“What’s your core purpose?”
That’s always the first question that I ask, whenever I’m training a new student.
Most people don’t have an answer for that question. Startled and confused, my poor clients usually look at me crazy, like I’m their dad or their high school counselor.
So, I’ll ask in another way. “Why do you exist? What do you want to do with your time and energy in this life? What do you want it to say on your tombstone?”
Still, they look at me like I’m on drugs.
One client, named James, said, “You know, you’re not Dr. Phil or Tony Robbins. You’re my trainer. I just want you to show me how to train, eat, and stay healthy. We don’t need to get into a deep discussion about spirituality and religious beliefs. I’m supposed to be learning self-defense and getting in shape.”
“Your life goals have nothing to do with your fitness goals? Your deepest desires and inner purpose don’t affect your choices and behavior? How do you expect to get in shape and learn MMA, if all of this is unrelated and irrelevant to your core purpose? How can you expect to achieve your fitness and training goals if they don’t align with your life goals?”
He answers back, “Well, my life goals and fitness goals are two totally different things. If I say that my purpose is to help my kids to grow up to be strong, healthy, and happy, how is that supposed to affect my workout? Like you’re going to have me to different exercises if my purpose is to teach literacy to the uneducated or to find a cure cancer?”
“Listen. I know this unorthodox. Most people don’t ever talk about their purpose, especially to their personal trainer. However, I use this method to help people reach their goals all the time. Just tell me why you want to get in shape and learn martial arts.”
Why get in shape?
James finally gives me an answer. “Well, I want to get in shape, and I want a better-looking body. I want to look sexier for my wife, and I want to be a good example for my kids. I figure that if I look better, and feel better, they’ll have a better life.”
“So you’re a father and a husband. Those are two very important purposes that require a healthy mind and body. What else do you do with your time and energy?”
“I’m director at a non-profit. I work long hours and help a lot of people.”
“Good!” I say excitedly. I love it when my clients have ambitions and drive. “You’re a man with a lot of purpose, and therefore, you have good reason to stay in shape. The more meaning behind your life goals, the more likely you are to achieve your fitness goals. Why? Because being in good shape helps you to achieve your life goals. Being full of energy, having focus and balance, and feeling good, helps no matter what your life goal.”
“You’re saying you want to know my life purpose because getting in shape and learning martial arts will help me achieve my life goals?” James says as the light bulb goes on over his head.
“Exactree! It’s super important that your life goals align, and that they are connected to your health and fitness goals. The stronger the alignment and connection between your life goals and your health and fitness goals, the more likely you are to achieve both.”
“We’re having this discussion because my life goals and my fitness goals are connected…because they both affect one another?”
“YUP! Your inner purpose is the central consideration whenever you do anything. It’s the compass, the foundation, and the basis for every decision you make in your life. Your purpose is the cause to the effect of your behavior decisions. So, whenever you’re setting goals, it’s always important to start with your purpose, because it’s central to everything you do.”
Your purpose should determine your health and fitness goals because health and fitness is a prerequisite to fulfilling that purpose. This is why people with a lot of purpose have a lot of reason to stay in shape and to be healthy, well-functioning human beings. People with a lot of purpose also have to be sharp, energetic, and long lasting.
If we all understood the importance of health and wellness as it relates to our ability to perform and function at home, at work, and everywhere else, we’d all be in excellent shape.”
“Do you think about your inner purpose when you workout?” he skeptically asks me.
“You bet your bottom dollar I do. When I’m training, sparring, or drilling, I imagine the energy flowing through my mind and body, and the intention for that energy flow is always purposeful. I move and release my energy to improve my energy levels, increase control, focus, and stamina so that I can better serve my inner purpose. I imagine that more that I move, and the more energy flowing through my body, the closer I am to achieving my purpose.”
“Alright, Mr. What’s your purpose?” he asks curiously.
“I am a warrior, motivator, and cultivator. My purpose is to help balance the energy flow throughout the world, by helping people to connect to their inner warrior, through martial arts training. I believe the warrior spirit is missing in today’s society, but if we’re able to able to awaken and revitalize that spirit through the pursuit of our inner purpose, things in the world would improve significantly. Not to mention all the people that would live healthier lifestyles.”
“You’re saying a lot of people don’t have a strong inner purpose, and this is why they live an unhealthy lifestyle?” asks James.
“Kind of. More like everyone has a very strong and meaningful inner purpose, but most people don’t realize what that purpose is, nor do they set goals to fulfill it. We all have a good reason to live a healthy lifestyle, but not all of us see the connection to the things that matter most to us. No matter what you’re passionate about, whatever matters to you the most, you can do more to serve the things that deserve our energy.”
Why get in shape?
“So I’m getting in shape and learning martial arts for my family, my career, and my community, only to serve them better.
“We aren’t training with the sole purpose of making your loved ones happier. This is about making you happier too, because your experience also matters. It’s not all altruism and sacrifice. Part of your inner purpose is to experience health, happiness, and pleasure. This is harder to do when your body and mind suffers from poor health and dysfunction. You have to take care of yourself to experience fulfillment.” I explain, as our purpose discussion comes to a full circle.
“Now, write down three things that would describe your purpose. Usually, your purpose is a type of person or a profession, like. Other purposes that other people have used were: father, mother, educator, student, gardener, healer, builder, entrepreneur, influencer, diplomat, ambassador, soldier, fighter, champion, or peacekeeper.”
James digs deep and finally reveals some of the goals that he’s been keeping to himself. “I want the non-profit that I direct to help everyone that needs help in our community, I want to be a philanthropist, and I want to be the best father and the best husband that I can be.”
“Boom! You just said three things. Philanthropist, husband, and father. You might have also said leader, guardian, founder, patron, or guide. Now, write down three of these on a piece of paper. Draw a circle around them. That’s your purpose. It’s the core of your identity, the center of your world.”
“Now that we know who you are going to be, it’s time to set a long-term goal.”
Check out my next article in my five-part goal planning series,