“Why is this happening to me?”— This is a question we tend to ask ourselves when things seem to be going badly wrong, and we are suffering. It’s also one of the most commonly asked questions given to psychics, mediums and spiritual channels.

And the answer given is quite often the same: that before we were born as human beings, we — as souls — planned the life we are now living, including the challenges we are now facing.

We did not do so in order to suffer, however, but as an opportunity to choose not to suffer.

And yet, no matter how much or how little we suffer, the end result will be the same — a degree of growth for our soul. This may come in the form of greater self-understanding, for instance, or greater compassion for others.

The growth we hope to gain is like a “learning objective”, while the challenges we face in order to meet the objective are the “lessons” which we have set for ourselves.

Life Plans

A life plan is a rough outline of what we intend to happen at different stages in the life to come.

Like a military plan of action, it will have a general route-map of the entire mission, with an entry point (birth), an end point (death), a main objective (the life lesson), a bunch of key landmarks and waypoints along the way to help keep us on track (education, relationships, employment, etc), and a few contingency plans in case the main plan doesn’t work out. There can even be a few strategically-placed early exit points (such as potentially fatal illnesses and accidents) so that we can return home to safety if we feel it’s all become a bit too much.

Life Plan example

This is quite a good analogy because, rather like military operations, our soul plans are not set in stone, programmed to unfold automatically. If that were the case, we would be nothing but puppets, mindlessly acting out the scripts that have already been written. There wouldn’t be much point or value in that.

In fact, our life plans are quite loosely defined, leaving plenty of room for exploration and improvisation. And the outcomes are always unpredictable.

Why is this? It’s because free will is built into the game plan.

Even though we have these plans that cover our entire lives, the whole point is to experience life situations “in the raw” and respond to them in whatever way we choose. Yes, certain events will happen at certain times, just as planned. That traumatic childhood experience, that “chance encounter” with an old friend on a trip to New Zealand, that humiliating experience of failure … Certain things we have arranged will simply happen anyway. The Universe will see to it. But what we choose to do about such things is wide open. We are free to react with pleasure or displeasure. We are free to dive in or opt out. We are free to do what feels right — or not.

As they say in the military, no plan survives contact with the enemy. In other words, our soul plans for this life are not scripts to be acted out; they are just plans. The key events and milestones are mapped out in advance but our actions down here on the ground are completely a matter of free choice. No outcome is predetermined. You and I and everyone else we meet are choosing our own way.  That’s the whole point of the game of life.


While we individually plan each of our own lives to serve our own needs and interests, no single life plan or life experience exists in a vacuum, isolated from the rest. We are all in this together. Everything you planned to do in this lifetime meshes seamlessly with the life plans of all others involved.

Your own life plan, no doubt, features a number of key experiences involving others, but their life plans will likewise feature those same experiences with you. We’ve all agreed to participate in each other’s life experiences.

Some refer to these mutual agreements as “soul contracts”, but the term contract is a bit too formal. A contract is a legally binding commitment. If we fail to fulfil a legal contract, we can be in serious trouble. But soul plan agreements are not like formal contracts. They are literally just agreements — informal intentions to get together for a particular reason, if we feel still like it at the time.

For example, my wife and I presumably agreed to be married partners in this life. I am also sure that we planned to meet for the first time on a particular spiritual retreat in 1992. And that her physical disability — strikingly similar to my own brother’s — was a “cue” to me that this is her, this is the one. Indeed, I soon felt a sense of inevitability that we were “meant to be together.”

But that’s not to imply there was some sort of cosmic kismet in action, that our love was forever “written in the stars”, or that she is the only true love for me in the whole of existence. It simply means that, in our pre-life planning, we had agreed to get together as loving partners for our mutual support and benefit. At any point, either of us could have backed out of the agreement.

Some agreements are not so pretty. In fact, many agreements are designed to bring us into conflict with others. We might agree to complete a karmic sequence, for example. Or, just for the sake of our own growth, we might plan to have an angry parent or an abusive husband — and we will enter into an agreement with another soul to enact that relationship with us.

We may experience a great deal of conflict in our lives on Earth, but ultimately there is no conflict. Yet at a much level higher than we can normally perceive, everything is completely integrated and harmonious.

According to the Michael teachings among others, almost every lifetime we live is designed for a purpose — to fulfil a certain learning objective or life task. (I say almost because we do occasionally live lives that are intended for nothing but a bit of R&R leisure time; see the goal of relaxation.)

Life Tasks

A life task is something we set out to experience or achieve within a given lifetime — our primary intention for a single incarnation. It’s a means to an end, a way to fulfil our learning objective.

“The life task is the focus which your essence has chosen in a particular incarnation as one with the most pertinent impact in terms of soul evolution.” — Michael

This task won’t be a specific one-off achievement such as “climbing Mount Everest”. Rather, it will be a positive theme that is both personally challenging and inspiring, and also of value to others in some way. Examples would include:

“Demonstrating integrity through leadership”

“Inspiring others to believe in themselves”

“Exploring the meaning of love through the medium of art”

So your current life task is that which You (as essence, soul, or spirit) intend to experience or achieve as a learning objective while living this lifetime as you, the human personality you see in the mirror.

Generally speaking, your life task will be naturally consistent with your soul type and level. (My own example, explained below, illustrates this very well.)

Typically, it takes about three lifetimes to fulfil a life task successfully and thereby take the step up in growth. So your specific task in this life might be the same as the one in your last life, and possibly in your next life too.

While experiencing a human life, we are not normally conscious of our life’s plan or purpose. Nor are we able to change them. We do, however, have complete free choice over what we do or don’t do as we live our own life.

The Mid-Life Turning Point

The life task is usually designed to unfold as our “true work” in the second half of life. Before that, the first half of life is mostly preparation: acquiring the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and experiences that will come in useful for fulfilling the life task. Our choice of body, overleaves, life events and childhood circumstances will mostly be geared towards fulfilling the intended life task.

This is one reason why bad things often happen to children and young adults — they are undergoing a preplanned experience, one that has been designed to shape their emerging personality and steer them in a particular direction. For example, someone whose life task is to be “to serve children in need” might plan to undergo an early experience of losing their own parents and then having a difficult childhood when adopted. These unpleasant experiences would imbue them with the personal understanding and compassion needed to best fulfil their later life task.

The same is also true of positive experiences, such as having a happy childhood, a wonderful grandparent, or an inspiring school teacher. Such experiences will also help shape the emerging personality for the life task to come later.

Typically, our life task will not begin to come into focus until we are past 35 or so. Once we reach our mid-30s or 40s, we tend to feel the “prod” to get on with fulfilling our life task. Younger souls are not so conscious of this, but Mature souls are often acutely aware of it — a sense of longing to find a purpose. For some, the mid-life turning point can be excruciating as it throws into question everything that has been set up in life so far. “Perhaps I’m in the wrong career. Perhaps I’m in the wrong relationship. Perhaps I should move to a different country…” The future feels like a void of uncertainty.

Finding Fulfilment

When many people first learn of all this (myself included), they begin to fret that they will never fulfil their life task because they don’t know what it is. Yet there is a very simple solution, even if we do not explicitly know our life tasks…

  • Life will engineer things to give us the opportunity, no matter what.
  • If we stall, life will give us a gentle prod.
  • If we resist, life will give us a not-so-gentle push. 

And we can tell if we are on track by checking our own feelings.

  • As we make choices that are aligned with our life plan, we experience excitement, harmony, happiness and fulfilment.
  • If we make choices that go against our life plan, we experience frustration, boredom, discontent and a lack of fulfilment.  
  • If we follow our best feelings, our life plan unfolds effortlessly in a way the brings us joy.

“The life task is what can be most easily accomplished by the focused and
realized action of Essence. In other words, when you are acting in Essence, any work accomplished under its influence, even if it is only transplanting petunias, leads to the development of work on the Life Task. In a very real sense, attaining that state IS the Life Task.” — Michael

The way to be on track, then, is to simply relax and go with what feels good to us.

But why this life task? What is the lesson to be learned?

Remember that a life task will usually reflect and resonate with the role and age of the soul. In my case, as a Scholar soul, my natural talent is to accumulate knowledge. And as a 5th-cast or Sage-cast Scholar, I am also drawn to broadcast what I know with a bit of wit and fun. As a Mature Scholar, my awareness is focused on grasping the true meaning of things in life, especially the relationships between all things. And as a 5th-level Mature Scholar, my evolutionary challenge is to share my understanding with many others. Putting all that together, my current life task couldn’t really be anything else.