How to Create a Purpose Statement

By: Jami Coffman

The following article was taken from

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

– Mark Twain

Do you want to lead your organization well and with exceptional performance?  Do you want to be less prone to disease and have greater well-being?  A key element that has been identified for all of these is having a clear purpose.  Because of its impact, the interest in purpose-driven leadership only continues to grow.

So, what is a purpose?  Nick Craig and Scott Snook in their Harvard Business Review article, From Purpose to Impact, describe it as, “Your leadership purpose is who you are and what makes you distinctive… It’s not what you do, it’s how you do your job and why.”

Putting our purpose into words is not always easy.  It is such a deep core of who we are that we can struggle with how to describe it.  But, once you find the words, it is amazing the clarity that it brings.  When working to describe your purpose, it is important to allow reflective time, space, and to give yourself permission for it to be a process.

When helping people discover their purpose, I describe it as an intersection of your strengths with your passions to have an impact on the world around you.  Here are some key components to reflect on when searching to create a purpose statement:


Your strengths are the unique way you are wired.  No one else in the world is exactly like you.  Your strengths are your talents, natural abilities, and unique makeup.  Our strengths often come easily to us and bring a lot of satisfaction.  School subjects and activities that we do well in can give indicators of our strengths.  Sometimes people will use assessments, such as Strengths Finder or the Attribute Index, to help them identify their strengths.  However, with a purpose statement it is important that the words you use to describe your strengths resonate with you.  So, feel free to use assessments to help in the process but also give yourself freedom to choose words that fit you.

What are your strengths, talents and natural abilities?


So, you have a unique set of strength, now what?  Maybe you have strengths in strategy, problem solving and learning.  You might become an engineer and work at a manufacturing company.  Or, you could become a leader that runs an organization to support disabled children.  Where you apply your strengths can vary because your strengths could be used for many types of endeavors.  Our passions are what direct us to where we use our unique wiring.  Passions are the ‘why’ to what we do.  They are our natural motivators that come from the inside.  Therefore, passions also help us to gain clarity and are an important component to our purpose.

What are you passionate about?  What gives you energy for each day?


Your purpose is not lived in a vacuum.  Part of the power of a purpose is being able to see the impact it has.  We have all been placed in a particular time and place for a reason.  Impact brings meaning to our lives.  Do you have a way of caring that speaks to others deeply?  Are you able to fix things that make life easier for others?  Do you help to create brilliant ideas?  Think beyond your work.  Since our purpose is so core to which we are, it tends to flow out into all areas of our lives.  You may want to ask others about how they see you having impact.

When you think about the unique way you have impact, what does that look like?

Pulling it all together

Putting your purpose into words is a process and journey.  With the above components you will want to take time to journal, ask for other’s input, listen, throw out what doesn’t fit, and keep what does.  Also give yourself freedom to write something down and then to be able to change it.  Often discovering the words to your purpose is a process of tweaking and inspiration.  Most of all, whatever you write needs to resonate in your heart.  When you read the words, it will bring energy to your soul.  A true purpose will also give you clarity.  It will help you to know what to say ‘yes’ to and what to say ‘no’ to.

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