How To Find Your Major Definite Purpose



“Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings.”  — C.D. Jackson

Before you figure out your next actions, it helps to first find a worthy purpose.

For example, what would be the one thing that would wake you out of bed in the morning and get you fired up for your day?

Once you know your bigger purpose, it’s easier to figure out your next actions.  And, when you know your bigger purpose, it can help you funnel your time, energy, and effort into something that really matters to you.

Brian Tracy calls this your Major Definite Purpose and he defines it like this:

“The one goal that is most important to you at the moment.  It is usually the one goal that will help you to achieve more of your other goals than anything else you can accomplish.”

In the book, Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want — Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible, Brian Tracy shares how you can find your Major Definite Purpose to make things matter, find your focus, and achieve your success.

6 Attributes of Your Major Definite Purpose

Brian Tracy gives us clues that help us identify and recognize our Major Definite Purpose.

Tracy writes:

  1. It must be something that you personally really want.  Your desire for this goal must be so intense that the very idea of achieving your major definite purpose excites you and makes you happy.
  2. It must be clear and specific.  You must be able to define it in words.  You must be able to write it down with such clarity that a child could read it and know exactly what it is that you want and be able to determine whether or not you have achieved it.
  3. It must be measurable and quantifiable.  Rather than ‘I want to make a lot of money,’ it must be more like ‘I will earn $100,000 per year by (a specific date).’
  4. It must be both believable and achievable.  Your major definite purpose cannot be so big or so ridiculous that it is completely unattainable.
  5. Your major definite purpose should have a reasonable probability of success, perhaps fifty-fifty when you begin.  If you never achieved a major goal before, set a goal that has an 80 percent or 90 percent probability of success.  Make it easy on yourself, at least at the beginning.  Late on, you can set huge goals with very small probabilities of success and you will still be motivated to take the steps necessary to achieve them.  But in the beginning, set goals that are believable and achievable and that have a high probability of success so that you can be assured of winning right from the start.
  6. Your major definite purpose must be in harmony with your other goals.  Your major goals must be in harmony with your minor goals and congruent with your values.

Ask Yourself The Great Question

Sometimes to find our Major Definite Purpose, we have to go out on a limb and dream a little.

Tracy writes:

“Here is the key question for determining your major definite purpose:

What one great thing would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?

If you could be absolutely guaranteed of successfully achieving any goal, large or small, short term or long term, what one goal would it be?  Whatever you answer to this question, if you can write it down, you can probably achieve it.  From then on, the only question you should ask is, ‘How?’  The only real limit is how badly you want it and how long you are willing to work toward it.”

Keep Your Feet on the Ground

Brian Tracy shares a story of how an attendee at one of his seminars set a goal to be a millionaire within one year, even though she was broke and had just lost her job due to incompetence.

He warned her that we have to stay grounded in we can reasonably achieve given our current circumstances and possibilities.  Otherwise, goals that aren’t grounded in our reality work against us and demotivate us.

Tracy writes:

“She informed me that I had said that you could set any major goal you wanted as long as you were clear, and she was therefore convinced that was all she needed to be successful.  I had to explain to her that her goal was so unrealistic and unattainable in her current circumstances that it would only discourage her when she found herself so far away from it.  Such a goal would end up demotivating  her rather than motivating her to do what she would need to do to be financially successful in the years ahead.”

Don’t Sabotage Yourself

If your goals aren’t believable and achievable, then they work against you in multiple ways.

Tracy writes:

“I made this same mistake myself when I was younger.  When I first started setting goals, I set an income that was ten times what I had ever earned in my life.  After many months and no progress at all, I realized that my goal was not helping me.  Because it was so far beyond anything that I had ever achieved, it had no motivating power.  In my heart of hearts, although I wanted it, I really did not believe it was possible.  And since I did not believe it was possible, my subconscious mind rejected it and my reticular cortex simply failed to function.  Don’t let this happen to you.”
What would you dare if you knew you couldn’t fail?

You Might Also Like

Brian Tracy on the Best Times for Writing and Reviewing Your Goals

Focus on the Wildly Important

How To Guarantee Your Ultimate Success and Achieve Any Goal

How To Set Better Goals with Well-Defined Outcomes

Zig Ziglar on Setting Goals


  1. Great timing! I’m listening to the monolithic collection of CDs which comprise “Think and Grow Rich: The Landmark Bestseller–Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century”. As I’m sure you know, the underlying theme of this landmark work is defining & pursuing one’s Definite Purpose. The 6 Attributes defined above provide good clarity.

    I was struck by your “…Feet on the Ground” & “…Sabotage” sections. I have a family member who has weighed over 1/4 of a ton. He has long vowed to lose his excess weight. Yet year-after-year his commitments go unmet because he fails to follow-through in a manner consistent with success. This year, bless his heart, he’s once again declared that this will be the year! And this time *is* different–he has failed before he even starts. His goal of losing “75 – 100 pounds” in “two or three months” is a recipe for failure–it simply isn’t possible for him to do so. In spite of my efforts to serve as a reality check, he won’t be dissuaded from his aspirations.

    • Speaking of Major Definite Purpose, I stumbled across my purpose:

      “Show how anyone can do anything, better.”

      It’s from when I did my Golden Circle exercise.

      Where purpose and passion meet, is our playground.

      I think rather than debate pounds, I’d focus on putting a believable plan on paper. I’d write down and list behaviors to START, STOP or CONTINUE, for morning, noon, and night. This would tap way more of your experience and insight in a practical and highly valuable way.

      The clarity and confidence that comes from showing what an ideal day is supposed to look like on paper is astounding.

      And, your gift would keep on giving.

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