7 Tips for Setting Your Purpose & Defining Your Success

In the months before my wedding, there were more celebratory events than I can count on my body parts. (Forget just using fingers!) Bridal showers, lunches, dinners, drinks with friends, drinks with family, bachelorette parties — events galore.

At every single one of these events, I was showered with love — and with desserts.

In preparing for a wedding, desserts mean Problem City.

If you’ve ever tried to fit into a wedding dress or even an old pair of pants, you know what I’m talking about. Saying no is all it takes, but resisting a luscious piece of cake is probably the hardest thing EVER!

How my taste buds miss all those cupcakes I didn’t eat. I long for them sometimes.

Know what made it worth it? I fit into that wedding dress — and I rocked it all night long.

Are goals really all that important?

Most of the time, I’m totally against setting lofty goals. They’re unachievable, scary, and make me totally fear failure.

Talk about stopping dead in your tracks.

I scoured my brain for what could be a good replacement for this, asking myself:

    • What could be the answer to our striving?
    • What could help us be continuously motivated to become better without getting too scared to march on?
    • Why is it that most of us underdeliver on our promises to ourselves?

Until it hit me. It was right in front of me the whole time! It’s something I do every single day without even noticing. It’s something I felt was too obvious and corny to even mention to anyone else, but it’s worth analyzing and sharing.

A sure-fire way to move forward without fear is to set a meaningful purpose, not a lofty goal.

To me, there is a gap the size of the Pacific between a purpose and a goal.

Goal = what you are striving toward, your destination.
Purpose = why you are striving, your reason.

By focusing on purpose instead of goals, the hard work we need to put in and the progress we reap from it both feel more enjoyable and meaningful. There is no numeric aim to be held against — just a genuine and significant broad future state that you move toward at a rate that feels comfortable and fulfilling.

Setting your purpose works — so let’s find out how

1. Be YOU! You are a unique being, and there are skills and desires that only you bring to the table. Let’s call this your onlyness. If you leverage your onlyness, you’ll be on the honest and true fast-track to finding your success.

2. Hone in on your emotions. Becoming aware of our emotions is a practice that is both difficult and incredibly rewarding. Recognizing your reactions and desires for what they are in any given moment will give you a powerful insight that has lied untapped for far too long.

3. Ask yourself why — over and over again. Each emotion and desire that we bring to the table is there for a reason. The same applies to our goals. If you scrutinize the reason behind each of these, you will arrive much more quickly at your ultimate purpose.

4. Take note of what makes you curious. There is amazing power behind our natural inclinations to explore certain topics and concepts. The things that make you curious will also give you immense energies in learning, discovering, and finding meaning.

5. Recall when you felt the most fulfilled. Every single day is jam-packed with activities — some fulfilling and some not. Identifying which parts of your day or week are most fulfilling will help you replicate similar experiences more often. Incorporating those into your journey to success will ensure that you can keep chugging along when the work feels longer and harder.

6. Analyze what makes you feel most engaged. There is nothing like feeling challenged and activated without feeling overwhelmed. Activities that make us feel engaged in a positive way are like fuel, driving away feelings of insecurity and doubt. Seek out experiences that spark feelings of engagement and activation to incorporate a superhero-like excitement into your journey.

7. Paint a picture of your future self. Where do you want to be in a few weeks, months or years? Identifying how you want to look and feel at the end of your journey will keep you motivated when the going gets tough. Focusing on the experience at the end of the journey will give you boosts of energy when you most need refueling.

Remember: goals are about numbers and achievements, while purpose is about experiences and intentions.

How can you leverage your purpose in your life?


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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