Detecting or Inventing Your Mission

Mission[1]“Everyone has his own specific vocation in life. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus everyone’s task is as unique as his specific opportunity to implement it. We detect rather than invent our mission in life.”  Victor Frankl Man’s Search for Meaning

Several years ago a client questioned me about a quote that I had shared with him.   He asked, “But do you think we are unable to invent our mission?  That all we can do is detect it?”

Is it a mission or your mission?

I do think it is possible to invent a mission for our lives but finding our special mission that takes detection.

My doctor once told me that ever since he was a child he wanted to be a physician.  He just knew that that is what he was meant to do and he did it.  We often say that that sort of person has a calling.

I had a similar experience. Teaching was something I always knew I wanted to do.  The only teaching I knew about then was in a school setting and yet as time went on I realized that wasn’t the right place for me.  Teaching, my calling, was right but not chemistry or math as I had been doing and not in a school.

So although I thought I found my calling (life purpose) I did not find my mission.  It took me many years to detect that my mission was teaching others how to be happy at work.

Use your heart not your head

What is the difference between “detect” and “invent”?  If I “detect” my mission I have a feeling, an emotion. There is a spark that I feel within me.  If I “invent” my mission it comes from thinking about it.  The difference has to do with the heart (emotion) versus the head (thinking).

Can you invent your mission in life?  You might get lucky and invent the right one but it is only through feeling that you detect it is right for you.

There are probably a few people who hit upon their mission by inventing but most of us try at least a few different types of work before we detect our true mission.

Detecting your mission means you find exactly what you were meant to do in life, you are engaged by the work and it fulfills you in a really special way.  Many people search and invent potential missions until they strike on the right one. They know it is right when they feel the work they are doing is meaningful, satisfying and serves a purpose beyond making money for themselves. There’s spark of potential energy and possibility that excites them.

Having a mission in life is not for everyone. For some people “detecting” their mission is not important. Work is just a means to make a living and have a comfortable life.  Their enjoyment comes outside of work.

My father always told me work was not meant to be enjoyable even though he appeared to be absorbed by his work.  He was a great example of someone really fulfilled by the work he did.  I have spent a good part of my life searching for that type of work myself.  The journey has been interesting and looking back I can see a stepwise process that got me here. It wasn’t without it side trips and dead ends but eventually I found the spark for myself.

Work that is your mission in life can be done anywhere; in an office, at home, in a business, through a hobby, or through a volunteer organization.    It doesn’t matter what your mission is or where you do it, what does matter is the feeling of satisfaction you feel as you do it.

Take action:

  1. If “detecting” your mission is important to you start by noticing what kind of work makes you feel satisfied.  Notice the feeling in your body. Consider your whole life.  Sometimes satisfying events happen early in life.  (I get great satisfaction in knowing that I taught a younger cousin to read when I was six years old.)
  2. Find ways to do more of that satisfying work at your current work position or in a volunteer position.
  3. My clients write a biography as part of their search for their life purpose.  The biography is done in bullet points.  Try writing yours.  What themes and events do you see that might give you some clues?

Find the spark  

Want to work with a coach to detect your mission?  Let me help you to find your spark. Call me at 781-598-0388 or email me at  If you struggle to psych up for work every day, this could be the answer.  It doesn’t have to mean changing jobs or changing careers.  It may mean doing the work you do today in a different way or seeing it from a different perspective.


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