What is your primary aim in life?

Have you ever asked yourself why you get out of bed in the morning? How about what people will say about you at your funeral? A primary aim in life gives you a reason and answer to these questions If you've never thought about this or written down, I'll give you some reasons why you should.

Reason one. I recently sprung this question on my wife while getting ready for bed. Her response was something like a dear in the headlights. Eventually, her answers trickled out; then she turned the question back on me. I replied confidently with clarity and purpose, a great feeling. She smiled adoringly and said, “that’s why I’m glad I married you.”

Reason two. What I didn’t tell her was that I spent a week thinking about this exact question. The end result was the following list, giving me a road map to the best version of me I can be. It’s been edited, re-edited, and even posted on the wall above my desk as a constant reminder.

With no clear picture of how you wish your life to be, how on earth can you begin to live it?” – Michael Gerber

Reason three. I was originally inspired by Michael Gerber’s book, The E-Myth, which posed the question, “What is your primary aim in life?” However, I was re-inspired reading Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. One of Dan’s key findings was that when a person has a clear sense of purpose in their life, they will statistically live longer and have better health.

My Primary Aim in Life:

  1. Live for Jesus Christ and the glory of God
  2. Live with purpose and passion every day
  3. Help others in pursuit of number 1 and 2
  4. Be a great husband, father, provider and leader of my family
  5. Foster meaningful relationships with friends and family
  6. Be a wildly successful entrepreneur and businessman
  7. Be healthy, active, fit and take care of my body
  8. Be the most encouraging and uplifting person I know
  9. Always be learning, never give up, and give my absolute best
  10. Live with financial freedom, and be content with that I have

The Okinowans call this concept “ikigai,” which roughly translates as “that which makes life most worth living”. In Costa Rica, it’s your “plan de vida” or life plan. Whatever term used, it’s worth taking time to conciously think about what matters most in your life. And hopefully–write it down.

Why should you create a list?

  • You’ll inspire other people if they ask
  • It will be a guide to the best version of you
  • It could help you live longer and be more healthy

Helpful Questions:

These were the questions from The E-Myth that I used to create my list above. Take your time and don’t expect it to be perfect first try. I’m still working on mine 3 years later. Also, be sure to share in the comments below!

  • What do I wish my life to look like?
  • How do I wish my life to be on a day-to-day basis?
  • What would I like to be able to say I truly know in my life, about my life?
  • How would I like to be with other people in my life–my family, my friends, my business associates, my customers, my employees, my community?
  • How would I like people to think about me?
  • What would I like to be doing two years from now? Ten years from now? Twenty years from now? When my life comes to a close?
  • What specifically would I like to learn during my life–spiritually, phisically, financially, technically, intellectually? About relationships?

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  • raul

    Thanks Travis!!!!!

    This is what I was looking for…thanks alot…
    God bless you!!

  • Dave Vaughan

    I just reread the Emyth & I’m in the process of answering that very question regarding the Primary Aim. I love what you had to say – it certainly helps put things into perspective as I put the EMyth principles into place for my business. Great job!

  • Steve

    Hi Travis,
    I googled primary aim today and found your blog. Thanks for the inspiration. It’s amazing how this exercise helps me see the things that really matter most, like living each day as an adventure, my loving relationships with God, my children and my wife. Being an inspiration and mentor for others, and learning from those individuals as well. I like your expression, Wildly successful. Me too. I put my hope in Jesus and know I will see the fulfillment of God’s promise of exceedingly abundant living!!
    I’d like to hear from you and see how your doing at living the dream!

    • http://www.glidedesign.com Travis McAshan


      All in all, I would venture to say that creating a list to go by has helped me solidify my “plan de vida” (as the Costa Rican’s say) or “ikigia” (as the Okinowan’s say). Basically, my “life plan” or “reason on for getting out of bed in the morning.” If someone were to grill me on why I get up in the morning… it’d be this list I’d use as an answer. If I died tomorrow, I would hope that someone would say these things about my life. And finally, I hope in my twilight years I’ll have comfort in knowing I strove to accomplish all of my primary aims. I figure if I live every day thinking/considering/working on these things, I’ll ALWAYS be where I’m supposed to be, with the people around me that should be there and having the success I wanted and deserve. Further thoughts?

  • Sher

    Today first of January 2013, Tank You Travis! All the Best!

  • Abdullah Ahmad

    I’ve read more than one article and book about having an aim in life, but yet I don’t believe that it’ll make my life better or easier!
    maybe because I think that if I have an aim or dream I’ll be restrained and my life it’ll be tougher, I know I’m thinking negatively, but the problem that I can’t get rid of these thoughts.

  • Eddy

    I m sorry if it disturbs your peace but i cant see why all of you who do belive so much in god whilst live without these tales can be even better than enslaving yourselfs to a belive built on ideas that might have some truth in it but i myself think jesus was made up by the authors of the bible and even if he was kinda special i dont think he was so much different from us. btw i think theres some greater power(is it dark matter/energy? who knows) in the universe but dont imagine it as god. the whole universe is connected and we are all just a part of it. Trust in yourself rather than god or jesus he was just a human!

    still this article seems to be helpful but i for myself still cant figure out which aims to focus since there is such an endless range of them.

    • Tista

      I agree with you about what you said of God/ Jesus.
      But as for finding the aim, this article has put forth some important questions of life in the quest of its aim which becomes harder to answer as we descend down the list.
      And I think none can answer them for us except ourselves. And as you say ‘an endless range of them’ its probably true because ‘Success is not the destination but the journey’.

  • junayd

    thank you, now i know what my aim is

  • Justin Randall

    purpose and passion toward what, dude. Let’s try and not spit out hallmark gift cards here.

    • Prinon Das

      totally agree

  • TominColorado

    Wow! Travis outstanding job with your list. It helped provide a solid foundation for my own and I appreciate your time and insight. Not sure how you climbed so high on Google but I too just finished reading E-Myth and looking forward to kicking this show in the pants!

  • Mithlesh Kumar

    i am not take decission ..any work for life

  • Tista

    Thanks for uploading this post 🙂 It’s worth reading.

    Its 8th May 2014, Thursday, today, i have the basic idea of my primary aim sketched out now.
    I hope i work out well for me.
    I’ll update my feed back soon.

  • Chicago Land

    I like the part about God/Jesus. Sometimes I try to picture myself on my deathbed in a hospital. Who or what would be important to me in that hour? Much of the world is fleeting and as Scripture says, “passing away.” I find my attachments to many things to be very shallow. I just don’t care about much of what the spirit of the world says is important. I get the sense it’s better to focus on a few things and really get them right than to be all over the place but not really excelling at anything. I believe Jesus awaits on the other side of this life, and rather than looking at Him as merely a historical figure or good role model. I really do sense He is the source of my life. “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” Thanks for this article.

  • shining student
  • ruchi

    but my life is finish there is nothing to do…..even no ones want me and no one love me even my parents also so what ccan i do…..

    • febiecanete

      Don’t worry life sucks you get used to it, my boyfriend said. Seriously I’ve been in that situation b4 but it doesn’t mean u can’t find the answer. The best thing I can advice make a wish everyday, every m comes from your heart cause that’s makes you more positive as you can see positive things in your life it will be even brighter.

    • Lovekesh Gupta

      no i think someone is special for you waiting n he love you very much because god is every where every time gold help us may take some time but after you will feel god help you and that time you believe in their power

  • lateral

    Shit Article

  • febiecanete

    Success is a happiness and contentment not a competition of degree and profession.

  • Gustavo Morazan

    the most important of all that its the jesus part, doing that you will receive thing than ever imagine, and is not possible to understand if you never feel it
    Congrats your list was helpful

  • Emon ahmed

    it was a great moment to having your website in right time to get my own dream and fulfill it like what i always wanted to be , some sort of your explaination help me to hit the opportunity to reach the goal of my life.

  • Ankey

    I’m Ankey, and want to know my aim in my life.
    B’coz my father is not agree to my aim.
    My aim is that travelling and spending time in every country of this world.,without any doubt which is created in my mind through my dad.
    So, plz give me the right suggestion.

    • Deepak

      I have the similar aim in my life to travel across the world. But for that my financial status is not good and I finally decided to concentrate on my studies to get a job that can worth me to travel all over the world. So my main aim now is to focus on study as hard and get the best job possible for me.

  • Maurice Kindermann

    Love this, thank you for sharing. I’m reading through the book for the first time and this question had me stumped.

  • Anita

    I picked up three great life aims: 1) be the best version of yourself; 2) live longer and more healthy; 3) inspire other people if they ask you.

  • Parag Baji

    Earlier I tried to write and ended up failing…
    Now these questions give me new direction.
    Thank you very much.

  • jayasree reddy

    i didn’t know the answer what can i do in my life and also what is my aim?