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Goal Planning: Finding Your Core Purpose

“How do I know my core purpose?”

Finding your core purpose is a difficult task, one that can take a lifetime to complete.

If you don’t know your purpose, that’s OK. You’re not alone. In fact, a lot of people don’t ever take the time to consider it, so even fewer people are able to actually know their core purpose. The reason for that is because defining your purpose is very challenging and confusing.

It seems to me, that all living beings have an innate need to honor and protect that which provides them with energy, or their food source. In other words, the ultimate source of our energy and life, whatever that is for you, should be what we live our lives to serve and cultivate.

Our core purpose as living beings is essential to serve, honor, and nurture our source of life and energy. So, whatever your purpose is, it should be something that improves the wellbeing of your environment, community, and tribe, because you need them to breathe, eat, drink, and live. The more that you can improve the wellbeing of your environment, community, and tribe, the better that you will breathe, eat, drink, and live.

So, when I begin training with a new student I always ask

One of my new personal training clients, Nancy, had no idea what to say when I asked her to declare her purpose.

“Ummmmm, my purpose is to enjoy life?” she responded, half asking half answering. “I don’t know. I’m going to school to be a nurse, but it’s not my purpose. It’s my profession. How do I know what my purpose is?”

“Good question!” I answer. I always put it as, 4 questions. 

  1. What do you want?
  2. What do you want to be?
  3. What do you want to be able to do?
  4. What do you want to be able to do for your energy source?

“To know that, you have to know yourself very well, and you also have to have a lot of awareness for your surrounding environment. Meaning, you have to know what you’re able to do, while also knowing what the world needs. You have to know what you want, deep down inside, and some people never go there.”

“I know who and where I am. I’m Nancy, it’s Tuesday, and we’re in San Jose, CA.” She says sarcastically.

“OK. That’s a start, but to really know yourself is to know what you like to do with your time and energy. What do you like to do? What did you do this week?” I asked her.

“I went to school, went to work, hung out with my friends, and worked out.”

“Nice. Now, what do you love the most? What are you most passionate about? Who or what would you get in a fist fight to protect?”

She says, “I love my family and my friends, and I would beat the crap out of anyone that messed with them. I would fight to protect a helpless person too, like a little kid or a super old woman.”

“Very nice! You have a lot of passion, fire, and love for your friends, family, and your community.” It makes things so much easier to train people when they give a shit about things.

“Your purpose is to use your time and energy serving those people you just mentioned. Don’t forget that part of your purpose is to serve and protect your loved ones. Your inner warrior should definitely be one of the voices you listen to when you think about your inner purpose.”

Nancy looks at me funny. “My inner warrior?” she asks. “As in I’m going to be fighting in a war?”

“Life is a fight, a constant challenge. We’re constantly fighting to survive and thrive, and part of your life purpose is to help your loved one’s do the same. They need you to be able to compete and “fight” for them in this challenging environment.”

“Gotcha. You’re using fighting as a metaphor for doing well in life? The better that I can “fight”, the better that I can provide for my family and community?”

“YUP! Now, we know who you love, but what do you love doing?” I ask.

“I love nature, animals, and traveling. I love to paint and draw. I love baking and playing music, often at the same time. I love all animals” Nancy says with a big smile on her face.

“Excellent! But you’re leaving someone out” I explain. “Who else do you love? You love yourself, don’t you?”

“Obvi!!! Who doesn’t?!”

“Well, some people live their entire lives serving other people or other causes. Because they never spend any time and energy on themselves, their health suffers” I tell her.

“You’re also “fighting” for your own well-being, as well as for those around you. If you aren’t happy and healthy, you’re not helping anyone or anything.”

“I have to be healthy and love myself before I can effectively pursue my purpose?” Nancy asked.

“Exactly. You must be powerful and energetic yourself before you can go out there and make an impact” I say. “Now that you’ve told me what you love, it’s time to tell me what are you good at. Do you have any special skills, talents, or abilities?”

“I make the best cookies and brownies, I can sing and play the piano, I’m a straight A student, and I’m really good with kids. Back in the day, I was the captain of my volleyball, swimming, and softball team.” Nancy responds modestly, trying not to brag.

“Wow! You are very talented and intelligent, which means you’ll be able to help a lot of people and make a bigger difference.” I tell her as I try to make sure that she recognizes the potential of her own power.

“Now, what are your ambitions? What do you want to do while you’re on this planet?” I ask.

“I’m not sure what I want to do, but I know I want to help people. I want to see the world, and I want to be a mother and have a family of my own,” Nancy says with confidence.

“Excellent. It’s a lot easier to find your purpose when you know what you love and what you want out of life. It also helps to know what your unique skills and talents are.

“One more question. If you could join any cause or any type of social movement, which one would you choose?” I ask her.

“I want to end homelessness. I would really like to help homeless people.”

“Awesome. From that information, you should be able to determine a righteous purpose. Now that we know what you love, what you can do, and what you’d like to do, we can determine who you are going to be. All you need to do is combine your love, passions, and ambitions, with your skills, abilities, and opportunities.”

“That sounds too easy. What if I’m wrong, and we pick the wrong thing?”

“Honestly, you’re probably going to be wrong about your purpose, especially since you’re young and you have less awareness, and that’s OK. The truth is that things change, and we have no idea what life has in store for us. You never really know for sure until it’s over.”

“Wait, what?! This whole discussion is a waste of time?” she asks

“Not at all. The important thing is that you spend your time and energy pursuing something. Anything. Spending a lifetime of time and energy spent on nothing is a waste, but time and energy spent pursuing any type of passion is time and energy well spent.”

“You don’t have to find your purpose right now, but it’s also good to know that your time and energy is meant for something. Like I said, a lot of people don’t even think about it, and even fewer people spend very much time and energy figuring it out. Just attempting to figure it out is better than complete ignorance and stagnation.”

“What if I can’t make a decision? There are so many options that it’s confusing!” Nancy says as she overwhelms herself with all of the possibilities for her life path.

“If you don’t know why you’re alive, then you’re a student figuring it out. Right now you’re learning how you can best serve those that you love, searching for the righteous path. You might find a new path along the way, or you may reach your initial destination. Who knows?

“Regardless, it’s time to start walking with intention and purpose. It doesn’t matter what path it is, just get walking and start pursuing something.

“Those with a purpose have an easier time staying shape, because they have something to live for, and they have goals. They have a reason to be alive. Give yourself a reason to live, set some goals, and watch how easily the energy flows.”

I finished our discussion with my four questions.

Now that you have thought a little bit about what you like, what you like doing, and what you’d like to do better, I’ll ask you four questions.”

“What do you want?” I said.

“I want a beautiful family, a house, and a great career.”

“Perfect. What do you want to be?”

“I want to be an educator in the nursing field.”

“Excellent. What do you want to be able to do?”

“I want to be able to teach nursing at a nice university, and I want to be able to raise my family in a beautiful and enriched homestead.”

“One more. What do you want to be able to do for your energy source?”

“What energy source?”

“Who gives you your energy?

“The food I eat and the air I breathe comes from the planet or the environment.”

“Who pays for that food? What creates the oxygen you breath?”

“My parents are putting me through school right now, and the oxygen comes from the ecosystem. .”

“Interesting. You say, the planet, the environment, your parents.”

“What can you do for your ancestors and your planet?”

“I can honor my ancestors and planet Earth by being an honorable person, taking care of myself, my family, and my environment, I suppose.” Nancy says brilliantly.

“Now, if you don’t know what your purpose is by now, then you haven’t been paying attention. Now that you know your purpose, it’s time to set some goals, so that you know you’re always on the way to accomplishing that purpose.”

Check out the previous entries in my goal planning series, to learn how to create goals, and a plan that match up with your core purpose. Once your purpose, goals, plans, and actions align, you’ll experience much more fulfillment.

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