Building a Practice On Purpose Series Part #2 - When Life Purpose is About More than What You Do

Brad Swift

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In our last installment of this series, I wrote:

"If you think your life purpose is “being a veterinarian (or any other job, career, profession or primary role in life)" I invite you to think again, because as we'll explore further in this series, a life purpose is something that encompasses ALL of your life, not just a part of it, no matter how important that part is. And your life purpose isn't what you DO. It's more about who you are, what you value most in life, and what you see possible for the world. But we'll get further into that in one of our future installments. "

Well, this is the installment where we'll explore both the commonly help perspective of what a life purpose is that I call the Cultural Perspective and the Life On Purpose Perspective. While this will take an open mind and a willingness to try on a new way of viewing life and living on purpose, I believe you will find it well worth the effort. Here goes.

In interviewing literally thousands of people through the last 10 years and asking them, “What do you think a life purpose is?" I found that a high percentage of the responses had a common theme to them which was:

"A life purpose is what I'm here to DO while I'm alive. "

The key word is ‘do. ’ When we think from this perspective we often equate our job, career or profession as our life purpose, or we view some primary role in life such as being a good parent, spouse or community member as our life purpose.

But how can any of these be our life purpose since none of them encompass all of our life? It's what I call a case of mistaken identity which has led many us into a life filled with doing, doing, doing, in an effort to fulfill our misidentified life purpose, and in the process burning a lot of us out.

So, let's try on another way to view what a life purpose is. The Life On Purpose Perspective suggests that a life purpose is the context, vessel or container into which we pour our life, and that this context is what then shapes our life - ALL OF OUR LIFE. In other words, once we've clarified our life purpose from this perspective, it has the power to shape our thoughts, decisions, choices, what we say and all that we do!

While this is a somewhat subtle distinction, it's one that thousands of people who have tried it on have found very rich and rewarding, but let me give you and example that will help make this more real and practical for you.

I love coaching, writing and speaking, and I love being the ‘Chief Visionary Officer’ of Life On Purpose Institute, Inc. Yet, none of these things that I do is my life purpose. I also love being a dad to my daughter, Amber, and a caring husband to my wife, Ann, yet once again these are not my life purpose.

My life purpose - the context that shapes all of my life is to live a purposeful, passionate, and playful life of service, a life of mindful abundance balanced with simplicity and spiritual serenity. And coaching, writing, speaking, envisioning for Life On Purpose, parenting and loving my wife are all ways that I get to EXPRESS this life purpose. In other words, it's this life purpose that shapes what I do.

So, let me conclude this installment by once again repeating the questions:

Do you know with crystal clarity your true purpose?

What do you say your life purpose is?

Being able to answer this last one with crystal clarity is key to building a practice on purpose.

As the founder of Life On Purpose Institute, Dr. W. Bradford Swift empowers people to live true to their life purpose through writing, public speaking, and coaching professional people to design businesses on purpose. Send questions to or visit

Dr. Brad Swift founded Life On Purpose Institute in 1996 with the vision of creating a World On Purpose by assisting people like yourself to clarify their life purpose & live true to it. Determine how on or off purpose your life is with the fun & insightful Self Test at: Inspire yourself with a fr. ee subscription to Purposeful Pondering Ezine:


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