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Career Direction: How to Find Your Life Purpose

Considering what has been significant and meaningful in your life can help you determine your purpose.

Finding your life purpose, or your “why,” can give you direction in your life and career. But it isn’t something you can make up; it’s something you uncover about yourself.1 Answering questions to help you recall what you have considered significant and meaningful throughout your life can be very effective in helping determine your purpose.

Recalling Positive Personal Life Experiences

A good place to start is by asking yourself the following questions about the most fulfilling, happy, and memorable times in your life:

Career Direction: How to Find Your Life Purpose

  • What things do you love to do and what seems to come easily to you? Are you a natural leader? Do you love working with children? Are you at your best when helping someone else? Pay attention to those things that seem to come easily to you, that are enjoyable, and that others appreciate.
  • What types of things give you energy? Perhaps you’re someone who enjoys interacting with others and is very energized after hosting a community event; or you may be someone who enjoys spending quiet time reading but is equally excited about the new ideas you discovered. It’s also important to pay attention to the things that drain your energy for clues about what may not be your purpose.
  • When have you experienced the most joy in your life? Think about the times you were involved in something that made you feel strong or happy. What activity were you doing? Were you helping someone in particular? Were you expressing yourself in a certain way? Think about what these times had in common and look for possible patterns.

Recalling Issues That Affected or Influenced You

Answering the following questions can shed light on issues and situations that have had a strong impact on you, or that you have strong feelings and opinions about:2

  • What causes do you feel strongly about, or who would you really like to help?2 There are many problems and issues to solve in the world. Has something happened in your life that makes you want to fix a certain type of problem or injustice? Your feelings and reactions can give you hints about what you might find meaningful to be involved in and associated with.
  • What personal qualities or values do you most like to express to others?1 Some people value helping others learn something new, while others value making others laugh and smile or feel better physically. What qualities of yours do you most enjoy sharing with others?
  • If the world was operating perfectly, what would it look like for you?1 Ask yourself what qualities, skills, and talents you might use to help make that “perfect world” happen, and what that would mean to you.

Discovering your life purpose isn’t something that will happen overnight, but answering these questions can help you start to figure out what it might be. A big part of finding purpose is listening to your “inner compass,” or intuition, to help you know you’re moving in the right direction.

Translating Your Life Purpose Into a Fulfilling Career

Doing the work to figure out your purpose can give you a head start in determining what might be a fulfilling career for you. Career assessments3—which provide information on your values, interests, personality, aptitude, and skills—can help you explore careers that might be a good fit for you and help you decide what type of education to pursue.

If you are considering a change in career direction, perhaps something related to social change, one of the main ways to build your qualifications is to continue your lifelong learning by pursuing higher education—perhaps a college degree through an online education program. If you are a working professional, earning a degree online from a reputable online university such as Walden University may be something to consider. With Walden, you don’t have to take a break from your career to pursue a postsecondary education, and its Career Planning and Development Center provides students with tools to assess interests and skills, explore careers, research industries and occupations, and identify job opportunities.

Knowing your purpose can help you make decisions that can lead to a fulfilling and satisfying life, and earning a degree online can help you find a career that aligns with your life purpose.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,