On Purpose

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For as long as I can recall, the phrase “on purpose” has been a colloquial phrase said to mean “consciously” (as in, “I consciously ate the piece of cheese” / “I ate the piece of cheese on purpose“). I’ve recently redefined “on purpose” for myself to mean (in simplified form) “with intention”, and with a broader definition which shaped my thinking more than I realised in the moment.

on purpose

Intentionally; deliberately.

The above definition of “intentionally” or “deliberately” is what we generally mean when saying “on purpose”. That said, there is a broader definition in “purpose” which changes how we see “on purpose”.


The object toward which one strives or for which something exists; an aim or goal: Her purpose in coming here is to talk to you. The purpose of an airliner is to transport people.

We perform tasks “with purpose”. We walk “with purpose”. We can, with relative ease, substitute “intention” in place of “purpose” in these sentences.

Setting intention

Everything in our lives is a direct result of setting an intention. From opening the fridge to writing a novel, we set an intention, and then we act. Expanding this concept to our goals and what we want to achieve, it is of paramount importance to be clear and intentional about the outcome we are striving for, and the impact we intend to have. As the word “intend” indicates, this outcome and impact form our intention.

I would posit that an intention is the noun for where we use purpose as a verb. Purpose is the “doing” which results in the outcome and impact of our intention.

On purpose

Returning to our topic of being on purpose, this phrase has taken on a new meaning in my life. The question I now find myself asking is clearer than ever; “does what I am intending to work on line up with my purpose?” – put simply, “is what I am intending to work on, on purpose?”

With everything you do. Everything you take on. Be sure to do so on purpose.

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