Are You Living Your Purpose? Here’s How to Know for Sure


If not, it's time to take action.

Woman on a rock looking out over the oceanThis quiz was written by Melanie Dimmit and Rebecca Hanley.

Nietzsche once said, “If we have our own why in life, we shall get along with almost any how.” So in the interest of nine-to-five happiness the world over, it’s time to check if your ‘why’ is in alignment with how you bring home the bacon.

Because it’s not about what you do, but why you do it. Living your ‘why’ in your working life means finding the sweet spot between what you care about, what lights you up, what makes you ‘you’ and, potentially, connecting with something greater than yourself.

“If we have our own why in life, we shall get along with almost any how.”

Your ‘why’ comprises several elements – your values, your passion, your impact and your authenticity. You need to be satisfying all four elements to be living your why. Want to know how you’re tracking? Have a think about what each of these four categories entails in your own life, then follow the prompts below – it’s time for a life audit.

What to do? Take note of each statement that rings true for you. If you tick at least two out of three points for each element, give yourself a big mental tick for that element of your why. If only one rings true, read on and see what you can do to help live your why.


Your values could be health, finances, family and friends, creativity, social responsibility, the environment, a flexible lifestyle… you name it.

☐ I prioritise what is important to me
☐ My work allows space for what I value
☐ What I do aligns with my values


Is writing your thing, do numbers float your boat, or can you not go a week without trying the latest dessert? See if work = passion.

☐ My friends say I light up when I talk about work
☐ If money were no object, I would keep doing what I’m doing
☐ At least one thing I am good at and enjoy doing is part of my job description


Your impact could be anything from changing the world to brightening the day of that customer you served with a smile.

☐ I’m contributing to a company or cause I care about (beyond my bank account)
☐ What I do benefits the life of at least one other person
☐ I am changing a small patch of the world in some way via my work for the better


You, yes you, without the mask.

☐ I am being unapologetically me at work
☐ I have consciously chosen this path rather than trying to satisfy others’ expectations
☐ I feel like I am following my calling


Decoding your results

Not living your ‘why’? It’s time to focus on how you can strengthen the areas that are holding you back. If your answers made it clear that your work doesn’t nurture one area, whether it’s your values, passion, impact or authenticity (or all four!), it’s time to take action.


First up, identify your values: what areas of your life guide your decision-making? Do you shape your life around travel, personal growth, wealth, relationships, freedom, changing the world? How can you start to make your working life incorporate these priorities?


Not sure of your passion? What do you think about, talk about, do in your downtime? What gets you out of bed in the morning (it could be dashing to read the news headlines, hear your favourite podcast or have your daily run). Get out your pen and paper, talk to the people that know you most and be brutally honest with yourself.


What sort of impact would you most like to make on the world? Which causes are close to your heart – is it social inequality, animals, the environment? Once you’ve identified the area in which you’d most like to make a difference, can you now integrate it into your current job – or can you envision a role where you could?


Not being true to yourself in your working life? Could it be out of fear, or is it a reluctance to step out of your comfort zone? Identify the belief that’s holding you back from being your authentic self, for example, “I’m scared I’ll fail.” Now flip that fear around and reframe it: “I’m so excited to succeed.” Stick it on a Post-it, somewhere you’ll see it every day, to motivate you to show up as – and only for a gig that allows you to be – your true self.

Lisa Messenger’s new book, Purpose, is now available for pre-sale here.


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