Finding your purpose: Your life depends on it

  • Health and Wellness
Kristina Scala

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is said to have stated, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

But here’s the heartbreaking reality: Earlier this year, a segment on National Public Radio mentioned a major study with the following findings: “People who didn’t have a strong life purpose — which was defined as ‘a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals’ — were more likely to die than those who did, and specifically more likely to die of cardiovascular diseases.”

Numerous times each year, I’m asked to work with a wide range of adults in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, including parents, associations and community members to support them in discovering their purpose.

Why? And, why at businesses?

Here’s an experiment. Ask people in your organization: “Do you know who you are?” and “What are your most important values?” They’re likely to answer confidently. Then, ask them: “What’s your personal mission?” You’re likely to be met with blank stares. Ask yourself these questions, too.

As humans, we often have an awareness about ourselves, without having created an intentional course of action for our lives that is founded in purpose, vision, values and goals. The harsh reality is that if we don’t think about these things, as we age, we are more likely to live shorter lives.

Wise leaders understand that the best organizations are run by thoughtful and mission-driven people. People who are leading intentional and purposeful lives bring that ethos into the organizations they serve and inspire. Those organizations are propelled because there’s a tipping point of people who are working in a highly integrated, healthy and intentional way.

Building your purpose through strengths and weaknesses

Starting with a framework of your strengths and weaknesses can guide you toward your purpose even faster. Author Dave Rendell suggests asking yourself and others questions about the biggest success they’ve ever had and the happiest day of their life, plus the biggest failure and the worst job they’ve ever experienced. Then, Rendell suggests building on those questions by helping them understand how they can build on their strengths and shore up their weaknesses.

Strengths-based values

Exploring strengths and weaknesses serves as a foundation for the work that follows. The next step is to focus on and prioritize your top values and ultimately create your vision and mission for your life. Once you’ve created a list of your top strengths-based values, identify how each will show up in the hours, days, weeks, months and years ahead. What are the five most important things you’ll commit to each day that reinforce your values? Doing those should reinforce your mission and vision.

When I asked myself these questions, I translated my answers into a list of five things I’d commit to doing each morning to foster my most important values, including practicing mindfulness and reading. By making time for these things, I’m honoring them and reinforcing what’s most important. I demonstrate a commitment to my values of learning and curiosity through both.

How you spend your time should reflect your values; if it doesn’t, your life could depend on it.


Interested in discovering your purpose? Join us for our upcoming PUMP'd "Finding Your North Star" on March 5, 2020 at 6:30pm.

Register here today


This article originally appeared in the Denver Business Journal online on December 27, 2019. 

About the Author:

Kristina Scala is the Founder and President of Aspen Academy, Aspen Youth Leadership Institute, Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute, Aspen Academy Investment Fund, Bear’s Student Enterprises, and MODI. Scala is a thoughtful and creative leader, passionate entrepreneur, enthusiastic educator and master facilitator who presents on topics of education and personal, leadership, entrepreneurial, and parenting development. She works to inspire and motivate people to live a purposeful and authentic life through being kind, doing good, and making the world better through what we think, say, and do.