The Purposeful Life

A friend sent an exercise intended to discover your true life’s purpose.

  • Get a piece of paper and write ‘A purposeful life includes (you fill in the blank)’
  • On the next line, write ‘A purposeful life includes ( another thought or action)’
  • Continue in this manner
  • Instructions suggested writing until you cried, and your mission would become clear.

After several pages and no tears, I gave up on the exercise. I later decided that living a purposeful life might be more important to me than knowing my true life’s purpose, since that didn’t seem available at this time anyway.


For me, living a purposeful life includes a clear understanding of priorities, which changes regularly of course. With so much demanding our time and attention- community, our spiritual quest, career, family, financial necessities, and our health- it is critical to spend our time and energy wisely. All teachers and sages suggest a regular time each day of setting priorities, seeking clarity, and reviewing intentions.

Architect Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big House has written another book, The Not So Big Life: Making Room For What Really Matters. She writes “The real living is being there completely in whatever we’re doing..”, which is difficult to do if we are torn in many directions with unclear priorities.


Clarity is a precious thing, and however we can manage that in our busy lives, it’s worth the effort. This seems to be yet one more instance where age and experience is a blessing. It’s more clear now than when I was in my 20s and 30s where my energy is best directed, how to gracefully say no to a distraction I don’t need, and why to be spontaneous. But that is less about age than about the practices I’ve adopted that require an effortful focus on my values, my priorities, and my spirit.

About Carolinda

A provocateur of wellness and seeker of wisdom, I appreciate levity and simplicity in an artistic life, frugality but with requisite fun, and the freedom to pursue adventure. Blogging here since 2007.. or so...
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