is what will lead us to a life of deeper Purpose.

It’s also important to remember that this process is unique for each of us – there’s no right way to do it.  Living our Purpose is about acceptance, willingness, authenticity, vulnerability, and courage.  And, like most important things in life, it’s a journey, not a destination.

Living on purpose 

Living on purpose (with a lowercase p) is about how we live our lives on a daily basis.

How conscious are you?  How mindful are you?  How deliberate are you?  The answers to these questions will vary for each of us based on a variety of factors, and can even vary for most of us throughout the course of a given day, week, or month of our lives.

As fast as life seems to be moving these days, as much information and communication as we’re exposed to, and as many responsibilities as most of us have, it’s easy to let the rat race of life take over without us even being fully aware of it.

Living with purpose is a practice that involves being conscious, mindful, and deliberate in both the big and small aspects of life. It means slowing down, speaking up, taking risks, making tough choices, asking for what we want, dealing with conflicts directly, expressing our appreciation for others, taking care of ourselves, and remembering that we are the authors of our own lives. These are just a few of the many ways we can live purposefully every day.

It’s Not Always Easy

Living our Purpose and living on purpose are not easy, and in many cases, not even authentically encouraged by those around us.  There is a lot of agreement within our culture that “you have to just suck it up and take care of business,” or that life is hard, especially days and with all we’ve been through in recent years.

These types of thoughts and beliefs show up in my head on a pretty regular basis, and I hear them from people around me directly or indirectly all the time.  However, just because we have these common thoughts or beliefs, doesn’t make them true or helpful.

For us to live our Purpose and live on purpose, it takes authentic self awareness and radical courage. And, as author Susan Jeffers taught us, “feel the fear and do it anyway.”

How on purpose are you living these days?  Feel free to share your thoughts, questions, or reflections in the comments below.


  • Mike Robbins

    Author and Motivational Speaker

    Mike Robbins is the author of five books including his latest, We’re All in This TogetherHe’s an expert in teamwork, leadership, and company culture who delivers keynotes and seminars around the world that empower people, leaders, and teams to engage in their work, collaborate, and perform at their best. Mike and his team partner with clients like Google, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Schwab, eBay, Genentech, the Oakland A’s, and many others.