Here we are at the end of 2020. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve just come out of a clothing dryer that’s been on tumble dry since about March 16th.
I’m not saying it was all bad . . . there were certainly some silver linings (as I discussed in this podcast). But, it was challenging. For me personally, it was more of a mental challenge for numerous reasons. What helped me was this simple thought: If you can’t do what you do, do what you can.
With this notion in mind, I returned to Chapter 2 in my book, Teach4Endurance: Surviving the Swim, Bike and Run in Today's Classroom. I honestly go back to my book often. That’s what I created it and its correlating workouts for. When I need to sharpen some metaphorical edges in life, I find the chapter that helps me out. Trust me, 2020 has had me return to this notion of purpose often.
This particular chapter reminds me of the new Pixar movie, Soul. One key thematic element in this movie is to “find your spark.” What is it that lights your fire, so to speak. Without a clear purpose (or spark) we can certainly go through the motions of life, but I’d argue that we are not truly living to our fullest potential. Without a purpose (or spark), it’s like you are shooting an arrow at a blank target. What is it that you want? What do you truly desire?
If you're up to it, I’m going to challenge you to attempt the three correlating workouts regarding purpose. Remember, the workouts increase in challenge based on its correlating triathlon race length.
Sprint (easiest): Have a Motive
Half-Distance - Half Ironman (challenging): Identify Your Strengths
Full-Distance - Ironman (really challenging): Operation Activate
Week 1: (Have a Motive)
Motivation comes from answering “why.” When developing your purpose, make sure to be completely honest with yourself. Try asking yourself “Why am I (a parent, teacher, friend, accountant, athlete, musician, student, etc.)?
If this is hard for you, try asking yourself some simple questions.
Why am I (a student, athlete, mother, father, etc.) or Why did I become (a parent, lawyer, engineer, teacher, etc.)?
What is my true aspiration?
How can I go about reaching my true aspiration?
When you have discovered what you believe to be your purpose, write it down somewhere where you can revisit it when taking on your next workout.
Week 2: (Identify Your Strengths)
When you have hopefully discovered your purpose or your “why,” it’s time to build upon this. Don’t just let it sit on a piece of paper gathering dust. Let’s get to work! Now ask yourself “what” will help you achieve your “why” or your desired aspiration. Try jotting down your answers to the questions below:
What do I do well?
What do I enjoy participating in?
What am I an expert at?
What are my strongest character traits?
By exploring your personal interests and strengths, the chances of reaching your purpose/aspiration are greatly improved.
Week 3: (Operation Activate)
Sharing or including your character trait strengths in correlation with reaching your purpose/aspiration is key. For example, if one of your chosen traits is “patience,” how can this help in reaching your goal? Use this trait as you move forward. The key is to connect your strengths in conjunction with what you’re attempting to achieve.
Keep in mind that this workout may not be a quick turn around. It’s going to take plenty of work, possibly some failure, and loads of determination to see it through. This is why it’s the hardest workout!
Let’s use me as an example to see how this all plays out.
Have a Motive: At this point in my life, one of my main aspirations is to help as many people as I can within the field of education. This is my target.
Identify Your Strengths: Some strengths that have helped me in reaching this goal include creativity, public speaking, motivating, battle-tested, 25 years in education and coaching, etc.
Operation Activate: When connecting my strengths to my aspiration, I have been able to . . .
-write a book
-go around the country presenting to educators to help them endure the challenges of the profession
-helped many people find their smile and spark again
So, as we begin 2021, let’s all become crystal clear on what we truly want to achieve. Once this clarity is discovered, go after it. We get one shot at this life . . . let’s make it the one we truly want. Remember . . . the light at the end of the tunnel may be you!