Seven Questions for a Purposeful Life

Mike Weber

For the past eight years, I have been learning the “ins and outs” of hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Hiking in the White Mountains is challenging, exciting and, if you're not prepared, dangerous. Every year hikers are lost, injured and some die while in the White Mountain National Forest. Why? Occasionally, they are in the wrong place at the wrong time, but usually it’s because of the choices that they make, the actions that they take and the gear that they carry.

Life is a series of choices and each of us gets to make our own choices. The choices that we make then define what our lives look like. Some will argue this point and suggest that life just what happens to us, that we have not even the slightest opportunity to control our destiny. Simply not true.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we can control the weather or the guy in the next car who is driving to endanger. But we can control how we react and respond to the situations, challenges and opportunities we encounter. When you are in the middle of the Pemigewasset Wilderness and you encounter a bear or are hit with a surprise snow squall, what will you do? How will you react or respond to the things that are out of your control?

The answer is determined by your preparation. If you’ve been trained in how to respond when encountering a bear or have proper equipment for survival in the snow, then you are able to make good choices. If not, then perhaps you become another statistic.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”― Benjamin Franklin

There are seven questions that need answering in order to be prepared to lead a purposeful life. All leaders and organizations must ask these in order to accomplish their goals and reach their full potential. While the consequences of an unprepared life might not be devastating, they do leave us in places we don’t want to be.

Values: What's important?
All of us have beliefs that we hold to be true – some stated and some merely understood. These values serve as the foundation for why we act the way we do.

Vision: Where are you going?
“Not all who wander are lost.” - J.R.R. Tolkien. This may be true, but a purposeful life has destinations in mind. What is a worthy journey upon which to embark?

Purpose: Why would you go there?
Purpose provides the energy and motivation for any great accomplishment. Why would you strive to do the things you set out to do?

Foundation: Where am I?
What is your current situation? What resources do you have? What is your time-frame?

Relationships: Who will I go with?
Life, like hiking, is a journey and who you spend it with will color your world. Who do you want to invite to be part of this adventure? Who do you already have to work with?

Strategy: How will you get there?
How do you activate the resources, time, personnel and plans to achieve your goals?

Launch: When will you start?
Even great plans are useless until you take that first step. When will you begin?


Think about where you are in your career and ask yourself three questions:

Where do I want to be in 1 year?

What do I want my life to look like in 5 years?

How do I want to be remembered when my career is over?

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