Your values and actions reveal your purpose

Are you trying to make decisions about what to do with your life, or even what to do with your free time? If you’re like me, you want to spend your time--work or leisure--on things that engage your intelligence, your values, or your body, and improve you in some way. If you’re inspired to define your purpose in life, here’s how I thought about that during my coach-training course.

“What is my life’s purpose?” can seem profound and hard to answer.

But it’s not really set in stone or buried in a mysterious location. Keep it light when you’re questing for “what to do.” To think about my purpose and career, I asked myself two questions:

  • Where do I look to find my purpose?

  • How do purpose and career fit together?

To discover my purpose, I looked to my values and to my valued activities.

Our values are shown by the activities of our daily life and in the ways we interact. If you look at your day, and think about the most compelling things you did -- especially things that involve other people -- you can pinpoint your values.

I’d spent some time recently thinking about values, so I found it easy to make a list. My core values are: integrity, humility, optimism, learning, and proactiveness in health and strength.

Next I had to list my favorite daily activities, to see if the two lists lined up; did my activities and interactions validate what I thought my values were?

I defined my high-value activities as: (1) what I really like to do (2) that involves other people and (3) makes me proud of myself at the end of the day. These things are:

  • I work to be faithful and loving to my spouse, and to be loving and supportive to my friends.

  • I make people in my fitness classes laugh and feel comfortable. I connect with everyone in class and help them connect to each other.

  • I’ve been able to lead people to develop exciting capabilities that seemed out of reach, and to discover their unknown potential. (This takes place in the gym and in life coaching.)

  • I try every day to inspire my gym trainees to make me proud (because this means I’m leading them and helping them challenge themselves), while also making it clear that we are peers even though I happen to be the leader in that particular setting.

My purpose, as shown by my values and by my high-value activities, is to use affection, humor, and subject-expertise to help people find their unique ways of feeling empowered and a sense of achievement.

What’s your purpose? Does your career fit? You always have it within your power to find opportunities in your career to work according to your purpose. Coaching can help.