Instead of a New Year’s Resolution Discover Your Life Purpose!

Originally written and posted on

Patrice Tanaka, Founder & Chief Joy Officer,  Joyful Planet LLC

Instead of making yet another New Year’s resolution, which statistics sadly indicate an 80 percent failure rate, think about what is most important for you to accomplish in life and articulate that in a succinct statement of purpose. Discovering and living your purpose is the single, more efficient and powerful thing you can do to unleash your leadership potential and the joy of a more successful and fulfilling life in 2020 and beyond.

A life purpose statement that is accurate, inspiring and galvanizing to you can help you achieve what matters most to you – not just change one bad habit. And the beauty of a life purpose that excites you is that, once you know it you can’t “un-know” it. Your purpose will inform – on a conscious and subconscious level – the decisions and actions you take going forward to focus and drive you to achieve what is most important in a highly efficient way.

Your life purpose should inspire you! Every time you say it, see it or think it – like a mantra – it will affirm your purpose. And when you share your purpose – and you should do this as often as possible – you will be able to enlist support to help you achieve what matters most.

Unlike most New Year’s resolutions, a life purpose isn’t about “denying” yourself (carbs, cigarettes, spending money, etc.), it’s about “embracing” what you most want to accomplish in life.

So, what is a life purpose? A life purpose isn’t about making a lot of money, becoming famous or lavishly taking care of you and your family period. A life purpose is about how we will leverage our talents, expertise and passion in service of other people – not limited to family and friends – and our planet.

When you know your life’s purpose, it’s energizing! You can more quickly identify and choose those actions that will help you live your purpose. And, when you are living your purpose, you are at your most confident and powerful. Exhibiting leadership comes more naturally because you know what you want, you know what you’re willing to fight for, and when you fight for something you know what you stand for and so do others. And, in this process, you define who you are and become increasingly more of who you are meant to be. This is how we unleash our leadership potential and create a more deeply, satisfying life.

Greater purpose and meaning are what many of us seek today, particularly in this time of uncertainty and upheaval in the world. A recent Google search for “life + purpose” yielded 3.5 billion results (vs. 786 million results two years ago when I googled this). Another search for “business + purpose” produced over 2.3 billion results (vs. just over 1 billion results two years ago).

Aaron Hurst’s best-selling book, The Purpose Economy (updated in 2016), talks about purpose as the new driving force of the economy and says it has become a business imperative.  Hurst says that “the Purpose Economy is defined by the quest for people to have more purpose in their lives,” explaining “it is an economy where value lies in establishing purpose for employees and customers – through serving needs greater than their own, enabling personal growth and building community.”

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which puts “self-actualization” at the top of this famous, five-tiered pyramid, is one reason the Purpose Economy continues to evolve, Hurst says. These innate needs have been intensified in recent years by the heightened polarization in politics and government, the growing economic divide, increasing gun violence and global climate change. Gen Z is becoming more purpose-driven to have a say in the increasingly dire future they are inheriting. Millennials, too, who saw their parents lose their jobs and retirement savings in the aftermath of The Great Depression of 2008 have embraced the importance of purpose instead of lifetime loyalty to an employer. So, too, Boomers – nearly half of them are in retirement – are now more strongly focused on legacy in the final chapter of their lives.

Whether you’re 16 or 60, discovering your life purpose is a better way to jump start the New Year – and the rest of your life. Here are some inspiring life purpose statements I’ve helped craft for clients, ranging from college students to young professionals to mid-career and established professionals to C-Suite executives and entrepreneurs. Whatever your age, every adult can benefit from discovering and living their purpose.

Every life purpose statement is specific to the individual and what matters most for them to accomplish in their one very brief and precious life. Some life purpose statements are more “personal” and growth-focused; some are more “social” and focused on relationships; while others are focused on “societal” impact like these:

Personal purpose, more growth-focused:

  • My purpose in life is to do something every day to realize the most exuberant life I can imagine for myself and help others do the same so that, together, we can bring more love and joy to the planet! (Client/Member, Professional Women’s Group, Dress for Success)
  • My purpose in life is to live healthfully and share what I learn about healthy lifestyles to inspire well-being in others. (Workplace wellness consultant)
  • My purpose in life is to create opportunities for myself and others to grow, savor dear friendships, and always make time to laugh. (M&A executive)

Social purpose, more focused on relationships:

  • My purpose in life is to help people care for and protect their loved ones for generations to come. (Wealth management advisor)
  • My purpose in life is to help others be the CEOs of their own lives so they can contribute strongly to the people and world around them. (Vistage International Chair)
  • My purpose in life is to help myself and others flourish and, specifically, to help disadvantaged communities bloom through sustainable, economic growth. (MBA Student, University of Michigan)

Societal purpose, more focused on impacting society:

  • My purpose in life is to connect women to their power to help them succeed and invest in their ability to build businesses that positively impact the world. (President of a Global Professional Women’s Network)
  • My purpose in life is to spark a movement to create systemic change that will improve the health of children. (CEO of a nonprofit focused on children’s health)
  • My purpose in life is to help people see the unseen world, including the beauty of our endangered planet. (Young professional photographer)
  • My purpose in life is to communicate the exciting stories of transformation taking place in Africa to challenge and inspire Africans to work together to create a brighter future for our continent. (CEO of a communications firm)

A life purpose statement that is accurate, inspiring and galvanizing to you will focus and drive you to accomplish what matters most to you.  And living your purpose is a definite competitive advantage in business and life, helping you achieve your goals and dreams in the most efficient way to make the most of your one very brief and precious life.  And isn’t that what we all want in 2020 and beyond?

About the Author: After an award-winning PR & Marketing career and co-founding three agencies, Patrice Tanaka started Joyful Planet, working with individuals and organizations to discover and actively live their purpose and unleash greater success, fulfillment and joy in their personal lives, in their workplaces and in their communities. Life and organizational purpose are the subjects of Patrice’s best-selling books, Beat the Curve and Performance360. Patrice has been honored by PRWeek (Hall of Fame inductee), PRSA Foundation (Paladin Award), PRSA (Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service), among others. Reach Patrice via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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