Goals

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If you are like me, goals usually mean reaching a specific amount in a set amount of time. In other words, a goal should follow the SMART mnemonic–Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. We love expressing our objectives in this fashion. How many of us start the year by saying we will lose so much weight by summer or make so much for the year? And how many of us fail year after year? What happens when the summer arrives, and we still weigh the same? Nothing! That’s right! Nothing happens, except, maybe, a little guilt. If you ask me, SMART goals are mostly worthless. They’re too focused on an outcome and not a behavior to be beneficial.

I have flirted with this concept of SMART goals being worthless for a few years now. It’s easy to do when you fail time and time again, and nothing happens. The days continue, and the objectives remain the same. The only thing to do is plug away, get on with it, and keep working towards the goal. In other words, perform the necessary actions, behavior that will eventually get you to your number.

Since I have started coaching basketball, I have realized this more than ever. Obviously the goal of basketball is to win. Or, is it? It is to the casual fan, but coaches and players understand that a lot more goes into a game than simply scoring more points than your opponent. There are small parts of the game that has to be controlled, such as turnovers and rebounds, that lead to a win. For a fan the score might be the goal, but for a coach it is shot attempts, free throw attempts, turn over differential, and a host of other small aspects of the game that lead to the score. 

As a junior varsity coach, the goal is far from a score of the game. A coaches goal at the JV level is player development inside of the team. It is to prepare each individual player for the varsity team. Some players need to work on shooting or post moves whle others need to work on movement inside of the offensive set. Others, especially younger players, need to work on every aspect of the game. This can be confusing to fans when they are watching a lead disappear or a team struggle to advance the ball up the court. Sometimes it is challenging for coaches as well, but we know taking the lumps today will hopefully lead to success tomorrow. 

So, when you are thinking about goals, remember sometimes the goal isn’t the goal. It is about the small things that lead to accomplishment. 

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I started the year with a manageable fitness goal of exercising five times a week. I wanted to keep it basic after going overboard last year, so I defined exercise as either burning 3200+ calories or doing whatever I planned (e.g., walking or stretching) for the day. I knew I would be working hard on the majority of days, so I wasn’t worried about a few light days counting as workouts. The plan worked out great, especially with the COVID-19 gym closings, except I haven’t seen the results I wanted.

Yes, I have accomplished my goal every week this year; however, I was hoping to cut a little weight and become slightly leaner. It hasn’t happened. And, before you start. I know–I know–TRUST ME, I know! There are more factors involved in cutting body fat than exercise: nutrition is the main one, sleep is another, and let’s not forget about hydration. So, if I wanted to lose body fat, I sort of wrote the wrong goal. 

What I should’ve done is used the OKR (objective’s and key results) method and wrote it like this:

My Objective:

I want to lose body fat this year and become leaner.

Key Results: 

  1. I will exercise 5 times a week. I will count a day of exercise as either burning 3200 calories, according to my Fitbit, or doing a workout I plan. 
  2. I will consume 250 to 500 fewer calories a day than I burn. Limiting sugar and salt intake, I will stick with whole, natural, and unprocessed foods. I will use Fitbit to journal my daily intake.
  3. I will sleep more than 6-hours a day, and I hope to sleep more than 7. I will do this by implementing habits that aid with sleep.
  4. I drink enough coffee to hydrate an elephant, so I am not too worried about getting enough water. Perhaps, I should cut back on the caffeine so I can sleep???

That’s more like it. I defined what I want and the daily activities I need to do to accomplish it. Now, let’s see if I have the discipline and sticktoitiveness to get it. 

By the way, I know you think I want to be ripped, jacked…cut. And, you’re right! I do. However, there is more to it than vanity, but I will approach that subject later.

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I, like many of you, set my yearly fitness goal at the end of last year and started to work on it immediately after New Year’s Day. I made it simple–work out five times a week. No more chasing max lifts, PR’s, or learning a new movement like double unders this year. I wanted to keep it basic and enjoyable, and I did. I came out of the gate fast, making it to the gym 6-7 days a week. Then in mid-March, the governor closed all the state’s gyms because of COVID-19. What was I going to do?

I could have shut it down and used the quarantine as an excuse. How many of us have done just that? It would be easy to do, but fortunately, I belong to a fitness community that did not let this pandemic hold us back. We immediately decided to continue our daily journey. So instead of going to the gym, we found an outdoor venue and started following the rules of social distancing. Instead of shutting it down, we have done the exact opposite. And, I haven’t taken a day off since the quarantine has been instituted.

So take that COVID. You are not going to get in the way of this goal. You’re not taking this from me. And, it shouldn’t get in your way either.

There are many ways to continue on your journey. If you are stuck for ideas, you can follow along with our COVID-19 Workouts, or do like a few of the members of our community are doing. Borrow a barbell from your gym and get to work.

If you can’t get your hands on some equipment, go for a walk or a run. Air squats, lunges, push-ups, and sit-ups are great alternatives until you get back to the gym.

Anything is better than nothing, so don’t let the inconvenience of your gym being closed set you back. Find something to do and keep pushin’.

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Before the beginning of the year, I sat down and figured out my goals for 2020. Just like I said I was going to do in Goal Setting: What happened in 2019, I limited them to three and emphasized action over achievement. I even went as far as to study James Clear’s Atomic Habits to help me overcome some of the shortcomings that prevent me from achieving goals, such as chronic procrastination. With a solid plan in place and a clear image of what I wanted to accomplish, I got to work a few days early. 

On December 28th, 2019, I started to work on my 2020 goals, and I created a journal (log) to record distractions. In a few days, the journal developed into a daily checklist of atomic habits, small daily actions, that would lead me towards achieving my goals. I was going gangbusters for the first month. Each day, I was able to check off a large portion of the 13 items that would lead me to the end zone. Then it happened.

After twenty-nine consecutive days of creating daily, staying productive, and avoiding procrastination, I got sick, and then it started to unwind. One day I wrote, “Sick today. I can’t stop coughing” in my journal, and the next day I did nothing. The following day, I was able to muster enough motivation to start a new six-day streak to complete a few articles I was writing. After posting them, I was done and had nothing left in me to figure out what I was going to do next. I kept up with my journal entries for a week. My last entry noted that I had been coughing for twelve days, and breathing was slightly better. It would be another three days before the cough eased up enough to stop worrying about it, but by that time, I had stopped journaling, stopped performing my atomic habits, and was no longer attempting to work towards my goals. I needed something to rekindle the fire.

Whatever that something was that I needed to put a little pep in my step wasn’t there. I had no motivation to start creating. Not even the consecutive streak of dashes, which indicate I didn’t perform my atomic habit for the day, would guilt me into action. But Finally, after seventy-five days, I wrote and posted an article

What was it that broke me out of my slump and got me back on track? I want to know. No, I need to know, so I can use it when I face another downturn.

I think it was that someone showed a bit of interest in the blog, and asked me if I was writing anything new, which I hadn’t for some time. The positive feedback mixed with the slightest hint of guilt got me back on course. It was a bit lonely producing content and receiving crickets back as a response. It’s hard to keep pushing through the silence. So, receiving the slightest amount of feedback was invigorating.

I also believe lacking a clear path or direction for this project caused me to lose focus when I completed those articles at the end of January. I, of course, have an action list that I could have pulled from and started to work on, but writing exercise instruction guides is not that enthralling. It is rather tedious work. I need to get it done, and I am sure I will, but in the meantime, I am still searching for my voice and the direction I want to take this project. 

What I am saying is I feel creating pieces with more open dialogue and opinions instead of solely focusing on instruction is more rewarding and motivating. It is more enjoyable to sit down and start hammering on the keyboard for these types of articles than it is for instructional pieces. Those take time to plan, research, and structure; whereas, an opinion piece is more forgiving and open to interpretation. 

With that realization, I am planning on mixing freestyle articles with instructional pieces. Hopefully, that will keep me motived to create daily. 

Before I wrap this up, I want to note that I have been staying on top of my fitness goal. Working out is ingrained into my being. It is easier to get out of a rut for a habit that has formed over three years than one I have practiced for thirty-days.

So, in conclusion, when you fall off the wagon, seek out some positive reinforcement and adjust your plan to get back on it. Remember, not all is lost. Keep pushing. 

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In Life Purpose: Defining Yours Is Important, the first article in the series, I provided reasons why we should define our life’s purpose, and in Life Purpose: How to Define Yours, I outlined a process to help you craft a life-purpose statement. In this article, we are going to put it all together by exploring ways to determine how you can take your life’s purpose and turn it into action. 

Before we begin, I want to take a moment to discuss procrastination. If you are like me, you get bored with the day-to-day grind that it takes to accomplish a significant task or a goal. For me, it is part of my inherent personality. I am a strategist. I like to plan, but the daily work it takes to implement those plans can be a struggle. Fortunately, I stumbled across an article, Procrastination: A Scientific Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating, written by James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. In the article, he outlines techniques that I have found useful to get things done. If you have the same challenge, I hope James’ article helps you as much as it has me. Because getting things done will be necessary for pursuing your life’s purpose.  

This post will follow In the same fashion as in Life Purpose: How to Define Yours, I will be organizing the steps I took to arrive at the method I used to implement my life’s purpose. Again, it took me several years to find my course, so I hope by outlining the steps I took, it saves you time.

Let’s jump into it by defining potential careers first. 

1st – Define Potential Careers

The first step is to make a list of possible jobs that are suitable for your strength-traits and personality. To do this, you will need the information from your 16Personalities or similar test and your assessment from CliftonStrengths. Both hint at potential careers that are suitable for your natural traits. As an example, my tests describe entrepreneurship, journalism, and systems analyst as a few possible careers for me. Search through your assessments and write out all the potential jobs you find. 

As you are working through this step, remember that a career and a life’s purpose are not the same. A job should help you work towards fulfilling your life’s mission, not define it. So put aside the thought, if it arises, that you need to redefine your life’s purpose statement based on an appealing career path you discover.

Once you compile the list, place a * next to the roles you are currently filling and a + by the ones that you find interesting. If there are jobs that you vehemently know you don’t want, place a line through them. 

After I completed this exercise, I copied it into the front of a new journal for future reference. I like to look at it to find suitable roles for myself that I could use to fulfill my life’s purpose. It is also a pleasant reminder of the jobs I can perform, and that if need be, I can do something other than what I am doing at this moment. In other words, I have options, and so do you!

With our career list completed, we will now put together a purpose diagram.

2nd – Create a Purpose Diagram

A purpose diagram highlights our answers to four statements: that which I love, that which the world needs, that which I am good at, and that which I can get paid for, to help us discover a path to implementing our purpose. As you can see, we could have used this step to develop our life’s purpose statement, but I feel it is more inclined to help us implement our mission through a career than it is to define our purpose. We should not limit our life’s mission to its ability to earn us a living. For some, they will need to find other means of support while they pursue their passion. As an example, missionaries, artists, scientists, and explorers are often dependent on benefactors. With that said, let’s dive into the purpose diagram.

We will do this in two steps. First, we will create a list of ideas for each category using a four-quadrant matrix, and then we will transfer those ideas to a Venn diagram.

Four-Quadrant Matrix to Implementing Your Life Purpose

A four-quadrant matrix diagram is reasonably self-explanatory. You create one by drawing a line down the center of a page and another across the middle of it. Title each quadrant with one of the four categories.

You should end up with something like

A four quadrant matrix with the titles: Which I love, which your good at, which you get paid for, which the world needs as titles. The matrix is used to record your idea for each group.

 Now begin to fill in each with ideas. To help you get started, a brief description of each group follows. Remember, your thoughts may fall into two or more categories. If so, write them in each. 

That which you love

That which you love are the things that you enjoy the most. These are the things that you have no problem prioritizing and spending time doing. When you are doing them, time seems to pass unnoticed. Write down everything that falls into this category, even if it seems trivial. As an example, I very much enjoy spending time watching movies, so it went into my “that which I love” category along with family and God.

That which you are good at

Referring back to your personality and strength assessments will assist in identifying items for this group. You can record the skills you have or personality traits that are beneficial, such as being altruistic or an electrician. I wrote down problem-solving, learning, system design, and sports as a few of mine. 

That which the world needs

Figuring out “that which the world needs” is a little complex than the first two categories since it is outside of ourselves. If you need to, sit back and take a bit of time to consider what you feel is missing in the world. Think of what could benefit the world, or more so, your community. As an example, I wrote down better male mentors and father figures. 

That which you can get paid for

For this group, refer back to the list of careers you composed. Write down all of the jobs that you find appealing (*) or perform today(+). If you have a new idea, write it down. I wrote down system analyst, web design, fitness training consultant, web developer, and journalism. 

Once you have completed your lists, we will pull them together to see the relationships that develop by using a Venn Diagram.

Venn Diagram

In case you are not familiar with a Venn diagram, I will try to explain the concept in simple terms, but if you want the complicated version, you can check out Wikipedia. In short, a Venn diagram is a group of circles that describe a relationship between each other. The circles represent a set of information, and they usually overlap, forming cross-sections for the characteristics that fit inside two or more of the sets.  

With that explained, now grab a notebook or a piece of paper and draw four rather large overlapping circles. Label each circle with one of the four categories: 

  1. that which I love,
  2. which the world needs,
  3. that which I am good at,
  4. and that which I can get paid for

Remember to give yourself plenty of room to write. Place each idea in its proper circle, for any purposes that fit into two or more categories, note them down in the intersections of the rings. These are the ones we want to pay particular attention to, especially if they fit into all four groups.

Before filling it with ideas, your chart should look like this.

Life purpose Venn Diagram. The four interwoven circles are titled: which I love, the world needs, I'm good at, I can get paid for. The diagram provides a visual image of the four quadrant matrix.

The Intersections

As mentioned above, an idea can fit into one, two, three, or four categories, and we want to pay close attention to the ones that fill the most. These are the paths that we should use to implement our life’s purpose, especially the ones that meet all four criteria. They may differ slightly from your life’s purpose statement and may not provide an obvious answer, but you should be able to develop your plan of action.

As an example, I will describe how this process worked for me. 

At the center of my diagram, I placed the word fitness, because I recorded it in all four of my categories. Internet(web), problem-solving, and system design were the only terms that rested in three groups: I’m good at, I can get paid for, and that I love. Digital Marketing, journalism (blogging), and consulting landed in the “I can get Paid For” category. Independently, none of them made much sense, but when looking at them holistically, they provide me with a direction to work towards my life’s purpose, which is to use my skills and knowledge to bring joy to others. And, the path turned out to be Innis McMahon. 

Wrapping Up

That concludes our final step in the development and fulfillment of our life’s purpose. I hope the process provides you with a direction for your life, especially if life is leading you instead of you living it. The feeling of being trapped is not comfortable, but when you know you are working towards something greater than yourself, your life takes on a purpose and provides you with an abundance of satisfaction.

Please leave any remarks you have about the process in the comments below or find us on social media.

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In the first article of this series, Life Purpose: Defining Yours Is Important, I provided an argument to define your life’s purpose and a definition with characteristics of a meaningful purpose statement. In this article, we will go a little further with the idea and explore a process to help with identifying your own. 

Let’s begin.

First, let me say, this is not a simple task. It will take time for introspection, brainstorming, and potentially several edits. For this reason, set aside an hour or so for the next few days. As an example, I started working on mine about five years ago, and I am still revising it slightly today. Hopefully, by outlining the steps I have taken over the last several years to define my life’s purpose, the process will be quicker for you. 

Let’s jump into the first steps of the process, which will help you gain a better understanding of your inherent personality and strength-traits. 

Life-Purpose Development Process


1st – Get to Know Yourself

The very first step in developing your life-purpose statement is to gain an understanding of who you are. You may think you already have this figured out, but it is worth taking a closer look into your self and see if you are who you think you are. You may be surprised to find that you are not quite who you believe you are. 

In this phase, the first thing we will do is take a personality test. 

Personality Test

There are several personality tests available, but I like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator questionnaire administered by 16Personalities. It has provided me with the most accurate description of myself and my behaviors of any of the personality tests I have taken. Also, I like that it is cheap and quick. 

16Personalities offers a free questionnaire that takes about ten minutes to complete. You can have the information emailed to you as well as view it directly online. They provide a lot of detail that I have found very insightful. For your reference, you can find a description of their test on their website.

Regardless if you use 16 Personalities or a different assessment, gaining insight into yourself is critical in this step. Focus on how you interact with others and what motivates you. Studying the career paths for your personality type may provide you with ideas for your life’s purpose. 

Now that you have an understanding of your personality type, let’s take a look at your strength-traits. 

Strength Finder

Dr. Don Clifton, a psychologist, believed we spend too much time focusing on our weaknesses. Instead of trying to improve our deficiencies, he felt we should spend most of our time nurturing our strengths. To help others in this regard, he developed the CliftonStrengths assessment test.

Similar to a personality test, the CliftonStrengths assessment defines how you interact with the world by identifying and ordering your top five talents, or themes, out of the thirty-four available. As an example, the online 177-question test may define your themes as Achiever, Command, Developer, Restorative, and Strategic. After you complete the test, you will receive information regarding the talents and strategies on how to utilize your strengths for success. 

How I found CliftonStrengths

I stumbled across CliftonStrengths through Dr. Clifton’s book, “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” and I followed it with Tom Rath’s “StrengthFinder 2.0” after I took the assessment. I learned the majority of my strengths are strategic, and I am more idea than action orientated. The evaluation reinforced the results of my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Combining the information from the two has provided me with valuable insights that I have used to develop and take actions towards fulfilling my life’s purpose.

At this point, you probably have spent a couple of hours examining your personality traits. If you have done this in one sitting, I would advise taking a break and return to this process in a day or so. 

If you took some time away, welcome back. 

Now that we have a deeper understanding of our natural personality and strengths, let’s dive into your beliefs and motivations.

2nd – Define your passions and values

Having an understanding of our nature will guide us when taking action, but gaining insight into our values will give us direction. For this reason, this step is the most crucial and perhaps the most difficult in the process. So, let’s jump right in. 

First, grab your journal, a notebook, or a few pieces of paper and find a quiet and comfortable place where you can contemplate and write. Grab a cup of coffee or your favorite sipping drink. If you like to snack, grab it. We are going to be here for a while, so make sure you block off an hour or more to be free from distractions. 

Once you sit down, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, relax, and clear your mind. After you forget about all the other things you need to do today, open your eyes and begin by writing “passions” across the top of one of the pages. Now answer the following questions and make sure you take the time to think deeply about each. 

Passions

  1. What are your passions? List them down the side of the page and leave several lines between each. You will expand upon them in the next step. Consider the things that excite you and that you enjoy doing. They can be things such as writing, painting, taking care of people, traveling, woodworking, building houses, fixing cars, programming, photography, family, exercise, cooking, etc. Despite the limitless possibilities, make sure you only consider the things that genuinely excite you, and that you would do before anything else.  
  2. Next, write down the details of your passions. What exactly excites you about doing _______? As an example, if you are passionate about cooking, perhaps the smell and the texture of the ingredients, and knowing someone else is going to enjoy your meal gives you a sense of satisfaction like nothing else in the world. 
  3. After you finish, rank each with a number. Give the passion that excites you the most a one, and go from there. 
  4. Now on a separate page, answer the following questions.
    1. If you had no responsibilities, what would you do with your time? 
    2. What activities would you like to spend more time doing now? 
    3. Who inspires you, and why? 
    4. When were you the happiest in your life, what were you doing? 
    5. What were you doing when you felt the most pride in your life? 
    6. What were you doing when you felt the most satisfied? 

Values and Roles For your Life’s Purpose

After you complete this, take out a new sheet and write “Values” on the left side and “Roles” on the right side.

Under the values column, write down the values you feel identify you. Also, write down the values that you wish to have. You can use the following list to help you get started.

Abundance
Acceptance
Accountability
Accuracy
Achievement
Adventure
Advocacy
Altruism
Ambition
Appreciation
Assertiveness
Attractiveness
Autonomy
Balance
Being the Best
Belonging
Benevolence
Boldness
Brilliance
Calmness
Carefulness
Caring
Challenge
Charity
Cheerfulness
Clear-mindedness
Cleverness
Collaboration
Commitment
Community
Compassion
Competitiveness
Consistency
Contentment
Continuous Improvement
Contribution
Control
Cooperation
Correctness
Courtesy
Creativity
Credibility
Curiosity
Daring
Decisiveness
Dedication
Democraticness
Dependability
Determination
Devoutness
Diligence
Discipline
Discretion
Diversity
Dynamism
Economy
Effectiveness
Efficiency
Elegance
Empathy
Encouragement
Enjoyment
Enthusiasm
Equality
Ethics
Excellence
Excitement
Expertise
Exploration
Expressiveness
Fairness
Faith
Family
Fidelity
Fitness
Flexibility
Fluency
Focus
Freedom
Friendships
Fun
Generosity
Goodness
Grace
Growth
Happiness
Hard Work
Health
Helping Society
Holiness
Honesty
Honor
Humility
Humor
Inclusiveness
Independence
Individuality
Ingenuity
Innovation
Inquisitiveness
Insightfulness
Inspiration
Intelligence
Intuition
Joy
Justice
Kindness
Knowledge
Leadership
Learning
Legacy
Love
Loyalty
Mastery
Merit
Mindfulness
Obedience
Open-Mindedness
Optimism
Order
Originality
Passion
Patriotism
Peace
Perfection
Performance
Personal Development
Piety
Playfulness
Popularity
Positivity
Power
Practicality
Preparedness
Proactivity
Professionalism
Prudence
Punctuality
Quality
Recognition
Relationships
Reliability
Resilience
Resourcefulness
Responsiveness
Restraint
Results-oriented
Rigor
Risk-Taking
Safety
Security
Self-Control
Self-reliance
Selflessness
Sensitivity
Serenity
Service
Shrewdness
Simplicity
Soundness
Speed
Spirituality
Spontaneity
Stability
Strategic
Strength
Structure
Success
Support
Teamwork
Temperance
Thankfulness
Thoroughness
Thoughtfulness
Timeliness
Tolerance
Traditionalism
Trustworthiness
Truth-seeking
Understanding
Uniqueness
Unity
Usefulness
Versatility
Vision
Vitality
Warmth
Wealth
Well-Being
Wisdom
Zeal

And under the roles column, write down the roles you now perform and also would like to fulfill in the future. If there are roles you are currently fulfilling and do not wish to have, draw a line through them. A list of examples follows to help you get started.

Husband
Wife
Volunteer
Aunt
Uncle
Brother
Sister
Boyfriend
Girlfriend
Grandpa
Grandma
Firefighter
Volunteer
Deacon
Minister
Director of a Board
Leader
Manager
Athlete
Trainer
Parent
Son
Daughter
Computer Programmer
Actor
Athlete
Coach

Now for each column, prioritize your top five values and roles that you want to become or focus upon in the future.

After completing this step, you now have a comprehensive list of your passions and values. Let’s take a few moments to reflect upon what we just accomplished, but before doing so, let’s step away for a while and take a break. If you are like me, deep self-reflection can be exhausting, so take as much time as you need to clear your thoughts and refocus. Feel free to take an hour, a day, or a week to recharge before coming back to it. 

When you come back, we will reflect on what you have accomplished so far and star reflecting on developing our life’s purpose. 

3rd – Reflection and Life-Purpose Statement Development

Welcome back. Hopefully, you are restored and eager to get back into it. Our next step is not as challenging as the last one, so it will not be as exhaustive. While you are getting ready, grab your personality and strength assessments, your passion and values worksheets, and find a comfortable place to concentrate. Preferably, the same site as last time. 

Once you are ready, please take out your information and read it thoroughly, reflecting upon each piece. After studying the documents, write down any themes that start to form. You will begin to see topics like, “I am at my best in front of a crowd,” “I like to work with my hands,” or “I am passionate about helping others.” Write down everything that comes to mind while you are reflecting. 

As soon as you are complete, read through each statement. Notice how each declaration is building the base of your life’s purpose. 

Examples of My Statements

As an example, here are a few of my statements.

  • I get a sense of satisfaction when I build or fix something. 
  • Solving problems is when I am at my best.
  • I enjoy reading, learning, and contemplating possibilities.
  • I have genuinely come to appreciate the value of discipline and the joy it provides.
  • Being a contributor to a community is vital to me. 
  •  I like working on computers, designing processes, studying data, and messing around with programming.
  • I enjoy working out and playing sports
  • Creating something of value is very high on my list.

 From these statements, I crafted my initial life-purpose statement. It was “to build a successful business that provides employment, so my family can enjoy financial freedom, and we can contribute more to charity.” 

How My Life-Purpose Statement was Flawed

I would like to give you the impression that after developing this statement, I set off to accomplish it. The reality was, I was already in the middle of starting a business when I formed my statement. In other words, my actions drove my purpose instead of my purpose driving my actions. I created my statement to justify my actions, and it was flawed.

In part 1 of this series, “Life-Purpose: Defining Yours Is Important,” I stated, a life-purpose should not be internal to oneself. My initial purpose centered around a result that benefited me in the disguise of being for the community. I wanted to treat building a business the same as creating a piece of art. For Warren Buffet or Jeff Bezos, this may be true, but not for me. My intention was good, but my application was not. I did not want to build a business to serve a customer. I wanted an outcome, and that was my error. 

Once I identified this issue, I crafted a new purpose that is focused away from myself and results. 

A Warning For Your Life-Purpose Statement

I tell you this story so you can avoid making the same mistake. Make your life’s mission centered on behaviors that benefit more than yourself, and avoid making it about self-desired outcomes.

Now it is your turn. Take a few minutes to write out your life-purpose statement. Don’t worry if it does not immediately turn out perfect. You can edit and massage it when you feel you need to, but at least you will now have a compass to guide you into the future and provide your life with direction.

Wrapping Up

I hope you found this exercise useful. It mimics the significant steps that I took over several years to develop my life’s purpose. Many of these steps I took without realizing they were leading me towards a life’s direction. Likewise, I hope they do the same for you in a significantly less amount of time. 

Feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments, or if you like, share your statement, and we can discuss it. 

In the final part of the series, we will identify a process to help you find ways to put your life’s purpose into action.

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Let’s get real for a moment!

I am sick of hearing people telling me how much fitter I look and that they would like to get to the gym more, but they don’t have time. Are they saying their lives are busier than mine? Do they believe I don’t work, go to church, spend time running around to my daughters’ events, go grocery shopping, make dinner, mop the floors, do repairs, volunteer in the community? It’s like, in some mysterious way, I am free of the responsibilities of a middle-aged adulting and have an abundance of spare time.

If only they had the amount of free time I do, they could go to the gym and be fit! I wish it were so, but unfortunately, I am just as busy as everyone else.

What it boils down to are priorities!

I choose my health and my fitness, but I didn’t always.

Realizing Fitness Must Be a Priority

I was an athlete in high school, a drinker in college, and an obese, drinking, desk jockey afterward. I spent my twenties gaining over a hundred pounds. That’s right; I said 100lbs.

And, just in case you missed it, let me repeat it–OVER ONE HUNDRED POUNDS! Eating fast food and pizza, and drinking pops and beers, and getting no exercise. And when I say no exercise, I mean doing zero activity, unless you want to count walking to the couch as a workout.

Get it? That’s a lot. My weight ballooned to 280lbs, and I was FAT–OBESE! I am still big and carry too much fat, but there’s a lot more useful mass than there used to be. Why? Simple, I choose my health. I decide to go to the gym; it is a priority.

I had to make it a priority because one day, I climbed to the top of my stairs, and I was out of breath. Wheezing and light-headed, I thought I was going to have the big one–a heart attack. I only climbed one damn flight of stairs, and I was only 40 something, and here I was getting ready to go face-to-face with the Big Guy!

Struggling to get to the top of the stairs was not the only sign.

Walking around the city with my family, going to a Purdue game, or tossing a ball with my daughters, things I enjoy, became laborious. They were difficult! I was heading the wrong way on a two-way track, and I had to turn around before I hit the end. If not, I was going to get there way too soon.

Oh, I almost forgot. I can’t count the number of times my wife asked me if I was alright because I was breathing so hard and loud she thought I was in trouble. I didn’t even hear it.

Just so that you know, I am not ready to meet the Big Guy. I have too much life to live, too many things to do, too many people to spend time with, and too much fun to have not to prioritize my health.

So, I choose the gym, and so should you.

Finding Your Reason to Prioritize Fitness

Here’s the deal before we start, when you see me, don’t tell me you don’t have time. Tell me it is not a priority, and I will believe you. If your health is not a priority, no skin off my back. But, it probably should be a little of yours.

You should prioritize your health over most other things. After all, don’t you need your health to do those things?

Let’s explore a few reasons that might pique your interest. 

Faith

Before I dive in, I want you to know that I am not a theologian, so take what I say with a grain of salt. Also, I don’t care what faith you are or are not. 

What I describe in this section comes from my experience reading studying various religions, and I found they all seem to have common threads–discipline and community.

They all seem to support the idea of being a disciplined individual for the betterment of the community.

Now, barring some health, genetic, or related issues, things outside of our scope of control, obesity is a result of over-indulging and a lack of work to support the increased caloric consumption. In my opinion, neither over-indulging or being lethargic supports discipline, and they do not make a better community. 

So, faith is an excellent reason to prioritize fitness. As Mark Rippetoe says, Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.’ Being fit allows us to be better contributors to our community, and it takes discipline to be fit. 

Family

If you are not going to prioritize the gym for yourself, your family is an excellent reason to get into shape. It is one of my main reasons for spending time working out. Being fit allows me to be a better participant and contributor to my family. I am no longer worried about walking up the stairs, and I enjoy the time we spend walking or doing other activities so much more. And, I am not as cranky and irritable as I used to be. Raking leaves or shoveling snow are no longer epic endeavors. 

Yourself

Do it for yourself! In the end, fitness has to become a selfish endeavor. You have to want all of the opportunities being fit has to offer. If not, it is hard to get off the couch and get moving. But once you do, it becomes easy to understand why it must be a priority.

Diversions to Your Fitness

“Every force has an equal and opposite force,” so says Newton Third Law of Motion. For every reason you find to prioritize the gym, there will be just as many reasons to abandon your plans.

Let’s take a look at a few of the possible diversions. 

Work

If you work fulltime, your job may take up to twenty-five percent or more of your week. If you subtract sleep from your available time, it is closer to forty percent. We work a lot, and after a long day at the job, it is easy to see why we feel we do not have time to get to the gym.

Nevertheless, if you work a 50-hour week and if you are one of the lucky few who can sleep 8-hours a night, you still have 62 hours of your week to find time for the gym. 

Family

Other than faith, my family is my top priority, and I am sure it is for most people. Just like a lot of you, I try to make my daughters’ events and attend our families’ functions. I schedule part of the day to do some maintenance around the house. Along with this, I like to cook dinner, even though this doesn’t happen every day. It’s easy to put off going to the gym with all of these family responsibilities. They take a lot of time, or do they?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend roughly 32 hours a week on what I would consider family activities. If we deduct this from our 62 free hours, we still have 30 hours left in a week to go to the gym. Meeting our familial responsibilities is essential, and should be a top priority, but we cannot use it as an excuse not to go to the gym. 

Volunteering and Social Activities

First, I think supporting our communities by volunteering is a noble endeavor. However, I feel it’s not as high of a priority as our health. With that said, Americans do not spend much volunteering. On average, we volunteer around 1 hour a week. Enough said! 

Media Consumption (TV, Social-Media, etc.)

I saved the best for last.

Without a doubt, media consumption is the most devasting diversion to fitness. According to Statista and backed by several other sources, Americans spend ten plus hours a day consuming media, If we are up 16 to 18 hours a day, how can we work 8 hours, spend over 4 hours in household activities, and consume 10 hours of media? Simple, we are either consuming media during the times we are supposed to be working, or we spend an abundance of our non-working days watching tv or playing on our phones. Probably both!

So, if we are spending over 70 hours a week consuming media, can’t we go to the gym for an hour a day instead? I did. Getting away from the tv was how I started to prioritize my fitness. I began by walking on a treadmill for thirty minutes and my fitness journey escalated from there.

Reducing the number of hours spent consuming media is the best way to find the time to prioritize fitness.

Ways to Prioritize Fitness

I used the term “get to the gym” often in this article. What I mean is to perform physical work that will use your muscles and burn extra calories. You can accomplish this in a variety of ways.

Walking/Running

I started my journey by walking thirty minutes on a treadmill every night instead of watching TV. We purchased it years before, so I pulled it out of storage and set it up in a spare room and started walking. I felt the results immediately, and over time I adventured into strength training.

If you have a treadmill, a stationary bike, or some other form of cardio equipment, schedule a few minutes a day to utilize it. If not, use a better option and always available option, get outside and go for a walk or a run.

Calisthenics

Calisthenics, push-ups, pull-ups, air squats, burpees, etc.., are a great way to prioritize your fitness. They require minimal space and no equipment.

CrossFit®

CrossFit is a lifestyle that emphasis safe, effective exercise and healthy nutrition choices. You can use CrossFit programming to improve performance or lose weight. Often, a community develops around CrossFit, and you can practice it in garage gyms, outside, or at a standard CrossFit box under a certified CrossFit coach.

Many of our daily workouts are programmed similar to this style.

Wrapping Up

 As you can see, “not having enough time” is saying, “I do not prioritize fitness,” because as we have demonstrated, there are plenty of hours in the week to get prioritize fitness. It only takes a choice. Instead of consuming media, do thirty minutes of calisthenics, and you will be on your way to becoming fitter. 

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Having a life purpose provides you with direction. Without one, you may feel lost. 

Have you ever had a feeling of being lost as you wondered through your day? You wake up, get dressed, make breakfast, and walk out the door to go to work. The day starts the same as any other, and it goes nowhere different fast!

At work, you mindlessly complete your tasks before going home to eat dinner, watch tv, and fall asleep so that you can do it all again the next day. Does the same pattern repeat itself over and over again?

Did you consciously choose this life? Probably not. More than likely, it grabbed you and hasn’t let go. And I wouldn’t be surprised if you are wondering how to escape. 

Well, you do not need to escape. You only need to give your life a direction, and it is as simple as defining your life’s purpose. 

What is a Life Purpose

The definition of a life purpose is fairly obvious. The term is self-defining. It simply means having a purpose for your life. What is difficult, though, because of life’s tendency to pull us in several directions, is defining your purpose and using it as the ultimate compass for every action you take or every decision you make. It is best to set your intention early and make it as secure as possible, so life cannot grab you and pull you in opposing directions.

If you are in your late teens or your early twenties, start defining your purpose now. Think of it like compound interest. The earlier you invest, the longer the investment has to work to grow your principle. It is the same for your life purpose. The earlier you begin working towards it, the more you can accomplish. 

But don’t let age hold you back. If you are older, like I am, defining a life purpose can bring meaning and greater enjoyment to your life. 

Now, let’s take a closer look at what we mean by life purpose. 

Characteristics of a Strong Life Purpose

For a life purpose to provide enough meaning to change the direction of your life and give you joy and fulfillment, it must be strong enough to make a difference. It cannot be internal to yourself, such as looking a certain way, weighing so much, or becoming wealthy, though Warren Buffet may disagree. It should be beyond yourself, such as an art, or helping others, or changing the world for the better.

By its nature, it will not be a short-term goal, such as working at the food pantry once a month for a year. Even though it will define short-term goals, it has to be lengthier and more extensive in scope than any short-term objective. It may never come to an end, such as feeding all hungry people in the world or providing clean drinking water to everyone. 

And, it must be meaningful to you. Someone else cannot define it for you. You have to determine it, own it, and be committed to it. It must be yours. 

Let’s take a look at a few examples. 

Examples

“… is to create an online voice for autism to educate parents, teachers, and patients about the latest developments and coping strategies.”

“… build awesome custom bikes that win mountain bike and speed competitions.”

“… design and build beautiful wood desks, elegant computer cabinets, and amazing dining tables.”

“Support what respects & enhances freedom.” -Nelson Mandela

“Allow humanity to propagate into the future by using better sources of energy.” — Elon Musk

“Fight cancer so that others won’t have to suffer from it.” — Terry Fox

“Make people reach their full potential, regardless of their past.” –Dr. Eric Thomas

As you can see, each of these statements defines a life purpose that is greater than the person, focused on a skill or a cause, and they are long-term endeavors. They guide each through the coarse of their life and give them a reason to wake up every morning and get busy.

So, if you feel you are being led instead of leading your life, define a life purpose, and get busy. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect. You can adjust it over time. I know I have. 

If you are ready to create a life purpose statement, I outline a process to assist you in the second article of this series, Life Purpose: How to Define Yours.

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Goal Setting, sometimes I wonder if it is an exercise in futility.

At the end of last year, I sat down and formulated seven specific goals. They ranged from spiritual goals–pray a decade of the Rosary every morning–to a host of fitness goals. I categorized them into two groups, habit or achievement. I even went as far as to write the critical motivations, the next steps to take, and the rewards for achieving them. They were very SMART, and I was even smarter for working so diligently on them. I planned them so well. I had no concern about achieving them, so I got a head start and went to work two days early.

Each morning, I read a brief description of each and studied all of them in detail once a week. I scheduled blocks of time to work on them. And, I set out intently to make this the year I accomplished all of my goals.

Why I didn’t meet my Goals

Well, that did not last long, and for some unknown reason, I lost interest. By the middle of March, I stopped focusing on the list. I was back to the daily grind. The day-to-day humdrum caught me, and I was living life without a compass. My goals were placed on hold while I was off working on other things, such as a vacation. 

Getting pulled in different directions is not the only reason why I stopped actively pursuing my goals. Frustration was another. I wanted to hit specific numbers on the back squat, front squat, press, deadlift, and clean-and-jerk. I developed a program that would get me to those numbers by a particular date. When the week arrived to attempt my lifts, I failed to make any of my goals. I felt this let down mentally and physically. My joints ached, and I was worn down from all the heavy lifting. I stopped short of the goals. Burned out on powering lifting and ready to pursue other activities, I moved on without hitting the numbers I wanted. 

Accidentally Meeting Goals Through Regular Activity

If you know anything about lifting, you know recovery is the most crucial part of getting stronger. I am sure I was not allowing myself enough recovery time to make the gains I was expecting from the program. I do not like to take down days, so I was mixing in CrossFit style workouts in with the powerlifting, and seldom taking more than one day off a week. The need for recovery was no more apparent than what took place and the beginning of Fall.

Amazingly, and after not explicitly training for these movements, I met my front squat and clean-and-jerk goals. I got stronger without pushing my self to the breaking point. Recovery is essential, and by staying active, my overall strength increased, allowing me to meet a couple of my fitness goals.

Surprisingly, fitness goals were not the only ones I accidentally met. I will have read my sixth book by the end of the year and will come close to the number of hours I wanted to work on a specific project. Neither of these received my attention after March.

How is this possible?

I have never really been great at goal setting or achievement. Hiistorically, I have fallen short of the goals I set, or I flat out lose motivation to achieve them. I have placed too much emphasis on achievement-oriented goals that have many variables that are outside of my control. They are the type of goals that I can work and work towards, but if everything does not align correctly, I will not make them no matter how much effort I put towards them. 

Perhaps, what I have learned after reviewing this year’s goals is that it is more beneficial to place less emphasis on the desired result, and more focus on the work that will produce the result as a side-effect. In other words, want the action and let the consequences be what they are. 

Presumably, this is how I met some of the goals I set for this year because I sure didn’t focus on them after March. 

Future Goal Setting

This year went fast, and I am sure the next will be just as quick. I don’t feel goal setting in such detail was a futile exercise, so I believe I will carry out the same format for next year. For improvement, I won’t put so much emphasis on acheivement-oriented goals, and I want to reduce the number of goals to improve focus. Prioritizing has always been challenging for me. Restricting the total number of goals should help keep me on track. 

How do you set your goals? What are some of them? What are the challenges you face when trying to accomplish them?