Free self development lessons for Humanity

Living with purpose


Otermans Institute

at rural Lahm, Uttarakhand, India

Gerard Jansen

Trainer &  Head of Operations, Otermans Institute

Chief Product Officer, Solar Botanic

Researcher, Brunel University London

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Living with purpose



Finding your reason to get out of bed

Your passion

Your mission

Your profession

Your vocation

Putting it together

Tips & Exercises for the 'lockdown'


Imagine already looking forward to the next weekend, when the previous one has just gone by. God, it’s a Monday again! That kind of feeling. That’s five days of the week you look forward to skipping, so you can live for 2 days only to go through the same cycle again. Now imagine going to bed on Sunday evening, excited to get up the next morning and wishing there were 7 days to spend working before the next weekend starts. Which of these scenarios would you choose?




W-H-Y, three letters with large substance. Why requests for a reason. Why did you do that? Why did you go there? Too many people miss a “reason for being” in life. It goes back to the age-old question; “Why are we here?” It turns out you can answer that question for yourself. You can find out what your reason for being is, and it gets better since it's not even that difficult. Understanding your purpose is critical in building a joyful life and it can be achieved by a simple task, if done properly.


Why did you get up this morning? Is it because that is what you did yesterday? If that is the case, it means that you have no idea what you want to get out of your life. When we go through life, we are either working on achieving our goals, or someone else’s goals. As you have learned in our lesson on setting SMART goals, it is extremely motivating to have goals that are aligned with a bigger purpose.


So, having a purpose and aligning goals to this will help you keep control over your life, make decisions that will make you happy in the long-run and give value to the things you do on a daily basis. Also note that this feeling of “why” is dynamic, things change and our focus evolves, but this feeling to achieve, create and look forward to should remain constant. This is the feeling behind the “why”.


Finding your reason to get out of bed


A purpose is different for everyone and your culture, upbringing, friends and the world around you can all influence it. One person’s purpose can be to find a cure for cancer, while his or her sibling’s purpose could be to care for the elderly. Some people find their purpose by accident, others know it for as long as they can remember. However, if you don’t know it from a young age and don’t want to wait for it to accidentally come to you, you can find out your purpose in a simple and effective way. The only things required are a pen, couple of pieces of paper and enough time to reflect honestly on yourself.


In Japan, millions of people call this “ikigai” (pronounce “ick-ee-guy”) and find it in a remarkably simple and effective way. In finding their reason for being, the Japanese reflect on themselves and the world around them. Listing the answers to these four questions, and sometimes with a good dose of creativity to connect the dots, will help you find it:


1. What do you love to do?

2. What does the world need?

3. What am I good at?

4. What can I get paid for?

Your passion


Are you already passionate about something? Maybe you can’t wait to cook your next Michelin-star worthy dish? When you think about what you love and what you are good at, look at the similarities between them. Where these two lists overlap, you can find your passion. Chances are that you have become good at something simply because you love it so much and have effortlessly been practicing it. You know that that is your passion. For others it can be eye-opening to see that there is something they love but they are not good at it yet. Now you know it is time to get good at it and make it your passion, so start exploring today!


Your mission


This is your personal life motto, not to be mistaken with a company’s mission. This is what you want to contribute to the world; the achievements and characteristics you want to be remembered by. See it as building your personal brand: Who you are, and how people perceive you. More importantly, it is your answer to this all important question: “Who am I?”


Your mission can be to give your family the best future possible, and for many people I know it is something that can give value to others. Value comes when you can combine what you love with what others need. This way you will get a sense of gratitude while working towards your mission and you will avoid getting distracted from it. Remember when others are involved, even as some form of end user, accountability increases.


Writing your own mission statement and reviewing this daily will help you in developing a mindset that will help you achieve your mission. Also here, it is okay to be slightly flexible and adapt when necessary, as just like life itself is dynamic, your perceptions and goals should be as well. Write a positive, concise mission statement and keep it close to your list of goals so that you will be excited about the possibilities that are there for you!


Your profession


Ask yourself, are you good at what you get paid for? And are there any parts that you enjoy? Everybody needs to pay their bills, right? However, the way you pay these bills is completely up to you. The profession you choose is of unmeasurable importance for your happiness. Since every week has 5 workdays and only 2 days of weekend, a large part of the week your focus will be on your profession. Even while not at work, we actively and regularly make sacrifices for it. For example, when you go to bed early to have an extra hour at work the next day and ignore the book you wanted to read at night. Understanding who you are and what you want out of life will greatly benefit you in choosing the right profession, thereby giving meaning to the time you spend at your job. If you are still studying, ask yourself: “Is the degree I am pursuing sending me in the right direction for the profession I want take up? Is it in line with my targets and life's mission?”


You can check our 80,000 hours, which is a cool initiative to make the work we do count and meaningful. Why is it called 80,000 hours? Well, because it is said that it is the amount of time an average person spends working in their life time.


Your vocation


We at Otermans Institute define your vocation as that thing you can contribute which the world needs, and you can get paid for doing it. Your vocation is your calling, it is something deeply embedded in you and you feel compelled to do. It doesn’t need to be something you love to do or are particularly good at, it is something that pulls you towards it.


For example, your love for nature may make you want to fight climate change. To do that, you might need to study a course with subjects that you are not good at and may not particularly like. However, you get through this because you see the bigger picture and know that finishing this course will help you work on your vocation.


Putting it together


When you have your passion, mission, profession and vocation figured out, see if you can find any threads that link all four parts together. What common themes are coming up? Here you will find your purpose; the way you can use your talents and interests to serve the needs of someone else. Don’t worry if you can’t see it directly, it will come to you with time and reflecting often on it will help you in this process. You will be able to create a vision for yourself. This is the strategic direction of your life. How are you going to go after your purpose? Which choices do you need to make that will bring you closer to where you want to be? What sacrifices are you willing to make today, to get you where you want to be tomorrow?


Tips & Exercises for the 'lock down'


Now is the perfect time to evaluate your life and give true meaning to it.


Self: Take the time over the next couple of days and start to find your mission in life; your ‘ikigai’. You can try doing this in one sitting, but chances are high that you need to repeat this a couple of times. Think about how to connect the dots between the four key questions outlined in the first part of this lesson. Make notes while doing this, and regularly review them to start seeing the patterns. Once you do, you will find it beautiful!


Understanding your passion, mission and reason for being you will be able to give the right direction to your life. Once you have found it, write it down or print it in bold and place it somewhere you can see it when you wake up every morning.


Family: Show your purpose to your family members and tell them how you got there. Discuss together how each member of the family can contribute to your purpose.

You can also encourage them to generate their own purpose and each member or friend, if they are stuck with you in the lockdown currently, can present it one day at a time. You can also do this over a digital call with close friends and family members living away from you.


We look forward to hearing from you what your purpose is, and your plans on how to live a life with this purpose! You can connect with us using the form below.

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