Many elements could contribute to the creation of a powerful, long lasting, and flexible life purpose. In my work with hundreds of individuals and thousands of people in groups, I have found the following three elements to be most effective:

· Vision: What is the vision or possibility you see for the world?
· Values: What are the core values you stand for and are willing to give your life for?
· Being: Who are you? What can people count on from you? Life purpose is more about who you are than what you do. Remember, we’re called human beings, not human doings. Many of us have forgotten that.
Let’s look at each one of these elements in more depth.
Vision–What’s Possible
If you spend much time around young, fully expressed children, you’ll notice how they live in possibility. They invent games on the spot and then aren’t afraid to change the rules whenever they realize there’s a new way to play that will be even more fun.
Children are filled with the spirit of what’s possible. Unfortunately, far too many of us have had that spirit stifled by well-meaning people, challenging circumstances, and our own reactions to and interpretations of them.
However, no matter what has happened to us in the past, it is possible for all of us to return to that childlike innocence. Not only is it possible, it’s necessary if we want to clarify our true purpose in life.
Each of us has a unique sense of what’s possible in our own lives—with our families, in our community, in the world. Getting in touch with this vision of what’s possible is one of the basic necessities for clarifying your life purpose.
Values–What Matters Most
Clarifying our core values is a refinement process, not all that different from peeling away the layers of an onion.
We often start with a long list of things we’ve been taught we should value. In fact, I call this first layer the should values.
But it’s important to peel through this layer until we get to those values we really choose to live in our life. The second layer of the onion is our chosen values.
The really important layer is even further within. I’m talking about those select values, usually not more than three to six intangibles, that we’d be willing to give our lives for. These are our core values.
Just like we all have a unique vision of what’s possible, we also have a unique set of core values that are an integral part of our life purpose.
Being–The Essence of Who We Are
One of the most important questions that can shape anyone’s life is, “Who am I?” When we can distinguish who we are and the way or ways of being that are at our core, then we have another important basic element for our life purpose.
We all have unique ways of being that we’ve come to count on and that we know others can count on as well. Distinguishing these gives us yet one more important piece of the puzzle of what our purpose in life is.
The Glue That Holds it All Together
There is actually a fourth component life purpose that is so critical to the formation of a powerful, enduring, and flexible life purpose that you can think of it as the foundation upon which the life purpose stands and the glue that holds it all together.
There are various ways to refer to this last ingredient. One way is to call it love—the universal attractive force of unconditional love that binds us all together and connects us powerfully to the rest of the cosmos. Another way to describe it is your relationship with God, a higher power, or your spirituality.
When we combine this glue with your unique vision of what’s possible in the world, your unique set of core values, and your unique qualities of being, we end up with a powerful, empowering, and enduring life purpose that still has ample room for us to play and express ourselves. This life purpose becomes the context that shapes and forms us as we go about doing all the things that make up our life.
From Concept to Reality: An Example
Okay, now let’s look at an example that will move us from concept to real life. The example I know the best is my own life. I’ve enjoyed coaching people for close to two decades, and for the past decade I’ve also run my own spiritually based enterprise, Life on Purpose Institute. While both of these are important to me, I’m also clear that they are not my life purpose.
I’ve also been happily married to my wife, Ann, for over fifteen years and I’m the proud father of my daughter, Amber. Both of these roles are very satisfying and fulfilling; yet, they are not my life purpose. My life purpose is to live an inspired and inspiring life of purposeful, passionate, and playful service; a life of mindful abundance balanced with simplicity; and a life of spiritual serenity. Or to give you the shorthand version, my life on purpose is a life of service, simplicity, and spiritual serenity.
This, then, becomes the context, vessel, or container into which I pour my life. It shapes who I am and what I do as a coach, writer, speaker, and founder of Life on Purpose Institute. It also shapes my personal life as a husband, father, and member of my community. In fact, it can shape all of my life, each and every moment of it. Said another way, some of the ways I choose to express my life purpose are as a coach, writer, speaker, founder, husband, and father.
Once you are crystal clear about your true life purpose, it has the power and the possibility to shape all of your life—your thoughts and feelings, your decisions and choices, your speaking and actions, and ultimately your results in life. There is tremendous power when all of these factors come together in a congruent way, when your thoughts, feelings, decisions, choices, speaking, and actions are all congruent and in integrity with each other. This is what makes living on purpose both possible and so exhilarating.

Excerpted with permission from Life on Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life (Elite Books, 2007) by Dr. Brad Swift.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Brad Swift is the author of "Life on Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life," (Elite Books) the first and only how-to manual to uncover one's reason for being. Called a new thought visionary, as the founder of the Life on Purpose Institute and a Life on Purpose Coach, he has touched millions through his inspiring and thought-provoking articles, speaking engagements to local and national audiences and one-on-one coaching.