What’s Your North Star? A Short Guide In Defining Your Purpose


I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with goal setting. You have people like Leo Babauta that argue that goals are future-centric and set you up for disappointment while compromising the feeling of being present.

Then you have people like Tim Ferriss that argue that it’s hard to achieve anything meaningful without some clear direction or result in mind.

Check out the two discussing the very topic below.

In the end, it comes down to whatever works for you.

There is, however, another way to approach goal-setting, whether you’re a Type A go-getter or a free-spirited meditator, and that’s defining your north star.

According to EarthSky, the North Star or Pole Star—aka Polaris—is famous for holding nearly still in our sky while the entire northern sky moves around it.

Metaphorically speaking, your North Star is your personal mission statement. It’s a fixed destination that you can depend on in your life as the world changes around you.

For example, Gary Vaynerchuk has a goal of one day owning the New York Jets. This has been a lifetime dream of his and he cares deeply about it. Now his actions day-to-day are geared towards this specific goal. Whether it’s a new partnership, letting go of staff or starting a new venture, his decisions trickle down from his north star.

Gary is not alone in this example.

Michelle Obama is dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams.

Mark Zuckerberg wants to connect the world and Facebook is his vehicle to achieve that goal.

Nelson Mandela’s mission was to liberate all people from the continuing bondage of poverty, suffering, gender and other discrimination.

Our north star is to inspire millions to live a minimalist, vegan lifestyle. This blog is the stepping stone towards reaching this goal.

Achieving your north star is not the point.

Don’t get to hung up on reaching your goal. The whole point of your north star is to help you make informed decisions today. Be content with your progress, knowing that you’re one step closer towards your mission.

Can your north star change?

Over time you may find that your north star will evolve as you evolve. That’s completely fine. You may experience something that pushes you in a different direction.

You may also reach your goal, which means it’s time to set a new mission. This could mean an extension of your current goal or a new one altogether.

Is having a north star for everyone?

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela

I believe everyone was put on this earth for a reason. Does that mean you need to solve all of the problems of the world? No.

Having said that, way too many of us are stuck in groundhog day, and defining your north star could be a way out of it.

So, what’s your north star?

Is it being the best mother you can be?

Is it providing fresh water to the world?

Is it empowering children with disabilities?

Is it living a simple life?

Be courageous and share your north star in the comments below. Putting it out in the universe could be the thing you need to kickstart your journey.

Other posts you’ll love:

  1. Choose Your Own Path
  2. Don’t Let Your Age Hold You Back From Changing Your Life
  3. Design For White Space In Your Life
  4. How To Create An Effective Personal Integrity Report (Including Examples)
  5. Are You Living Groundhog Day?

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  • Summer 31/10/2016 Reply

    I am not a goal setter at all. It doesn’t work for me, being an intuitive and extremely reflective person. I find goals and plans to rigid, and also stressful. I want to feel my way forward in life, and not miss the opportunities that appear from left field.

    My North Star is this:
    The economy is not serving us. It breeds inequality, it exploits workers, it destroys the environment, it devalues difference, it doesn’t allow for enough life outside of work that ‘counts’ in the economy, it doesn’t take care of the vulnerable, or provide different ways for people to contribute within their capacities. But the economy is a social construction and can be changed. My North Star, the purpose of my work, is changing the economy so that it takes care of people. So that it serves all of us, not just a powerful and wealthy few.

    The work that I do comes down to this fundamental mission. I advocate and teach others to live more sustainably and make ethical purchases to promote this. I work with non profits as a consultant. I have a started a leadership network aimed at fighting for better workplaces for working mums. I also dream of making an impact on mental health in some way down the track. All of these interests are guided by my North Star.

    Beyond my North Star I might set one broad goal. Last year this goal was: find a way to earn my living independently so I could leave my part time job. I achieved that within a year, but only by being open to all the possible ways that I might be able to do it. The answer came from left field and because I didn’t have a plan I was able to see the opportunities that I might have missed otherwise.
    My next big goal is to build my earning capacity to a point the my husband starts to believe that he could qyit his job too. Other than this big goal, I just feel my way to my next move. I don’t have a plan. It doesn’t suit the way I work and I haven’t needed one to this point.

    Great article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey Summer, interesting to get thoughts on the whole goal setting thing. It’s definitely something we’ve struggled with in the past.

      You have a powerful and clear North Star which is clearly leading you on a fulfilling and meaningful path. We’re rooting for you!

      • Sandra Roggero 05/02/2017 Reply

        Have you ever heard of The Mondragon Cooperatives? They are located in the Basque Region of Spain and have served as a model for sustainable business practices that provide for the welfare of the people who work in the cooperative. They are not perfect, but some U.S. colleges have studied them. They were formed in 1957 with the guidance of a priest with social justice principles in mind. They are still in existence (as of 2017) and you may find them of interest. There are books on Amazon, also information on google and wikipedia.

        • Summer 16/03/2017 Reply

          Thanks for the the tip. I will have to look the co-operative up

  • Namrata 31/10/2016 Reply

    Love you guys, Michael & Masa <3 As a minimalist vegan myself, I completely adore you peeps and respect the work you are doing! You are my inspiration!

    My North Star is to be a work-from-home vegan blogger/recipe developer, mom to rescued/foster furbabies, hold cookery/DIY workshops for new/aspiring vegans, and be active in the animal rights scenario. I just want to build a life that revolves entirely around animals and veganism while also earning enough for a simple yet comfortable lifestyle.

    • Aw thanks Namrata, your support is our inspiration.

      You have a deep and passionate North Star around compassion for animals and we absolutely love it!

  • Sahel 02/11/2016 Reply

    I love having goals (and writing them down) I think mainly because for many years in my 20s I was a bit lost and had no idea what I wanted from life. Now I prefer being more intentional about all the actions I take, and knowing that they’re in service of something bigger keeps me on track. My ultimate goal is to help people live a simpler, more productive and more organized life using all the lessons I’ve learnt over the years!

  • Lesley 07/02/2017 Reply

    I want to support children and adults so that they are functionally literate and numerate, especially those that have special needs and/or find learning challenging. (Illiteracy and innumeracy rates amongst adult Australians are around 40%.) In a nutshell, I want to help kids learn how to read.

  • carrie 05/10/2018 Reply

    My Northstar will be the Holy Spirit leading me to do God‘s will to glorify him.

  • Jazzy Virginia 12/01/2019 Reply

    My northstar is my gut feeling. I try to avoid people that talk a lot about ‘doing the right thing’ and then they don’t follow it themselves. Corporate America always has their ‘values’ posted on the website and repeat constantly at every meeting, but management does not follow through. Seems they think these values are for the ‘working class “slaves” of the company to keep them on track. My northstar is to create a firm that assists abandoned animals. I just wish I had the finances to do this.

  • Bunga Ajeng 07/07/2019 Reply

    I am so lucky cause I could find your blog right now. It is just exactly what I need at this very moment. Thank you so much.
    I am in my twenties and of course I am a bit lost. Reading your blog makes me think a lot about what I want in my life, seriously. Hopefully I can find my north star, just like you.

    • Hi Bunga, apologies, I just saw your message. I’m so glad this post got you thinking about what you want out of your life. Keep following your curiosity, and I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for. All the best. Michael

  • Fifi R 16/07/2019 Reply

    My dream is to get rid of ALL PLASTIC use. Apart from life vests and life-saving boats, maybe silicon sacks for blood transport and transfusion—I can’t see the point of it! I hate it with passion. Why should dog and fish food be in plastic wrapped in more plastic? Strawberries DO NOT need plastic boxes.
    Make-up and cosmetics are disgusting too. Lately, the crystal and stone trends started ruining the earth too.
    Surely, all of the aforementioned modern minds could invest in finding genius sustainable materials to substitute the plastic. After all, how would they be judged by the future, depends on how they play their cards today. (And, surely they are more intelligent than staying in the history books as gossip room moguls).

    Wish me luck with the plastic war.
    Fifi R.

    • Hi Fifi, just saw your message. I couldn’t agree more! We have a big battle on our hands with plastic use. It’s heartbreaking to see just how it is in circulation. We’ll be right by your side with this mission!

  • Sukun Chopra 04/08/2019 Reply

    This article was simple yet so profound and put things in perspective, thank you! My North Star is to help citizens of the Globe become more conscious, connected and compassionate in the way that ascends the collective vibration of the human race.

    • Thanks, Sukun! Looove your North Star statement. That will certainly keep you motivated for a lifetime 🙂

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