How to Discover Your Life’s Purpose from Today’s Leading Experts

March 29, 2023

by Cari Vollmer

Do you know your life’s purpose? Most people, at some point, wonder what theirs is. We search for meaning and hope that our lives carry special meaning. We sense, at a deep level, there is MORE to life. We can feel it.

Discovering your life’s purpose is more like putting together a big puzzle then it is finding a needle in a haystack. Like a puzzle, you need to fit the right pieces together and in time a picture starts to emerge. The picture that emerges will be made up of your special interests and talents and preferences. It will represent the whole of your life. Every piece is needed.

Unlike a puzzle you buy off a store shelf with all of the pieces already contained in the box, the pieces to your life purpose puzzle come to you one at a time, over a period of time. You will get each new piece when you are ready for it and not a day sooner. And unlike the puzzle you buy off the store shelf which supplies a picture of what the finished puzzle should look like, your life purpose puzzle has no such guide available. The picture that emerges will be one of a kind and each new piece will add depth and meaning to the whole.

The following experts have written about discovering your purpose in great detail. Below is a condensed version of their formulas and philosophies for discovering your life’s purpose.

Richard Bolles

Richard Bolles is most famous for his yearly job-hunting book, What Color is Your Parachute.

His formula for discovering your life’s “mission” is as follows:

1. To stand, hour by hour in the conscious presence of God, the One from whom your Mission is derived.

2. To do what you can, moment by moment, day by day, step by step, to make this world a better place, following the leading and guidance of God’s Spirit within you and around you.

3. a) to exercise that Talent which you particularly came to Earth to use – your greatest gift, which you most delight to use,

b) in the place(s) or setting(s) which God has caused to appeal to you the most,

c) and for those purposes which God most needs to have done in the world.

Whew! That’s a mouthful. Basically he is saying we all come here with a purpose to somehow SERVE our fellow man. We are given unique talents that, when leveraged, will be HOW we serve our fellow man. Our talents will provide the vehicle through which we express and share our gifts with others.

Special note: In What Color is Your Parachute the following quote can be found which offers a simple formula for discovering your purpose:

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Fred Buechner

Jack Canfield

Jack Canfield is America’s Success Coach and co-founder of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Canfield sums up purpose this way:

“You were born with an inner guidance system that tells you when you are on or off purpose by the amount of joy you are experiencing. The things that bring you the greatest joy are in alignment with your purpose”

He states what you are here to do is what will give you the greatest amount of joy when you are doing it. In his book, The Success Principles, he offers the following Life Purpose Exercise:

1. List two of your unique personal qualities, such as enthusiasm and creativity.

2. List one or two ways you enjoy expressing those qualities when interacting with others, such as to support and to inspire.

3. Assume the world is perfect right now. What does this world look like? How is everyone interacting with everyone else? What does it feel like? Write your answer as a statement, in the present tense, describing the ultimate condition, the perfect world as you see it and feel it. Remember, a perfect world is a fun place to be.

Example: Everyone is freely expressing their own unique talents. Everyone is working in harmony. Everyone is expressing love.

4. Combine the three prior subdivisions of this paragraph into a single statement.

Example: My purpose is to use my creativity and enthusiasm to support and inspire others to freely express their talents in a harmonious and loving way.

Finally, he states that without a purpose in life, it’s easy to get sidetracked on your life’s journey. It’s easy to wander and drift, accomplishing little.

But with purpose, everything in life seems to fall into place. To be “on purpose” means you’re doing what you love to do, doing what you’re good at and accomplishing what’s important to you.

Richard Leider & David Shapiro

In their book, Repacking Your Bags: How to Live with a New Sense of Purpose they write:

“Purpose is your reason for being, your answer to the question, “Why do I get up in the morning?” It is the spiritual core that helps us find the aliveness in all our day-to-day experiences.”

They go on to say, “You use your purpose to set your course in life. It’s the qualities around which you center yourself. Without a clear sense of purpose, you are at the mercy of shifting terrain of the outside world. Having a purpose, though, enables you to refind your direction and then direct your way there.

They offer the following formula for discovering your purpose:

(Your Talents + Your Passions + Your Preferred Environment) x Your Ideal Vision of Life = Lifestyle Rich in Purpose

Discover your unique talents and passions. Understand which environments you like to work best and put these things together in a way that serves the vision you have for Life.

How to Discover Your Life’s Purpose

The first step in discovering your life’s purpose is to believe there is a purpose to your life. The second step is to keep asking what that purpose is.

Nothing is going to drop from the sky announcing a grand purpose for your life. That is something you get to decide. You’ll discover your purpose when you put the unique puzzle pieces of your life together in a way that makes sense to you.

Each of the experts above has their own formula for discovering your purpose but they all have these things in common:

1. When living on purpose you are living from your center, your spiritual core/you are somehow connected to God

2. Living on purpose requires you to discover what makes you unique; talents, passions and values

3. Living on purpose requires you to leverage what makes you unique for the sake of serving others / making the world a better place.

4. When you live on purpose, your life will be filled with meaning and joy.

Discovering your purpose is a worthwhile pursuit and once you discover it your life will feel very on track. You will still need to do the work to bring your purpose to life. But your actions will be filled with meaning. There will be a depth to your life.

As Joseph Campbell writes in The Power of Myth, “We are having experiences all the time which may on occasion render some sense of this, a little intuition of where your bliss is. Grab it. No one can tell you what it is going to be. You have to learn to recognize your own depth.”

Author’s Bio

Cari Vollmer, founder of and creator of, simplifies personal growth by showing you step-by-step how to create and live a life that works well and feels great! To sign up for her FREE how to articles and no-charge 5-Day Feel Great Now E-Course visit

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4 Responses to “How to Discover Your Life’s Purpose from Today’s Leading Experts”

  1. Dave on March 30th, 2007 3:01 am

    I like the way you compared life with a puzzle. Discovering every piece and trying to fit the right one in the puzzle.
    Thanks for reminding us the purpose of our own life.

  2. Pamela on April 1st, 2007 8:57 pm

    An important matter we need to consider in our life is our purpose. I seldom see people who knows their purpose in life at a young age. Most of us live the first stage of our lives having fun. It is then that we recognize our purpose after reaching the second stage.

  3. Bored virgin gets plenty of action... on April 5th, 2007 11:08 pm

    [...] Bolles, author of “What Color Is Your Parachute?“, shares some of his thoughts in this article, I really thought I had to point to it! “Discovering your life’s purpose is more like [...]

  4. Life Optimizer - Live your life to the max on April 6th, 2007 4:54 am

    [...] How to Discover Your Life’s Purpose from Today’s Leading Experts by Cari VollmerI often write about life purpose. This article gives you tips on discovering your life purpose from several experts: Richard Bolles, Jack Canfield, Richard Leider and David Shapiro. If you like this post, please subscribe for regular updates. [...]

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