Lynn and Doug Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

It’s the beginning of the year and many people want to chart their course for the year and have a purposeful life.

In planning your life, why is it important to have a life purpose anyway? At a conference some time ago, I (Lynn) spoke right after Richard Leider, author of "The Power of Purpose." He gave an engaging presentation. Needless to say, he was a tough act to follow!

We learned about the critical importance of purpose. He shared that when people don’t have a sense of purpose, they often feel bored, anxious and depressed. That happens because minds often go to the negative when there’s no positive force directing them. He also shared that having a sense of purpose gives one a reason to get up each day.

When people know their purpose they have enhanced self-esteem, confidence, competence, and are better able to deal with difficulties and challenges. Also, they tend to have hope for a better life. Steve Taylor, PhD, said, “Purpose is a fundamental component of a fulfilling life.”

We are clarifying our purpose for our lives and our business. This will act as a guide for our actions this year. We realize that purpose provides the passion that will keep us motivated to achieve our goals. We know that part of our purpose is to do the best work we can to help more people be happier in all areas of their life. So, we ask you, “What is your life’s purpose?"

In case you don’t have an answer to this question, we’ll share five tips to help you discover your life’s purpose:

1. Identify your interests. Notice what fires you up and gets you excited. And notice what gives you peace. Ask yourself these questions: What are you doing when you are so engrossed in something that you lose track of time? What do you enjoy talking about? What do you explore on the Internet? What do you enjoy reading? When have you experienced the most joy? When have you felt most fulfilled? What comes easily to you? The answers to these questions will give you clues to your life’s purpose.

2. Identify your strengths. Write down all the things you love to do and that other people say you do well. What are the top one or two? You have a unique combination of strengths, skills and experience. How can you use these in a way that would bring joy to you? Also, research shows that when people do things for others they become happier — so, what can you do that would benefit others?

3. Explore options. If you are wondering if doing something would give you a sense of purpose, try to get an internship or volunteer position so you can try it out. Think about where you want to be and the people you would most enjoy working with and helping. This is an excellent way to try something before fully diving in with further education or training.

4. Take a passion test. By identifying what you are passionate about, it helps you find your purpose. There’s a test developed by Chris and Janet Attwood where you fill in the following statement 15 times – “When my life is ideal, I am ____.” The word(s) must contain a verb. For example, “When my life is ideal I am helping others to be happier.” Compare your answers and weed out the less attractive choices until you end up with your five top choices. Then look to see if you are living these now and how you can in the future. If you are passionate about something, you enjoy it and it can lead to a purposeful life.

5. Discover the common themes. Once you know your why, your strengths and the people and place that would be a fit for you, it’s time to look at the themes that seem to appear in the various situations. Finding your purpose is not just about work or a job. It can be about finding what is satisfying to you as you share your gifts and talents. For example, it could be that you find your purpose in gardening and making the landscape more beautiful.

What about you: What is your life’s purpose?

If you want to find your life’s purpose, try the tips we suggested. Be sure to ask others for their thoughts, as they will often see your strengths clearly. Discovering and living your life’s purpose will help you have an even more meaningful and fulfilling life.

Chanhassen residents, Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at


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