One of the most often asked questions by humanity is the ultimate question, why am I here? Considering that nobody handed us a manual nor any sort of instructions about why we are here I guess it is left up to us to decide.
P90 X fitness guru Tony Horton thinks that your purpose to life probably has something to do with having a better life (Horton 12). Unfortunately, for many of us that purpose has to do with money, reputation or material stuff. Two of those things go away immediately when you die. Your reputation does stick around, at least for a little while.
No matter what you do however there is no doubt that taking care of yourself physically can help you accomplish nearly any purpose. Horton cites a study out of Brigham Young that shows people with poor diets suffered a 66% loss of productivity and people who did not exercise regularly lost 50% of their productivity. Granted, I flunked math a few times (not joking), but if we added those up in combined a poor diet with not working out with that puts you at -10% productivity? Okay maybe not, but now you’re beginning to see why flunked math.
Whenever I counsel someone in helping them get a job or with any problem in their life one of the first things I told them to do is to start walking. Walking is a incredibly simple form of exercise that most of us can do. And if you’re in a wheelchair I would of course not tell you to start walking, I don’t have those sort of supernatural powers, but I would tell you to start doing whatever physical activity you are capable of doing. Working out is a force multiplier. It gives you your first victory of the day, hones your mental acuity and makes you feel better emotionally.
Tony Horton says this purpose is to help other people find their purpose (Horton 25). Personally, it took a long time for me to realize this my purpose is to figure out how to make everyone else’s life better. What’s yours? You can take some clues by what you want to in your life thus far. For me, I was always drawn to things where I could help people so eventually I got the clue that that was my purpose.
Once you figure out the purpose now you need a plan. Start with the simple things like committing to 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, and cut back on the caffeine, alcohol and sugar (Horton 34). I’m not saying you need to go cold turkey just cut back a little bit.
Horton recommends that if you know where you want to be but can’t figure out how to get there start with the goal and work backwards (Horton 34). We call this “knowing your outcome.” Once you know what you want you can start figuring out the things you need to do to get you there. Then, make some mini goals and then make a schedule. Give yourself measurable benchmarks towards the goal. No matter what the goal there are always measurable benchmarks.
Take being an actor for example. Most actors cannot control whether they will get a part or not, unless their last name is Cruise, Bullock, Travolta or Schwarzenegger. But they might have more control over how many auditions they go to. That can be a measurable goal. If they don’t have control over how many auditions are available, they can control the amount of time they spend looking for available auditions.
Like I tell my pilot students, they cannot control when they will get hired by a major airline. But they do have some control over how many hours per week they can fly, or when they will have enough ratings and FAA certificates to be in a position to get hired. They may have to adjust these goals based on their finances and based on the curveballs life always throws and unforeseen obstacles that tend to pop up, but at least they are going after something measurable, and they can also get little victories along the way.
Some creative’s may not like plans. Or in some cases you might enjoy planning but you don’t want to plan out everything. In that case just create an objective and give yourself some repeatable daily actions and eventually you will get there (Horton 42).
Whenever we set out to do anything where we need to do repetitive steps, it can get boring. Horton’s prescription here is that no matter what you’re going after make sure it includes variety, consistency and intensity.
“In fact, you can apply them to any career goal, relationship, project or any other purpose in your life.” (Horton 45). “Athletes move faster, push harder and jump higher because they constantly challenge themselves in different, unique and innovative ways.” (Horton 47).
Horton definitely adds plenty of variety and intensity to his workout programs. That’s one of the reasons they are so popular. Even though I’ve done these workouts literally hundreds of times, I can always add a little variety to them, and I can always increase the intensity in various ways. I watch movies when I work out (I’ve got the P90x routines all memorized now), and when I cycle I listen to books on tape (a lot Nelson DeMille I might add). This also gives me variety and helps me look forward to the experience.
Even in my writing projects where sometimes I am writing for the 50th time about the same topic, I look for different ways to approach the subject, by adding new facts or attempting to bring in different metaphors and stories to make the writing more interesting.
How do you know when it’s time to try something new? When it’s not working anymore. Usually, we know when that is we just refuse to admit to ourselves because most people don’t like change.
“Curiosity is a key reason I’ve been able to sustain a high level of fitness all these years,” Horton (52). “Too many people hold onto tightly the strategies, thoughts, or activities that don’t work for them anymore… If your phone stopped working would you stop calling people?” Of course you wouldn’t you would find another way to get in touch or get a new phone (52).
What is no longer working in your life? What activity, belief, process, habit or thought do you need to purge? Maybe it was working at one point in your life but now it’s time to let it go. Say thank you and be done with it. What new belief could you adopt? What new activities could you engage in to get you closer to your outcome?
It’s time to get out of your comfort zone. And me too. For the longest time I generally avoided human contact whenever possible. I just didn’t want to get involved. But I’ve found as I embrace more and more of these situations particularly from a point of curiosity I’m not only expanding my network incredibly, I am opening myself up to a new world which is giving me all sorts of ideas. These ideas are finding their way into my writing, my teaching and my life in all sorts of wonderful ways.
As I said earlier, my purpose is to make your life better. And by finding my purpose, I’m making my own life better as well.
Horton, Tony. The Big Picture: 11 Laws That Will Change Your Life. New York: Harper Wave, 2014. Print.