Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Define Your Purpose

I had the pleasure of attending the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) 2012 Conference held in Denver, Colorado this past year. It was a great conference, but one seminar in particular held my attention.

In his seminar, The Achievement Addiction, Dr. Jim Loehr, performance psychologist and co-founder of the Human Performance Institute, talked about why there are many people who have a long list of impressive accomplishments yet fail to feel fulfilled.

He used the example of a world-famous tennis star, who was also one of his clients. From the outside looking in, it looked as if this star had all the fixings of the perfect life. However, people who knew him noticed that he had become angry, unhappy, and difficult to work with, which is why he needed help. He had started to actually hate tennis, the sport that had propelled him to be the ultimate sports star who was raking in millions of dollars per year. The problem was that he hadn’t defined his purpose and was instead putting his energy toward a path different from what he really wanted.

After defining his purpose he decided that he wanted to repurpose tennis to help kids be happier and healthier and started charter schools. The anger and unhappiness lifted once he started to work toward his purpose.

These days, people are succeeding, setting records, and producing great results. Now more than ever, stress, depression, and anxiety threaten to take over our lives. It’s as if achieving has become a goal in itself, which we keep chasing, without ever fully reaching the goal.

By no means are these researchers advocating sitting on our butts and having no ambitions. They propose that we first define our purpose. Then we can go after the successes we seek. Take a truly honest look at yourself and your accomplishments. Do you know your purpose? Are your accomplishments aligned with your purpose? If not, here are some steps that may help you.

  • Brainstorm talents and skills that you have. Ask yourself “What do I enjoy doing? What am I good at doing? What will people pay me to do?” Once you have an answer that fits into all 3 questions, pursue it.
  • Define your mission in life and write it down. What do you want people to remember you for?
  • Define your values that you will adhere to while you work toward your mission.
  • Create short-term and long-term goals that tie to your mission.
  • Put together a plan and place it where you can see it.
  • Tell someone about your plan and have that person help hold you accountable.
  • Take action.

Sheila is a Human Resources / Training Consultant and Career Coach who guides organizations and people in setting and reaching their goals and achieving their definition of success.  She has worked with Fortune 500 companies, medium sized, and small companies including Target, Apollo Group, University of Phoenix, Corporate Psychologists, Knight Transportation and Auckland Museum.
Sheila received her Master’s degree in Human Resources from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and her Bachelor’s degree from Boston University.  Sheila runs her own consulting company MyLeadership Solution LLC and can be contacted at

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