How to Define Your Purpose – Using the 5P Method

 

Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Thoughts are things! And powerful things at that, when mixed with definiteness of purpose, and burning desire, can be translated into riches. – Napoleon Hill

 

I talk a lot about passion in my work, but the truth is it is only one piece of the puzzle. Albeit an important piece, it lacks a few elements that, in totality, unleash the full happiness that you are truly capable of. In this post we are going to explore the power of unleashing said happiness and what it means to define your purpose.

Defining your purpose can sometimes feel like an uneasy journey. Some of us aren’t adept at picking apart our weaknesses or taking an objective look at our lives. Perhaps we’ve stayed in a career longer than we should because we were good at it or maybe we’ve always longed for a life that was never “meant to be.” Despite the negative connotation it may initially have, finding a little “purpose guidance” can have amazing results. The truth is, we could all use a little help in this area. Not to worry though, the following 5 steps will help you align your purpose and live a life you truly love.

DOWNLOAD the Business Idea Canvas to help define your purpose

Step 1: Define Your Passion

Tasks that engage the mind

The first thing you should do to work toward your purpose is define your passion(s). List out all of the things you enjoy doing, would enjoy doing, and wish you had more time for. These can be work related, family related, or anything else you can think of. This is the most important piece to defining your purpose because it’s the part that defines you as a person and provides intrinsic motivation. It’s the part of your life that you can’t talk enough about and are enamored with – the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing before bed. Your passions are your aspirations, inclinations, and desires. They are your personal and professional interests.

Examples of passions: sports, helping people, health, food, fashion, etc.

Step 2: Define Your Power

Strengths, competencies, & expertise

The next thing you should do is define your power. Now we’re not talking about power in the physical sense (unless of course physical power is your strength – no pun intended). I’m talking about your strengths, competencies, and expertise, in both the professional sense and in your personal life. Start by listing out all of the things you are good at, stuff that is almost innate to you. These can be physical in nature (i.e. craftsmanship) or intangible (i.e. ability to read social cues). Next, look at all of the things you have experience and expertise in. These may or may not be your best strengths, but they are strengths nonetheless. Now, look at all of the things and relationships that you can leverage, such as your communication skills or your network. After defining this area of your life, you will have effectively clarified your leverage in the world. These are your niches, your go-to traits, and your ideal activities.

Examples of powers: writing, design, analysis, human relations, communication, etc.

Step 3: Define Your Profit

Market opportunity, value driver

Up next is defining your profit, by which I mean the areas in which you can make money. This is where creativity can be one of your biggest advantages, because it pays to think beyond the traditional methods of making money – both literally and figuratively. The best method I have found is to not limit yourself to the things you believe you can make money with, but rather listing the things anyone can make money with. So if you’re not experienced in writing books, but are a good writer, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not listing out books. For the power definition in your life, you should also list out any competitive advantages you have and any potential opportunities in the market of your choice (i.e. market trends).

Examples of profits: eBooks, consulting, online education, product/market fit, media, etc.


Now that you have the three main layers of your purpose, you should map them out in a diagram like the one below:

Passion, Power, and Profit

 

Take notice of where two of the three regions overlap, Passion & Power, Power & Profit, and Profit & Passion. These are areas of conjoint affiliation and distinct regions in which we see patterns emerge – namely pattens of hobbies, jobs, and dreams. They are areas that may seem like viable opportunities career-wise, but fail to meet the strict guidelines that your Purpose requires (fulfilling all three of the main P’s).

Hobbies, Dreams, and Jobs

 

  • Hobbies – where interests and skills align, but not monetary opportunity
  • Dreams – where interests and money align, but not skill
  • Jobs – where skills and money align, but not passion

Step 4: Define Your Purge

Tasks that you don’t like

As important as it is to define your passions, it’s equally important to define your purge – or areas in your life that you dislike. If you are averse to spending time away from your family, a “dream” job that requires 16-hour days, seven days per week may not be your perfect fit. I’ve personally met many people who fail to meet this important objective and their lives are incomplete for not doing so. List out things you dislike doing, the things you aren’t good at, and any other weaknesses you may have. Defining this area in your life will provide as much happiness as defining your passions, if not more so.

Examples of purges: customer service,  number crunching, writing, attention to detail, marketing, etc.

Purge

 

Step 5: Define Your Purpose

Your #1 reason to do ANYTHING

Now that you have Passions, Powers, Profits, and Purges defined, it’s time to hone in on your Purpose. Putting the Purge aside, notice where the remaining three areas overlap with one another.

Purpose

 

The small area in the epicenter is what many refer to as a vocation, calling, or life’s mission. It’s a unique (grey) area in which it may be difficult to distinguish one section from another, mainly because there is not a lot of differentiation amongst the three. In essence, the areas become blurred and centralized, losing their extrinsic meaning. A job is no longer a job, because it’s also a passion of yours. A dream is no longer a dream, because you have leverage in it. And a hobby isn’t a hobby anymore, because you make money with it. Once you’ve reached this point in your career, you may find that your life feels balanced and complete. A lot of entrepreneurs reach this point and embody the phrase “work-life balance”. Now it’s not to say that there aren’t bad days when you’ve reached your purpose, but being there allows you to embrace the “lows” and accept them as part of the journey. You will know you have reached this point when you no longer accept defeat and are inclined to problem solve in the midst of the “lowest-of-the-lows”.

Now it’s your turn to take action by trying this exercise for yourself. Where do you fit in terms of your career and life in general? I encourage you to take an objective look at your life to find the various elements mentioned in this post. When you see areas of overlap, take note of where they fall. Are they part of your purpose, or just a hobby? Clearly distinguishing these nuances will really help you define your true purpose in life and your career. I hope you find this strategy beneficial to finding your true purpose.

To try this exercise out on your own, just click here to download our business idea canvas: DOWNLOAD

If you’re interested in this concept and want to learn more, there are many books written on the topic. My favorite is Good to Great by Jim Collins (who laid the foundation for this concept). It’s an amazing read and in fact, has been considered one of the best business books of all time.

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Image courtesy of Good to Great

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. As always, feel free to contact me at info@BriceHolmes.com with any questions. If you want help finding your purpose, I can help you align your passions with your skills and find strategic ways to monetize them. I encourage you to keep the discussion going below and if you liked the post, please share it with those who you think might like it as well.