the most overlooked secret to finding your purpose


How does anybody really figure out what they’re “meant” to do?

And once you do that, do you find a way to make it into a career?

What’s the difference between a career/purpose and making a living?

Are they always the same thing, and how do you figure out if those things overlap or not?

I received these thoughtful questions from a reader a few weeks ago when I asked for content suggestions.

They also happen to mirror a lot of conversations during the first Life with Intention Online class last week. So today I’d like to clarify and share an often overlooked aspect of purpose.


The Overlooked Secret to Finding Your Purpose


After studying and writing about purpose for many years, I believe there is a simple equation for purpose.

 It’s clear. It’s concise.

And (most importantly) it is universally true. 

In order to survive and thrive as a species over thousands of years, we had to look out for one another moment-to-moment.

So nature hardwired us to seek ways to benefit the group’s survival by producing surges of the “feel good” chemicals serotonin and oxytocin when we help and serve others. 

However, this simple truth about present moment service as our true purpose is often overlooked in today’s world.

Instead of focusing on how we can serve others today – perhaps even in this dreadful job – we spend time dreaming about a specific career or role in our lives that might produce a sense of unending “purpose” that will forever fulfill us and perhaps even bring us a healthy paycheck along the way.

And this is where we can get tripped up.

Being a doctor, a stationery designer, or a mother can never be our sole “purpose” in the truest sense because roles are impermanent. 

Each one of those things can be taken away (lose the job, get into financial trouble with the business, and God forbid, something happens to your children) and then we are left with… a purpose-less life? 

Or, what about the many years before we started that business, had that first child, or got that degree? Were we purpose-less then? What happens to purpose when we retire, or get injured and are unable to perform our duties?

What about children who died young? Did they “lack purpose” because they did not have a career or offspring?

Of course not.

That’s why purpose is about using each day as an opportunity to improve the lives of those around us.

Even if we don’t like our jobs.

Even if we don’t have a job.

Even if we don’t feel particularly passionate about anything.

We still have the same purpose we will have for the rest of our lives right NOW.


The Good News


However, there is some good news: roles and purpose can work together!

Once we can completely connect to the idea that purpose is about present moment service, we get to move onto how we would like to serve going forward.

So, how would you like to help others in this moment? This year?

That’s it.

Just answer that question. How would you like to express your love and serve other people?

In a job you don’t like? Consider looking for a new one or approaching the current one in a different way.

Want to start a business on the side? Find a way to get three people to pay you for your services or products over the next four weeks.

When you no longer attach permanence to your role, you have a plethora of possibilities!

Don’t let the many options you may have scare you, though. Keep things simple. Ask your gut what you should do first and go do that thing.

Then, as you move forward in one direction, you might find that you feel pulled towards another path later.

As long as we serve others in whatever situation we are in, we are fulfilling our purpose and not a moment is wasted.

The only way we can “waste” our lives is by withholding service to those around us in the present moment while we wait for something “better.”




To summarize, we often overlook it, but our purpose is to serve others in the present moment wherever we happen to be.

And when it comes to roles in our lives, we can choose how we want to serve in this stage in our lives without attaching permanence to that decision.

We can let things percolate, progress, and pivot with a purposeful playfulness.

So take a deep breath and enjoy some feel good chemicals!

Go help someone today and you are on your way.


May something wonderful happen to you today,

PS – Want to explore purpose and intentions deeper? Join me in an upcoming Life with Intention Online class!


This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. I absolutely love this, thank you for sharing. I have to continue to remind myself of the importance of being present. I just love how you have simplified and clarified this, thank you for sharing!

  2. Kaly Sullivan

    Great post – this is something that I have struggled with a lot until recently because I judged my career for being all over the place, and I have been really unsure about what is next for me. But once I broke down what I’ve done and what I might want to do, I started to see that my purpose was the common theme across all of my different roles even though it manifested itself in very different ways. Bottom line – not quite as lost as I thought! Always a good feeling.

    1. That is wonderful to hear, Kaly! I’m happy to hear you are recognizing the purpose within the doing. : )

  3. Marta

    One of the best, if not the best article I read about purpose + doing what you love + etc.

    “As long as we serve others in whatever situation we are in, we are fulfilling our purpose and not a moment is wasted.” This piece actually brought tears to my eye.

    Beautiful!! Thank you for so much wisdom.

  4. Gina Palha

    This post + these words are so beautiful. Oh Jess, you can make miracles with words 🙂
    This is the real life intention + loved it from the bottom of my heart. Seriously + truthfully.

  5. Lauren

    Beautiful. This needs to be the next wallpaper! 🙂

    1. That’s a great idea! Are you thinking the purpose = serving in the present moment part?

  6. Brittany Rogers

    WOW! This blog post just served me in so many meaningful ways! I get it now. I get what my purpose is. Thank you!

  7. Brittany Rogers

    Neglected to mention how the simplicity and direct content you’ve included fired the WOW factor for me! Thank you again.

  8. Annie

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful post! I think you’ve said things along these lines before, but for some reason this post felt even more freeing and giving of permission to get out there and feel purposeful today, regardless of current circumstances. What wonderful encouragement to remember to give ourselves grace and embrace the current the moment! Thank you again.

    1. That’s awesome to hear, Annie! After seven years of study, working on the Life with Intention Online class content and new direction overall has really helped me get more clarity, so I’m happy to hear you are feeling that as well. : )

      Have a great day!

  9. Your examples were spot-on! I’ll join the throng that loves this post 🙂 I’ve already sent it to two friends going through troubles like this!

  10. kamurphy7

    Great post, wonderful comments. This is so true to live a purpose driven life. The other mantra that pairs so well with this is the idea that I must give up the illusion that I deserve a problem free life. I am much less interested in the right circumstances than in the right RESPONSES to whatever comes my way!

    1. SO great! And yes, totally true. I was just listening to a podcast by Jim Rohn that said, “Don’t wish for less problems. Wish for more skills.” Totally aligns with your awesome insight!

      Have a great weekend!

  11. Jessica Campion

    I let this post sit on my Feedly a few days, but I’m so glad I did because this moment is exactly when I needed to hear this message. Thank you for continuously inspiring!

    1. : ) That is an awesome coincidence!

      (PS – Did you know that coincidences aren’t actually “flukes,” but they are actually things that align perfectly? I never knew that was the mathematical definition from which the word originates, but it’s true!)

  12. Samantha Attard

    WOW. Thank you Jess for this lovely post. A corollary of this that I often think about is “How can I be a leader in this situation?” Meaning, “how can I create an environment of productive and positive interactions?”

    But your wording really makes that call more full — it speaks to living your life and effecting positive change now, whether you are alone or with others.

    Thanks, Jess!

    1. That is great to hear, Sam! I’m glad this has helped you – and I love your point about leadership in situations. Such a great and proactive outlook!

  13. Belinda @ MyOodle

    Love this idea and happy to say that was my original and starting out intention, joining people together with a similar interest. It feels good, you’re right.

  14. Vicki

    I love the thought of thinking of something that 3 people would pay you to do to start something on the side. Such a perfect way to start small and build up on it.

  15. Jen

    I have been listening to many of your podcasts over the past month and am so appreciative of the work you do. This article breathed some life into me today. Thank you!

  16. Laura Hemmerling

    Hi Jess,

    Thank you so much for sharing!! I recently got back from a 3 month trip to Peru, where I felt like I had purpose daily. Before I left, I sold my house, found homes for my pets and quit my job, as I felt it was time for a big change (followed my intuition). I was hoping to get some clarity while traveling, but since coming back to Canada, I have felt nothing but more confusion! At least when I was traveling, I was DOING something, but now I feel as though I am just wandering aimlessly. Your podcast was an excellent reminder that I am doing just the opposite, and that it is up to me to take ACTION and continue living in the moment.


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