Using The Purpose Diagram to Find Purpose
Updated: Jun 26, 2022
The Zuzunaga Venn Diagram of Purpose can be used to brainstorm passions, missions, professions, and vocations, and to find your "purpose" where all of these categories overlap. In the Western world, it is often used to find your ideal career, but it can also be used to visualize all of the ways that you contribute to the world and to find things outside of a career that can help you feel fulfilled. What I find this tool most useful for is reminding yourself of things that make you happy and that help you find purpose/self-fulfillment.
An important note before you begin this activity: Do not be discouraged if it is difficult to find things to put in each list. Your life inherently has meaning and purpose regardless of what you do or accomplish. This tool is simply a method of finding activities that may bring you joy, if you have the time/energy/ability to do them. If you don't have the time/energy/ability to add anything else into your life, try to acknowledge this and avoid adding more to your plate.
Now, here are the steps to using The Venn Diagram of Purpose according to its author, Andrés Zuzunaga:
1. First, make four lists:
What you love to do
What you are good at (or that you think you could be good at if you tried)
What the world or your community needs more of
What you could be paid for
These lists can include any activity that you feel like including.
2. Find your passions: Your passions appear on both the list of what you love to do and the list of what you are good at (or you think you could be good at if you tried). These activities can bring joy and satisfaction.
Note: I would argue that your passions don't need to be things that you're necessarily good at, but also things that simply bring you joy and that you love doing. Don't stop doing the things you love just because you think that you're "not good" at them.
3. Find your missions: Your missions appear on both the list of what the world or your community needs more of and the list of what you love to do. Do more of these activities to help you find feelings of importance and fulfillment.
4. Find your possible professions: Your professions appear on both the list of what you are good at (or you think you could be good at if you tried) and the list of what you could be paid for. If none of these professions appeal to you, that's okay, they're just possibilities.
Note: Sometimes professions are simply jobs that are available, accessible and practical. For those of us with the privilege of choosing between multiple professions, try to acknowledge this privilege and feel gratitude towards it.
5. Find your vocations: Your vocations appear on both the list of what the world or your community needs more of and the list of what you could be paid for.
Note: You don't need to be paid in order to do something that the world or your community needs, and sometimes volunteering in these roles can bring even more joy. However, be mindful of the time/energy you give and remember to protect yourself by ensuring you're not giving too much at a cost to yourself.
6. Find your "purpose": Your "purpose," according to the author of the Venn Diagram, appears on each of the four lists that you made. If there are no activities that clearly belong to each category, you can try to come up with ideas based on activities in each category - passions, missions, professions and vocations. However, try not to only focus on the final products of this activity. You can try doing more activities in each list (except professions - try not to overwork yourself), since these will help you find joy, meaning and satisfaction.