How Can I Identify My Life Purpose, True Goals, Or Bucket List?

Joyce Shafer

Joyce L. Shafer

Is there really one question or method that can help you answer each or all three of these questions? Let’s find out.

First, a few thoughts about each. And, I’m going to approach this in a way that’s somewhat different than anticipated.

Life Purpose

 This one gets a lot of play. I think it’s because many of us feel if we know without doubt what our purpose is, we can (we believe) demonstrate to ourselves and others that we actually have a reason to be.

I don’t know if results would be the same today, but about three-plus decades back, someone surveyed employees and employers to discover that their work priorities were. The majority of employers believed pay was the number-one priority for employees. The majority of employees marked pay as third. Second place was feeling appreciated at work. First place was leaving at the end of each day, feeling they’d accomplished or contributed something significant.

At this time in history, we have an obvious difference between secular and sacred going on in the world, which means it’s also going on in our personal and, likely, professional lives. Here’s where I now do that something-different thing I mentioned. I’m going to offer both approaches. It’ll be up to you to determine which one speaks louder to you.

The Secular or New Age Approach

By default of being here, you have a primary purpose—to have a human experience! If you find yourself craving to know what your specific purpose is, how about you put that down for a bit, tune into what YOU FEEL inspired and/or motivated to do, whether for all time or the next few weeks, months, or years—and do it or them. If you do that, it’s pretty darn likely that you’ll manage to live your purpose, however it gets done. Walking around wondering what it is and questioning every decision or indecision isn’t fun or fulfilling—it’s frustrating. Also know that life purpose and life work (career) may or may not be the same thing. For some it is, for others it isn’t.

The Sacred or Christian Approach

A lot of Christians, especially new ones, get concerned about asking God what His purpose for them is. A first assumption is that He’s going to ask them to abandon everything and become a missionary in some far-flung, hot, dangerous place. Honestly, that could happen. But it likely won’t. This may surprise some to learn, but sometimes God wants those called by His name to be a blessing to others and a praise to His name right where they are, doing regular things. For example, a doctor, nurse, assistant, and even someone in housekeeping at a medical facility can silently pray for patients, their families, staff. A short-order cook can pray over the food and for patrons and staff. One man sweat for a year as he waited for God’s answer. Turns out, God wanted him to keep the grass at his church mowed. At least, that was God’s initial request. He may have graduated the man to the next level up by now. There are numerous ways to be on purpose for God in a way that fulfills His purpose for you and your life as well. Keep reading for more about this.

For Secular and Sacred

If you or someone you know have a difficult time sticking with something or staying someplace or staying in a relationship, there are two paths to consider. Secular people, Barbara Sher has made an industry out of providing reassurance to people whose life experience is like this—they like too many things to choose just one and feel flawed or stymied because of it. Sacred people (and Secular), you may be experiencing what Pastor Monty Malkey calls The Curse of the Vagabond. That’s an eye-opener, if you’ve never heard of it before. I invite you to listen to his 43:59-minute audio on YouTube at An added bonus is the deliverance he performs at the end of it to free you from this predilection of being unable to settle and get established anywhere—relationship, job, city.

True Goals

The Secular/New Age Way

What YOU really want to do for all time or for the next few weeks, months, or years. True goals are what YOU want to experience, enjoy, achieve, fulfill, help make happen, and so on. A true goal should never, ever, ever be about what another wants or believes you should do. True goals are what you go after when you get out of your own way.

The Christian Way

If you read the Secular paragraph right above this one, those words went down like sour milk. This is because of what you you know your goal is to be a vessel for God’s purposes, plans, and promises to be fulfilled. That He commanded us to occupy until He returns. If you really want to know what God expects and wants you to do as part of your time here, I recommend you read a truly wonderful, life-changing book by Paul E. Billheimer titled, Destined for the Throne. The subtitle mentions spiritual warfare. Don’t let that throw you (unless you’re one looking to understand more about this vital task given to us by God). Your understanding of one of God’s primary purposes for His sons and daughters will be clear in your mind after reading this book.

Bucket List

The Secular/New Age Way

You’re never too young or too old to put something on this list (or check it off once achieved). If you’re not playing with such a list, consider doing so. Make it a safe zone where you write anything you wish to experience. No “I can’t” or “That’ll never happen” thoughts—if/when they occur—are to be allowed to stop you from putting down what you want, including the who, what, when, where, and how you want it to look, be, and feel for you. The HOW it happens is to be left alone, unless an inspired idea comes to you about how to help make it happen. Otherwise, putting your unfettered items on this list will, remarkably, cause them to show up at their right timing—if they are truly aligned with what you are here to experience. (I did say it was New Age.)

Pick five to ten things you want to do/accomplish. If your priority of these isn’t obvious, compare item one to item two. Which one matters more to you? Put a check mark by it. Compare item one to item three and pick the one you want more. Continue this item-to-item comparison until you’ve gone through all the items. Count the check marks for each item and you’ll see what your priorities are. You may see that some of your items fit into Life Purpose, True Goals, or Bucket List—or two categories or all three at once. It isn’t about the number of items; it’s about what you do about the ones you have.

Think this will take too much of your time because you know your list will be too long? Well, if you’re not working on at least one item on this list right now, what’s stopping you? Are you happy letting that be a reason (or excuse)?

The Christian Way

Serving God doesn’t mean you don’t also get to enjoy life. But as a Christian, you know you’re in the world but not of the world. And if you let God work through you, you’ll find yourself feeling joy and peace you can’t get from the world.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Matthew 7:7 KJB

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Proverbs 16:3

As a Christian, you know to ask of God and then wait upon the Lord for His answer. Scripture says that anything we ask for that is in accord with the Father’s Will, He will grant it to us—because it’s already part of His plan and purpose. If you want to understand more about being a willing servant of God’s, read the small but remarkable book by Andrew Murray, Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness. It’s another life-changing read, worth reading more than once.

Here is a question that can be asked of anyone: What can you do that you will do?


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