How to Fulfill Your Purpose & Validate Goals (+Exercise)

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Find Your Why" by Simon Sinek, David Mead, Peter Docker. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How can you fulfill your purpose in life when you feel aimless? What first steps should you take to achieve your goals?

Motivational speaker and author Simon Sinek believes every person has a true purpose waiting to be found. Sinek developed a simple yet effective method for fulfilling your purpose when you don’t know where to begin.

Keep reading to learn how sharing your purpose and validating your goals can lead to fulfillment, according to Sinek.

Fulfill Your Purpose by Sharing With Others

Sharing your purpose helps validate your ideas with the insights of people who know you well. It also gives you the opportunity to practice using your Why, or purpose, to make more persuasive appeals.

The sharing process is different for individuals versus teams. For individuals, it consists of refining and validating your purpose statement, then sharing it with others. For teams, it consists of holding a group discussion in which you share the purpose statement and practices with additional team members to validate them and encourage wider ownership of the purpose.

Share Your Insights With Others

Sinek suggests talking with friends to check whether your purpose statement is an honest expression of your best self. Ask them what they specifically value in you as a friend. Their answer should echo your purpose statement. If it doesn’t, go back to your discussion partner, and discuss whether your friends have raised any themes worth exploring. (Shortform note: The authors’ suggestion of a collaborative approach applies beyond sharing your purpose. In Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans argue that you should design your life collaboratively. One way to do that is to create a team of close allies and influential people in your life that you share your life project design with, and who give you feedback and support.)

Additionally, talk to the people you interact with often about both your Why and How. This will help you collaborate more effectively with them because they’ll know where you’re coming from (your Why) and what strengths you can contribute (your How). (Shortform note: Sharing your Why and How with colleagues can contribute to a culture of Radical Candor, a management style that focuses on supporting people through personal and professional problems. If you’re a leader, you can encourage your employees to share their Why and How with you. Then you can follow Kim Scott’s advice to support their growth by giving them the feedback and challenges they need.)

Finally, fulfill your purpose by leading with your Why rather than your How or What when you introduce yourself to strangers. (Shortform note: Introducing yourself to strangers can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re sharing something personal like your purpose. To overcome nerves when talking to strangers, follow the tips Keith Ferrazzi outlines in Never Eat Alone, including emulating an extroverted role model in social situations and setting small targets for yourself, like introducing yourself to one new person every week.)

Exercise: Determine Your “How” to Fulfill Your Purpose

This exercise will help you determine your individual How, or the methods that will help you fulfill your purpose.

  • Group the themes you set aside after writing your purpose statement until you have no more than five. Write those five themes in active and inspiring language that expresses your unique How, or methods. For example, “build safe communities.”
  • Elaborate on each How to make it more concrete. For instance, you could add the following clarifying statements to the example above: 
    • “I look out for my community members.”
    • “I create safe spaces where everyone feels welcome.”
    • “I seek opportunities for connection.”
  • Consider your current work. Does it allow you to apply your How, or methods, or are you having to stifle them? How can you create opportunities for yourself to apply more of your unique How, or methods, in the work you’re doing now?
How to Fulfill Your Purpose & Validate Goals (+Exercise)

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Simon Sinek, David Mead, Peter Docker's "Find Your Why" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Find Your Why summary :

  • Simon Sinek’s steps to understanding and living your purpose and your organization’s
  • How to create and write your purpose statement
  • What to do after you find your Why: Determine your How

Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

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