Select Page

How to Align Everyday Actions with Your Life’s Purpose


Have you ever had the feeling of being lost & left wondering “Why am I doing what I’m doing?”, “Why am I in this job?”, “What does all this mean?”, “Who am I, and what is my purpose?”.

In spite of all the achievements, there is a feeling of emptiness. This usually happens when our actions are not aligned with our Life’s purpose.

Using the Horizons of Focus model, GTD® helps practitioners align day to day, mundane actions with the overarching vision for their life.

And you can do the same to find joy, clarity, and motivation in your existence.

What is the Fifth Horizon in GTD®?

The Horizons of Focus Model is basically the agreements that one has with himself or herself at different levels of perspective. Each Horizon represents a time-level & impact. It’s a tool to know what your work is so that your priorities are clear.

In the second edition of the book Getting Things Done®, the Fifth Horizon is defined as “The ‘big picture’ view. Why does your company exist? Why do you exist? The primary purpose for anything provides the core definition of what its ‘word’ really is. It is the ultimate job description.”

In other words, your agreements at the Fifth Horizon describe your life’s purpose.

How to Find Your Life’s Purpose?

Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. And so we strive to find the activities that fulfill us and satisfy our yearnings to leave our mark on the world. Life’s purpose is often defined in a two-fold manner. The first is one’s Inner Purpose, and the second is one’s Outer-Purpose.

The Inner-Purpose is the same for all human beings on the planet, and that is to know oneself. Not in the sense of your personality, but to know yourself as the silent witness of your thoughts.

But what is more challenging to find is our Outer-Purpose i.e. what is it that we can do in this world that will align ourselves and our actions with our Inner-Purpose? No one can tell you what your Outer-purpose is, it’s something that you have to find out for yourself. But there are ways to do so and this series of questions is one:

  • What are my unique talents?
  • How can I use my unique talents to serve others (such as family and community)
  • What gives me peak experiences and Joy?
  • What would I be doing if I had just 6 months to live?
  • What would I be doing, if I had all the time and money in the world?
  • What do I love to do?
  • What are the top values I believe in and uphold the most?

Recommended Reading: The Passion Test.

If you own an organization there are some questions you can ask to help you identify the purpose of your organization:

  • What business are we in?
  • When does my business get done?
  • What are the values of this Organization?
  • What value are we trying to give our customers?

Recommended Reading: The E-Myth Manager

If you’re working for an organization, then you need to ask both sets of questions above and then probe further, “Are my talents & values in alignment with the purpose and values of the organization?”

Some of the answers to these questions may come to you instantly; whereas some of these questions will take you a lifetime to answer. The sooner you start asking them, the sooner you’ll begin to get answers. It important to remember that these answers can change over your lifetime depending on needs, interests & circumstances.

[Horizons of Focus] How to Fulfill your Life’s Purpose with Everyday Actions?

Once your Fifth level agreements are clear, you then start determining your agreements at the lower Horizons of Focus:

Fourth Horizon: Vision. What will the successful implementation of your vision look, feel and sound like? This is a picture of where you want to be 3 to 5 years from now.

Third Horizon: Goals and Objectives. What do you need to accomplish within the next 1 to 2 years to make your vision happen?

Second Horizon: Areas of focus and responsibility. Important spheres of work and life to be maintained at standards to “keep the engine running”. eg. What is the standard Health you’d like to maintain? How about your standard for your education, family life, and spirituality so that you can achieve your Third & Fourth Level goals.

First Horizon: Projects or Outcomes you want to achieve that requires more than one action and which can be completed within a year.

Ground Level: Next physical, visible actions to take on any project or to realize an outcome.

Once you go through the entire exercise of connecting one level to the other and focusing on the to-dos for each perspective, you get an immense sense of power.

With this alignment, you reach a stage where you know that with every phone call, every meeting and every action you’re forging ahead in the direction of your life’s purpose. And it feels wonderful!!

This post was first published by Mohammed Ali Vakil as a community contribution to the GTD Times on the 7th of July 2008. It has been reproduced here with changes to accommodate the most current Getting Things Done terminology and other relevant alterations. You can read the original post here.



Share This