The Best 15 Purpose Quotes to Inspire Your Life

Do you want some inspiration for your life? Here are 15 of the best Purpose Quotes to get you moving.

These purpose quotes have been penned by some big names from philosophy, authors, rock stars, world leaders – and even a surprise at the end.

They answer the question: What is Purpose? Plus, they point to ways to answer this for yourself and your life.

Note: The video has 11 purpose quotes. This blog post has a few bonus examples.

1 Robert Byrne

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”

This purpose quote from Robert Byrne simply had to lead this list. It’s short, sweet and poetic. Too many people go searching for purpose when if they just focused on being purposeful in their life (putting their attention on important things), the life would be inspiring.

2 Carl Jung

“…the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”

What a powerful metaphor! Jung speaks to a core issue of elevating yourself to a higher level of being. A purpose that we can all pursue regardless or situation or circumstance.

3 William James

“The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”

William James quote talks about spirit (pursuing things bigger than oneself) and legacy. This might include family, a body of work or being part of a cause or community.

4 Og Mandingo

“I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.”

Og Mandingo’s purpose quote presents a simple and powerful analogy for life. And I love that commitment statement that follows it – I will apply ALL my efforts. That’s what a purpose statement is for – aligning your efforts towards a worthy ambition.

5 Helen Keller

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

I love this purpose quote from Helen Keller. It’s one of my favourites. It’s short, sharp and strong. And it reminds us of the adventure (and challenges) Keller faced during her life, after losing her sight and hearing as a young child.

6 Mahatma Gandhi

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

There is a lot of talk in the pop psychology domain about finding yourself. But as Gandhi points out in this quote, many of us are looking for it in the wrong place.

7 Theodore Roosevelt

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs… even though checkered by failure, than to take ranks with those poor spirits that neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

I love this quote from former US President Teddy Roosevelt. As a youngster, I memorised it and often repeated it to myself as a reminder of who I wanted to become. Roosevelt overcome several setbacks, especially with his health, to become (at the time) the youngest US President.

8 Rainer Maria Rilke

“The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.”

At first glance, this purpose quote from Austrian author and philosopher, Rainer Maria Rilke, does not sound very attractive. A life of constant defeat is not what we would generally wish for. But there are two points worthy of mention here. First, when we lose or are defeated we push up against our boundaries or limits of what is possible. Too many of us, stay in our comfort zones (Roosevelt’s grey twilight). Second, it’s the lure of greater and greater things. As we tackle and overcome obstacles and adventures we can equip ourselves with what we need to tackle greater opportunities.

9 Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The purpose of life is to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Again, your purpose doesn’t have to be specific and concrete. Emerson’s quote offers a powerful context to live from. Live well. And know that by living well you made a difference to someone or something. That’s perfect for a parent, teacher or leader.

10 Pablo Picasso

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

This is another elegant quote. Picasso neatly sums up the two sides of purpose – finding it and doing something with it. And I don’t think he means to literally ‘give it away’. Picasso was a millionaire by the age of 27. He didn’t give away his art. Instead, what he means is to make your purpose available to others. Share it. Express it. Live it.

11 David Bowie

“I am not a prophet or a stone-age man, just a mortal with the potential of a superman.”
Quicksand, Hunky Dory

What potential do you have? David Bowie’s quote from his song, Quicksand, points to a grand possibility. We are just mortal. But we have a huge capability to live in a powerful way.

12 Corretta Scott King

“My story is a freedom song of struggle. It’s about finding one’s purpose, how to overcome fear and to stand up for causes bigger than one’s self.”

Corretta is Martin Luther King’s wife. She acknowledges that path to freedom and purpose in her life was not easy. But she also points to a consistent theme here. Your purpose will have added meaning and motivation if it is about a cause bigger than yourself.

13 Dolly Parton

“Find out who you are. And do it on purpose.”

Dolly Parton’s purpose quote is simple and elegant. And the second sentence shines the brightest for me – do it on purpose. As Robert Byrne suggested in the first quote, there are two parts to purpose. First, define what it is. Second, live purposefully.

14 Nick Zvjicic

“Often people ask how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and no legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be thankful that I have a purpose. I chose gratitude.”

Nick Zvjicic’s purpose statement shows the choice we all have. While he has had a difficult time without limbs, he has been able to focus on the things he can control. And this is the focus or attitude he brings to life. Plus it points to a simple, yet powerful, level of purpose – a one-word way of being. In his case, gratitude.

15 Buzz Lightyear

“To infinity and beyond.”

This is my favourite on this list. Yes, it’s a cartoon character which adds to the charm – a toy having the biggest possibility of possibilities. It’s a great way to see there is no limit to what you are capable of.

More Purpose Quotes and Purpose Statement Examples

If you want more inspiration, then check out these purpose statement examples in other posts/videos.


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