Movement Twelve: Mission and Purpose

Movement 12: Calling and Mission

This final movement is the connection that will feed back into every other movement. It is the crown of your personal tree of life, but it feeds back down to the roots that sustain you. The final movement is about your calling, purpose, and mission in life. What is it that you are here to do? What do you choose to dedicate yourself to? What makes you feel most alive and energized? Humans are meaning making creatures, and we can make meaning of our own lives by finding a purpose. Purpose and meaning take us beyond surviving and into thriving. It doesn’t have to be a huge purpose, you don’t have to be a superhero or single handedly save the world. It could be as simple as “I am here to care for my family and spread happiness in my community” or “I am a maker of useful furniture” or “I’m here to help myself and others be fit and healthy”. The possibilities are endless, because we are all unique parts of the larger whole, each contributing our own particular bit to the larger life. So take some time to explore this movement and find your own mission.


Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman

The real work of planet-saving will be small, humble, and humbling, and (insofar as it involves love) pleasing and rewarding. Its jobs will be too many to count, too many to report, too many to be publicly noticed or rewarded, too small to make anyone rich or famous. – Wendell Berry

The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.  ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Find out who you are. And do it on purpose. – Dolly Parton

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. – Rumi

Spiritual Exercises

Exercise One: Vision Boards

Vision boards are a fun and crafty way of clarifying what you want and what your goals are. They are basically just collages, but you can create the images yourself or snip them from magazines. You can create a digital board and copy and paste images from the web. You can use words or quotes. There’s no wrong way to do this. Just explore some images and start gathering what calls to you. What does the world and life you dream of look like? Create that image!

Exercise Two: A Vision Retreat

Many indigenous traditions have a practice of vision quests, often for young people as they embark on their adult lives. There are a wide variety of practices and techniques used, and I don’t encourage you to copy a practice that is not part of your culture. Instead, craft your own quest. The time frame is up to you, as well, but I like 24 hours. It could also be a few hours or a whole weekend or even longer. Other things to consider:

Place – somewhere you can be private and have quiet and not be interrupted, preferably near nature in some way

Activities – it’s perfectly fine to just sit quietly and do nothing the whole time of your retreat. Or you might want to take a contemplative walk, walk a labyrinth, bring a journal or sketchbook, or meditate. I recommend avoiding anything that might distract or take focus away, so leave your electronic devices and novels at home.

Food and substances – some traditions use certain plant medicines or other substances to induce an altered state of consciousness. That’s not something I recommend one way or the other. Other traditions encourage fasting from food or drink, which I also don’t recommend one way or the other. Make the choices that are right for you and that you are comfortable with. I do recommend avoiding snacks (a way we distract ourselves when we are bored), alcohol, and stimulants.

You may gain insight into yourself and your calling during your retreat. Or you may not. Don’t put too much pressure on the experience. Just try and be open to what comes.

Practical Exercises

Exercise Three: A Personal Mission Statement

Most companies and other organizations have a mission statement, describing their reason for existing. You, as an individual, can also use a mission statement to clarify your purpose and reason for being. It can be simple and short (although that’s actually harder to write!) or up to a paragraph. Begin by thinking about your values and vision for the world. Think about your gifts and what makes you feel most alive. Write, sit with it, and then rewrite. Ask people close to you who you trust if this mission statement seems right for you. Work with it for a while and be ready to change it in the future (it’s a living document). And let it guide the way you live your life.

Personal Mission Statement: Examples, Definition, and Writing Tips – The Berkeley Well-Being Institute (

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement (40+ Examples) |

Community Exercises

Exercise Four: Find Your Tribe

Once you have your mission statement, great! Now you know what your purpose is in the world and this life, right? But what if it’s a big vision, maybe bigger than one person could ever do on their own? Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. The big problems of this world are so vast they will only be solved by many people each taking their own small actions. You need to find people who share a similar vision and are also working toward similar ends to your own. Find your tribe! Start with some internet research. and Facebook have a lot of groups to search through, for instance. There are also big organizations, like Just Transitions or the Charter for Compassion that might be a good starting place. Many large organizations may have local chapters. And if you really can’t find what you’re looking for, perhaps that means you should create a group. Just remember, you really don’t have to do this alone. Somewhere, there are others who want to do this kind of work too.



10 Ways To Uncover Your True Calling (

How to Thrive When the World’s Falling Apart | by umair haque | Eudaimonia and Co (

Five Steps to Finding Your Life Purpose | Psychology Today


Work That Reconnects Network

Charter for Compassion

Just Transition


Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer

Who Do We Choose to Be? By Margaret Wheatley

Radical Joy for Hard Times by Trebbe Johnson

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Guided Meditation:

Yoga Nidra to Hear Your Inner Truth

Reflection Questions

  1. When have you felt most alive and energized in your life? What were you doing then?
  2. What gifts and talents do you have that you want to share with the world? How do you go about sharing those?
  3. Has your sense of purpose or mission changed throughout your life? What “season” of life are you in now and how does that affect your sense of purpose now?
  4. When you look at the world and all of its problems and needs, what are the issues you feel most passionate about? What need is your heart calling you toward?
  5. What gets in the way of you living a life of purpose? What distractions and obstacles do you experience?
  6. What is your mission and how to you live it out? Are there changes you need to make to align your life with your mission?

Next: What Now?

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