If you want to succeed in life you, well, have to want to succeed. Before you roll your eyes at me, however, note that I mean something more than wanting to have a few extra bucks or more respect from your friends. This is about knowing what you need to have success, learniing the steps you need to meet those requirements, and the desire—the want—to follow through exceptionally well. Perserverance is about refusing to give up, but purposefulness is about how firmly you tackle your responsibilities. A person with a strong sense of purposefulness walks, talks, and works differently than someone without it.

One of the best ways to develop this is mimicry, believe it or not. Now, this might seem silly, but there really is a science behind this. People who smile more often are made happier simply by that physical act of smiling. People who practice their flirtatious body language and make use of it tend to have more confidence while meeting potential mates than someone who doesn't. And yes, someone who walks and talks like a person with purpose is going to have more purpose—it's that infectious. There are some tips down below in the activities section on how you can use this technique to improve your confidence and the sense of purpose you possess when you tackle jobs.

Another thing that will help is not what you are doing on the outside, but what's going on in the inside. Practicing positive (and productive) thinking will have a direct impact on your productivity. Feeling stuck or hopeless at work will make your behavior and output stuck and hopeless. If you can channel a can-do attitude you work will improve whether by conscious intention or not. This is where this virtue directly relates to the virtue of Optimism. If optimism proves to be very beneficial to you, you might want to move right on over that virtue when you are satisfied with this one.

A third thing you can do is to simply try to find more purpose in the work you already do. If you dislike your job then this might be more easily said than done. If you don't think you can find more optimism about the job you currently hold, try to developing a motivation through unrelated virtues or attitudes like a strong sense of work-ethic or quality standards. Even if this is not the job you want to be at you will have a much easier time finding new and better positions if you conquer the job you hold now. Find any source of purpose you can in all the work that you do.

Finally, take the time to educate your self on what you want and what you need to do to get there. Organizing a series of steps and goals, and ensuring you follow up on them, will add a much greater sense of purpose to your continual development (which your superiors, coworkers, and family will notice). If you have followed this program closely, you probably developed a greater sense of purpose towards your development of virtues. You can use this toward your business related aims as well.

Here are some tips and suggestions that will help you get started in developing a sense of purposefulness. Use these and your own ideas as you make your goals.


  • Choose One "Purposeful" Trait and Focus on It: Take a physical trait of a purposeful person—like their forceful walk or their tone of conversation for instance—and focus on it for a specified period of time, like a week. If you are making it a goal to be more energetic and self-assertive when speaking to others, for instance, try to speak this way in every conversation you can manage for the specified time. Keep a journal to record your progress and use other techniques to make sure you don't forget about your goal throughout the day.
  • Keep a "Positive" Journal: Many people keep journals where they record their negative feelings or frustrations. This can be important, but for a while, keep a journal where you act as the optimist. Write down your goals, ideas, and dreams, and try to focus on the positive events of the day. It may be hard to "remember" to be optimistic, but keeping a journal is a good way to consciously work on this trait while ingraining the experience deep into your mind through the written word.
  • Surround Yourself with Positive People: While working on this trait, try to spend more time with those who talk positively with you and less with those who speak about you negatively. I don't mean to imply that you avoid criticism for the rest of your life, but the way people treat you becomes a part of your personality and eventually of who you are.
  • Improve Your Work at Your Current Job: Make goals and find ways in which you can improve the work you do at your current job. Without even thinking of the word "purpose", having new goals toward you work will give you a greater sense of purpose toward your job and it won't be long before people notice your new-found attitude.
  • Map the Stars Before You Reach for Them: Educate yourself on what you need to do to achieve your long-term professional goals. This can include the education and skills you might need, but you need to do more. Learn what personal traits the people in your dream position have, and what steps and positions they had to take before they landed the job you wish you had. Learn about networking and who you have to know before you can break in. Next, learn how you can develop these skills, traits, and contacts, and make educated goals that will position yourself to fulfill your dream.

Your Record

If you spend more than 15 minutes at a time on something not work-related and you can't say you truly had nothing else to do, than mark yourself at "fault". If you find yourself putting as little effort as possible on common or less favorite tasks, then mark yourself at fault (even if they are not the best use of your time, when you get to them you should still complete them with a sense of purpose). Make goals based on the reading, activities, and your own personal observations. If you fail to follow through on your activities or meet your goals, then mark yourself at fault.


What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose.

Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister and Politician

What allows us, as human beings, to psychologically survive life on earth, with all of its pain, drama, and challenges, is a sense of purpose and meaning.

Barbara De Angelis, American Researcher On Relationships and Personal Growth

I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.

Og Mandino, American Psychologist and Essayist

Golden Mean

Fanaticism, radicalism

Recommended Reading

Finding Your Purpose: A Guide to Personal Fulfillment — by Barbara J. Braham

This book is all about trying to find your purpose in life—from the perspective of your career and business life.

Coach Yourself to Find your Ideal Job and Purpose — by Jane Johnson

This book is similar to the topic up above, but focuses more on what exactly you want to do for a living, or should do.

Five Minutes on Mondays: Finding Unexpected Purpose, Peace, and Fulfillment at Work — by Alan J. Lurie

This inspirational book intends to help you find purpose (and ethics/morality) where you already work. It could help motivate you to have a greater sense of purpose that can infect the rest of your work. Written by a rabbi.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.

At the core of life is a hard purposefulness, a determination to live. Howard Thurman