What is life mission?

Daniel smiling

Excerpts from Daniel Goodenough speaking about life mission.

What is life mission?

Life mission is your agreement with the One that sent you. That's probably the most concise answer. It's embedded in a context culturally, where we talk about vision, mission, mission and purpose. The vision would be what you see as possible in the world that other people might also be working on. And your life's mission would be the unique-like-a-snowflake or a fingerprint way that you would address the vision that you see as possible. What's your piece of that?

Life mission is your agreement with life and then with the One that sent you to do your piece of what you, from your innate nature, see as possible. For me, life purpose has a more temporary nature. Sometimes your purpose is to get to the other side of the room or finish your work so that you can do something else or have that conversation that you need so you can move to the next thing.

If the vision is what you see as possible for the world that other people might be working, and your mission is your unique piece of that, then your purpose is how you're going to show up to that given what's happening right now.


How can life mission help me skillfully reinvent myself in times of change?

To reinvent yourself in times of change, you actually have to have a sense of self that transcends a particular situation, or a particular vehicle. In this way, who I am is not completely defined by or constricted by the vehicle of its expression and I’m holding that identity lightly.

When the meta-view, the higher perspective of who I think I am, or the sense of who I am, is not contingent on a particular vehicle, then the skillful means is to say, “this is my why.”

The what I do could change moment by moment, because the what is just simply a vehicle for my why. And who that calls me to become will change when the what changes. And it might change even if the what hasn’t significantly changed.

The reinvention of self may have to do with who you show up as, and it may have to do with what that causes you to do. And if it calls you to change the what that will inevitably change the who. It might ask you to change how you're showing up to the same what. Or it may be a different what that is calling for a different how.

So, on what do you base that change? It’s based on who you think you are, that you're holding lightly, so your why can adjust to and change and be fluid with this question of reinventing.

This is a skill for our time. In previous generations, you may have had one career for your entire lifetime. And there was a point where you may have three or four. As early as 10 years ago, they've been saying the average high school's graduating senior will have as many as 15 or 16 different careers in their lifetime. The way things are moving, I think that number just went up. Maybe you have 30 different personas for the way and vehicles over a lifetime.

The word 'career' came from the dog racing tracks and meant careening around the track. So our careers may have multiple tracks that we will hopefully, skillfully careen around. And your ability to reinvent yourself and decide which racetrack you're going to be on, hopefully in a skillful and present way with poise, is by having a clear sense of what is my ‘self’? and holding it lightly.


What is the benefit of telling a higher story?

The story we tell ourselves about our life is the foundation for how we will continue to create our life. If the story we tell ourselves about our life is what's wrong with our life, or why we're broken, or some kind of compensatory description, then our life will continue to be compensatory and less likely to be all it could be.

We have the option of telling the story of our life from what's right about our life. Even the difficult courses we signed up for in our life, the difficult experiences we have, they were all for something, everything counts, and everything was purposeful.

If we tell the story with the idea, and in the context that something right, even though it was difficult, even though there was a certain amount of suffering or trauma, then at least it can be redeemed. At the very least there's a redemption story one can tell about that, that says, here's what's right about that. And here's what can be in service to.

You're not making stuff up, you're not telling untruths, you're just looking through the filter in the context of what was right about it, and what can be redeemed about it. What is it in service to and what did that prepare you for that would be in service to the world?

You can have that as a practice to say, here's what's right about my life story. Every time you tell it, you see more and more of what was right about it and what it's in service to in your future, what it's preparing you for? Which is another way of asking, why am I here? And what is that calling me to now in my future? What did that prepare me for?

As the added bonus, you start to feel really good about your life. So the promise is you feel good about your life, you feel creative and resourceful, you get clear that all of it was for something and all of it can serve a purpose. This is one of the consummate skills of being masterful and embodying your reason for being here and being in service in life.

10 Reflections about Life Mission


1. Life mission includes the change we want to make in the world, and it is also about who we become in the process and why we want that change.

2. Life mission is for everyone; we all have one.

3. Life Mission includes why you are here, what you are here to do and who you are here to become in the process, and how you are here to do it.

4. A person can be outwardly successful in their life because they have figured out how to do so; that doesn’t mean they are connected to their “why”, a greater sense of meaning for their life, and who they are becoming in the process.

5. What comes easily to you may be a part of your life mission and a better indicator is what you find both challenging and satisfying to do.

6. You have a work life mission, a relationship life mission, a community service life mission, a family life mission, a hobby life mission – and all of these expressions connect to your central life mission agreement.

7. Life mission is an agreement with the One who sent you, whatever that means to you. It is something to be remembered, as it is already in your blueprint for being.

8. While there is a blueprint within us for our life missions, it also has an emergent, evolutionary quality, and so it is an ongoing conversation with life and Spirit.

9. Remembering life mission is not a “one and done” step; it is a process that becomes a delightful exploration as we build skill with asking the questions.

10. Life mission is a choice that we are invited to choose each day.