Have you ever stopped to think truly about your purpose in life? Why are you doing the things you are doing? What gets you up in the morning? If you haven’t tried to define it, you likely feel lost or struggle with consistently being motivated. I hope that by the end of this blog, you too will feel motivated to find yours.
As of late, I’ve been exploring meditation and the mental aspects of performance in
running and in life. It started with reading my new friend’s book, How Bad Do You Want It by Matt Fitzgerald. I read this book leading into my fall marathon, while I was in the best shape of my life. Unfortunately, an injury didn’t allow me to use these new techniques, I continued to ponder them.
I was longing to read another book and continue with my “growth mindset” but with a busy schedule wasn’t sure where I could fit this is. Audiobooks! Ding! The alarm went off in my head, “audiobooks, yeah, perfect,” I thought. “I can read while running my easy mileage and likely absorb the material better anyways since I am exercising and fully engaged.” My very first listen, would turn out to be the best possible choice. Peak Performance by Steve Magness and Brad Stulberg, is a book about achieving peak performance and avoiding burnout not only in athletics, but in all aspects of life. I’d highly recommend this read; they analyze ideas and back them with proven scientific study but yet are able to keep it interesting with real world examples reaching across many domains. This post is inspired by them. I’ve only decided to talk about the very last chapter here but there are so many other things I learned including sleep, controlling stress, optimizing recovery and many more things. I will likely talk about these things in future post.
Have you ever seen the iceberg metaphor? Where performance is the tip of the iceberg and the only part you see, yet there are layers of hard work beneath the surface… I believe this is the perfect description for the anatomy of life’s purpose. Most people may
look at my goals and think of the superficial reasons that I get up every day and push myself to run – I want to get faster. This might be the end result of my endeavours, it is NOT the reason why I get up every day and push myself.
Below the surface, there are deeper more meaningful connections to my drive and passion.
DEVELOP YOUR PURPOSE
To start the process of developing your PURPOSE, Magness suggests picking 3 core values that are central to you. That is, what are the most important things to you: family, hard-work, commitment, being on time, dedication, education, helping others, compassion, and expertise, to name a few.
For myself, I have always operated on the core values of hard-work, dedication, and perseverance. These things ring true in all aspects of my life, how I approach school, work, athletics, and even relationships. Now I was lucky enough the have a great dad
who was my role-model growing up who showed me that you can achieve anything if you want it bad enough and work hard. As a child, you could find me 20minutes after class still practicing my cartwheels on the beam after falling over-and-over again just to try to achieve the set number of “stuck” ones.
WRITE A PURPOSE STATEMENT
Now moving through the exercise as laid out by Peak Performance, take these core values and write a purpose statement. This should take about 10-15 minutes. Now interestingly enough, if your purpose is self-oriented that is fine, but you are more likely to get the most out of yourself and to achieve greater things is your purpose involves others. Just look at Meb Keflezighi and his historic win in the Boston Marathon. He wanted to win that race not for himself, but rather for the people of Boston and more importantly those who lost their lives in the bombing of 2013. By bringing the purpose outside of his own self-centered needs, he was able to achieve one of the greatest feats in life. Now your purpose doesn’t have to be as grandiose to still make it meaningful. Think of the people who you care most about in life – friends, family, and training partners. Even if you are unaware, your efforts matter to at least one person whether it be you inspiring them or even the pride they feel in your performance. Performance may be running related but of course doesn’t have to be, what about your performance in your career? the way you raise your family? the kind of person you are? All of these things can be the backbone to your purpose, after all, it is YOUR purpose completely individual to YOU.
MY PURPOSE STATEMENT
Now for me my PURPOSE STATEMENT if I really think about why I do the things I do in all aspects of life is:
“To inspire others and show them that you don’t have to be the most “gifted” to achieve great things, rather, if you work hard, push-yourself and show dedication you can achieve anything you want.”
Now this becomes more specific to each area of life I apply it to:
- career – becoming the best kinesiologist by learning as much as I can and inspiring gym goers to reach for their goals and push them to be the best they can be
- running – run more mileage, push myself harder in work-outs, do the little things so that on race day I can push-myself to be even faster; show others, through this blog, what I have learned and how I go about doing things to help inspire others
- life – don’t sit back and just watch tv all day, go out and do the things I need to in order to build the life I want and go the places I want. Experience the things I want to and enjoy each day instead of waiting for the weekend to arrive.
Again and again I have been rewarded for staying true to myself. In the book Peak Performance, the authors explain that the closer we live each day to our purpose, the happier we are.
WHY PURPOSE IS SO IMPORTANT TO ME
I’ve never been naturally “gifted” where I was instantly the best at something. In elementary school, I did not do well up until grade 6. Then from there I realized if I studied and worked hard I could be the “smartest.” This lead me to valedictorian in grade 8, top marks in high-school, and second in my class in my B.H.K. degree. In gymnastics I was not the best. I was chosen for the competitive team since I was strong and worked hard. I didn’t learn new skills very quickly, but I worked hard and fell over and over until I was able to stick those landings. Now in running, I wanted to win so badly, but thus I was not the fastest. In high-school, my coaches inspired me to work even hard and I will see results, it might not be right away but someday. I was thoroughly disappointed in university when I performed worse then ever. But I told myself, I would not give up and keep working hard. I changed my focus to running longer distances and here we are today.
THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF ALL
I have trained with and competed against SO many people that decided to give up the thing they love (running) because they no longer were finding joy in it. I think the problem is, they forgot to look past the tip of the iceberg. They are so entranced in the surface goal of getting faster that they forgot why they run in the first place, to push themselves to be better and get the most out of themselves each day. It is so important to reflect on the WHYs instead of focusing the daily tasks themselves especially when they become monotonous. I believe that this is why we a lot of runners have “off” seasons where nothing seems to go right, because they are focusing on the wrong thing.
I hope that by writing this blog, I’ve inspired others to think about their purpose in life and are reminded to reflect on it daily. Steve & Brad suggest putting this on a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, and in places where you often struggle with motivation in a place you will see. I hope that by defining your purpose, you will see more happiness and success in your endeavours and not only develop yourself as an athlete but as a person.
Until next time, GRIND ON
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