Purpose Exercises

Listen here (or read below)



Exercise 1: Five Whys

  • Ask yourself “Why do I do what I do?”
  • Write down the answer
  • Ask yourself “Why do I do this?” about the answer that you have just written down
  • Repeat this questioning four more times
  • Explore where you ended up

This questioning from Lean methodology is likely to take you closer to your reason for being and your purpose. It is even more powerful when done between two people, each helping the other get a clearer sense of purpose and building on each answer to the question.






Reflect on what happened together. What does this surface about the ‘why’ of your life?

How does this translate into a purpose statement?




Exercise 2: The Purposeful Journey

Finding purpose and meaning is almost always the result of a learning process. This exercise helps people understand the journey of finding purpose in life. It is based on the model developed by Dattner Group from the work of Roger van Oech 5 , the author of ‘A Kick in the Seat of the Pants’ and ‘A Whack on the Side of the Head’.

Step One – Explore. In explorer mode, you are curious about yourself and your possibilities. You don’t restrict yourself and are open to all ideas, suggestions, and possibilities. You learn – research, read, talk to different people, question, and try lots of things. You identify and let go of your assumptions and blockages. You experiment and don’t fear failure.

Step Two – Create. When you are exploring the world of purpose, you may find it hard to articulate exactly why you are leaning a certain way. At this stage, it is important to let your intuition guide you. What is your gut (not your head) saying to you? Don’t try and determine right or wrong; simply test an idea or a direction. See how it fits for you. Check your limiting beliefs because sometimes those things that limit us to the greatest extent are not real but imagined. Consider ‘what if…’ Give yourself some space and time for deep reflection and embrace the artist within.

Step Three – Evaluate. At this stage, you are giving careful consideration to your options in the role of judge. Weigh up the pros and cons of the various options thinking about the upside and the downside, and ultimately deciding which choice fits you best and has the greatest chance of success in keeping with your preferences. The key to using the role of the judge is to ensure that you are employing this role at the right stage and not too early. Seek wise counsel. Consider the implications of any unintended consequences.

Step Four – Act. This is when you are ready to become a warrior, passionate about your putting your purpose into practice. Bring together your supporters, not critics, as your cheer squad. Face your fears and focus your resources.

At each stage note down your thoughts. It’s useful to use a reflection journal to capture your thoughts, experiment with them, try them on and see how they fit. Give yourself space to reflect and refine. Don’t get stuck here. Progress, not perfection, is the mantra. Keep moving forward to the next stage. This is something that you can keep coming back to. Remember, uncovering your purpose is a journey of exploration.





Where are you psychologically in the following areas:

  1. Self – explorer, artist, judge, warrior?
  2. Relationships – explorer, artist, judge, warrior?
  3. Work – explorer, artist, judge, warrior?

Choose one area to explore in more depth with your partner

How does this translate into a purpose statement?