Finding a life purpose may be a tricky business for some Analysts. When people talk about such matters, there often seems to be a sense that there is a singular, preordained thing called a “life purpose” that the Universe or our genes assigned to us at birth. And, in our research, more than half of all Analysts lean that way. But when compared to all other personality types, they tend to fall below the average for believing that they are on this earth to fulfill a particular mission. A large minority of Analyst personalities are likely to see “life purpose” as something predetermined, as mystical nonsense, or as a misunderstanding of genetics.
I want to acknowledge both types of Analysts here. So let’s talk about personal growth in a way that includes both a feeling of predestination and a natural, organic version of purpose that develops during a lifetime.
“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
Origins aside, a life purpose is a persistent motivating force that produces a sense of direction, which can lead to a series of time-limited goals (outcomes). When met, it produces a sense of a meaningful and satisfying life. It becomes part of a person’s identity. Life purpose is the energy that drives all parts of one’s life in some way. It’s a self-organizing function based on passions and competency. A life purpose may or may not change several times in a lifetime. Finding a direction and ways to fulfill it is right up the strategy-loving Analyst personality types’ alley.
A lot of research, much of it still in its infancy, connects having a sense of purpose with overall well-being and mental health. But we still need a lot more research. Are people healthier because they have a life purpose, or do they have a life purpose because they are healthier? Either way, that suggests that purpose carries weight either as a cause or an effect of well-being. And it’s probably good to have some idea what yours is.
So let’s say you don’t yet know your life purpose, and you want to find one. Finding a life purpose is an ongoing and sometimes lengthy process. But here are suggestions that might boost your efforts and speed the process some. Perhaps reviewing your personality type’s profile, linked at the top of this article, can help you look at your own life.
Pick the One or Two Things That Fascinate You Most
This would be an obvious suggestion for most people. But note the word most. Analysts value knowledge and reason so much that their desire to know things sometimes creates an extensive list of that which intrigues them. This may be especially true of the Prospecting personalities among them. So many captivating things to explore. So little time to dedicate to them all.
It might help to set a timer for 15 minutes and make such a list, titled “What Engages My Interest Most.” Then prioritize what you come up with, number one being the most important and so on. See if the top two or three have anything in common. They might. This list might not instantly reveal your life purpose, but it might offer clarity by sorting out what’s most important to you.
Do a Skills and Skill Interest Inventory
It does no good to have a life purpose if you don’t have the skills or can’t attain the skills to realize it. Turn that around, and maybe what you do well can inform your life purpose. What do you do best now? What do you do that makes you fairly unique? And let’s not discount potential. Think also about the skills you don’t have yet but would like to gain. What yet-to-be-explored talents feel like they would be an excellent fit, if you took the time to perfect them?
Does coding just seem to run out of your fingers and onto the screen effortlessly? Can you persuade others easily using critical-thinking skills? Do you always find yourself thrust into a leadership position? Does your uncanny ability to dole out excellent advice to friends make you want to take a course in counseling? Are you fascinated enough with human development that you take pleasure in being a parent, guiding and watching your own children’s growth? What do you do best?
Develop or Review Your Personal Philosophy
A life purpose needs answers to one of the most basic questions for anything: “Why?” The steps above looked at “What?” But to really put “purpose” into life purpose, you may want to know what you believe and how that motivates you.
For people who live intentionally, vision and direction usually spring from having a reasonably clear and committed personal philosophy. (Fortunately, developing a unique personal philosophy is something that Intuitive personality types like Analysts do well.) If you’re not sure of your personal philosophy, one way to discover it may be to spend some time writing, editing, and rewriting an exploration of the things you consider important about life.
For example, if you have a firm and passionate belief that science and technology can cure all the ills of society, and you also believe that inequality is one of those ills, you might become an advocate for closing the digital homework gap. Your volunteer or professional work might involve getting relevant technology into the hands of students. Your personal philosophy and values would largely compel this mission.
Putting It All Together
Two more steps might help solidify the process: (1) write a personal mission statement or vision, and (2) reduce your plan and purpose into a brief “elevator pitch.” The mission statement should be short (some experts advise three to five sentences) and the elevator pitch even shorter (a 15- to 30-second sound bite). The mission statement is a succinct and uncomplicated definition of your purpose, and the elevator pitch is, in this case, less about networking and more like a motto. Both should reinforce any conclusion you come to about your life purpose.
Finding a life purpose is often about combining the things you believe with the things you can do and turning that combination into deeply considered action. And, really, life purposes don’t all have to have an “I’m going to save the world” tone to them. With a bias toward altruism, we can sometimes put a burden on someone’s life purpose. It’s your life. The three areas discussed above are yours to do anything you want with. Who’s to say there is anything wrong with the life purpose of getting rich or living a hedonistic definition of the good life? No judgment here.
There is no particular order for these steps. Arrange them as you like. They can easily take place simultaneously and even effortlessly. But it might be helpful to take the time to map out the three components and get an idea of how they might all fit together into a life purpose, especially if you’re not sure what that means for you. Deconstruct and define your interests, skills, and philosophy, and see if a strategy for your direction in life emerges.
Are you an Analyst personality type who has explored or reevaluated your life purpose before? What other strategies have you found useful? Let us know in the comments below.
- Your life purpose doesn’t have to center on your career, but a job that supports your philosophy and values can be more rewarding than one that doesn’t. For ideas, check out our two-part series on Analyst career compatibility.
- If you’re unsure of your direction in life, don’t panic. Here are three ways that Analyst personalities can deal with uncertainty.
- Did you know that our members’ Academy can help you explore life areas like personal and professional growth with interactive courses and exercises tailored to your personality type? Learn more here.