Research Paper By Dane Sacree
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
The exploration of purpose in this life has taken many forms. From wandering about Gods and the stars to the understanding of who we are. Yet, the complexity of purpose takes many roles in many people’s lives. What if the narrative of purpose shifted? What happens if the understanding of how purpose enters our lives does not rely on deep meditation within the wanders of the Himalayas? What happens if we described the notion of purpose differently? This research paper attempts to highlight where the discussion of purpose currently is to enhance our understanding, hoping to create a new way forward for the purpose to be found.
Why study purpose?
For the exploration of purpose moving forward, a definition is needed. The purpose has multiple definitions in a variety of fields. A simple description of purpose is “the reason for which something exists or is done, made or used” (dictionary.com, 2020). However, for this paper, a more thorough description is needed. More accurately, purpose in coaching can be defined as “the central motivating aims of your life” (University of Minnesota, 2020). This definition encompasses all aspects that purpose in coaching would connect to. Further, it can be broken down into simpler terms, highlighting “why that person gets up in the morning,” which is similar to the dictionary.com definition. This definition will help guide why the conversation of purpose needs to shift.
Before moving forward, why would we explore purpose? Why, as a coach, am I taking the time to learn about where the purpose is and how I can move it forward? Well, the purpose has numerous benefits. Firstly, the purpose is good for your health. It has been associated with a reduced risk for all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events (Cohen, Bavishi, Rozanski, 2016), increased quality of life (Cohen, McKnight &Kashdan, 2009), prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, and better ability to handle the pain (University of Minnesota, 2020). Further, a life purpose leads to better relationships and promotes resilience (University of Minnesota, 2020). The benefits of life purpose are incredible, with only a few mentioned here. Thus, it highlights how valuable discussing purpose is.
How is the purpose currently used in coaching?
To begin moving purpose forward, awareness needs to be created around where the purpose is currently. When describing the purpose, one naturally tends to think about what they have to do in this life: The thing they were born to do, that they were created to do and that their world needs to consist of. When entertaining this description, fate decides for them. Who they are, their experiences, and life have only added to a predetermined purpose that they have to follow. Imagine if Superman was destined to be evil irrelevant of how much he wanted to be fair, his choice taken away, and the world destroyed. Purpose, in this view, has a notion of no choice but instead noting what you are given. This, in its purest form, eliminates what coaches stand for. It takes away choice. It takes away from the person being able to decide their fate, choose their future, and become more than what is selected for them. This is one side of how purpose is viewed and relevant to how purpose has been described. There are examples of people choosing purpose in their current work, and they differ from those searching for a life purpose based on the definition given earlier.
In coaching, this is taken further by exploring multiple facets of a person to distinguish what is given to them. We provide value tests, comprehensive strengths finders, goal creation, and environmental factors to discover what direction the person should be moving towards. We take it a step further and use this as evidence for what our purpose is. You are good at these things, accomplished this in the past, consist of these values and strengths – naturally, this is your purpose. However, it makes sense; we have built a persons’ future, a persons’ central motivating aim based on factors strung together that encourage the conversation of “obviously this is the purpose that was given to me, and now I have found it. So, I am good!” Now, this is an effective method and has grounds for valid truth. It uses evidence to support an outcome that is currently true. However, as coaches, people do not come to us with their current situation to stay in it. They want to move, grow, create, and if our conversation around their purpose is driven by who they currently are and what they have done in their life, we are already hindering the development they may achieve. We are unconsciously putting on blocks to the possibilities of their purpose. This is where we need to step up and move forward. This is where a shift in purpose needs to happen. What would the possibilities of purpose look like where creation meets evidence? Where a person chooses their future and is supported by the evidence. Just as a person decides their goals and ensures their values support them, let’s create a purpose and use their strengths to make it more real.
Purpose moving forward
Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser from “A Christmas Carol,” written by Charles Dickens, is a beautiful metaphor for how purpose has been explored in coaching. Scrooge was a greedy, evil man who was despised by those who knew him. His primary focus and purpose in life were to make and save as much money as possible, and he was very good at it. In coaching, he used his values, strengths, and goals to create a future. He, in his mind, was successful. However, after one night visited by his ex-business partner and seeing his past, present, and future, he was compelled to change. He instinctively turned personalities to one that people did not know and even question if it was the same person. His purpose shifted. This story highlights how important it is first to explore facets of a person’s life and create that shift before building a purpose with someone. This story highlights the value of not just jumping into creating someone’s purpose but exploring multiple realms in the creation of what they want to be known for. This exploration reduces the reliance on who you are and creates an ability to be anyone you want. This subtle shift in perspective opens the conversation to more design of one’s life rather than acceptance of factors given to you from birth and through experience. The person’s power is returned, the choice is returned, and coaching possibilities are endless. How tremendous a shift in priority is for the use of purpose.
How to help people find their purpose as coaches
As a coach, our job is to help identify, clarify, and create the life a person is seeking. This can be achieved through a variety of ways, but the basics underlie all of our actions. For the creation of an individuals’ purpose, numerous methods can be used. However, as described before, a person’s discovery must be completed to ensure they are aware of their limitations and create a purpose from a new perspective. A more empowering, complete perspective not shackled by past beliefs, actions, and environment. By knowing where the person is, a groundwork for future movement is created. The person knows where they are jumping from, where they are stepping from, or where they are standing. The realization of where you are often provided a catalyst to get you to where you want to go. It is an exciting experience but very daunting, so it needs to be handled with care to ensure positivity instead of an adverse reaction.
To effectively help find a purpose, multiple approaches can be used. Firstly, a helpful tool in the discovery of purpose is through a person’s passions. A person can have multiple passions that help guide their purpose. Usually, a person is using their passion as a way to fill their purpose without knowing. In the discussion to determine a person’s purpose, a look at their passions can be exciting enlightenment into what purpose they have already been searching for. The discussion of passion also opens up the door to discovering ways to use their passion to demonstrate their purpose in life while providing fluidity in how to do it if the person wants to change.
A second technique used is feedback. Through feedback, insight can be created that provides a more in-depth analysis of how others see the individual and their actions. Through these observations, patterns can be found which provide deep value to how we naturally create our purpose. This technique strengthened with the future choice can be very impactful in creating a person’s purpose.
A third technique uses the person’s experience, injustice, and pain and turns it into a purpose to ensure that their experience does not happen for anyone else in the world. This can be a useful technique as it naturally has a solid emotional core, which will push in moments where it can feel not easy to choose. This personal connection to the past, the value and lessons it taught the person all are incredible insights into what that persons’ purpose is in the world.
Finally, if a person is genuinely struggling to know their purpose and the techniques previously mentioned do not provide insight, the exciting journey of creating the purpose has begun. This is where you work with the client to learn about what drives them, how it drives them, and what they want to see changed most globally. Through exploration and creation, a purpose is chosen instead of one given, which is empowering. Through the person’s choice, the purpose is given its meaning, and therefore intend to keep choosing the purpose provides a life lead by a purpose just as if they had discovered it through other techniques. It is exciting to note the power of choice given to purpose rather than the bestowment of one purpose you need to find.
A person’s purpose can be discovered or created through the techniques provided above. The coach must choose a method that would be most applicable to the person and give the most significant exploration of themselves, their future, and their choices into a life they create.
The purpose is a powerful motivator, creator, and inspiration for so many people wishing to obtain it. Interestingly, purpose can be created and found for all to reap its benefits. Life coaching has a special place in the world to provide the service for their clients to enjoy the rewards that purpose delivers and the changes it can bring to a person’s life through design, thought, and motivation. I am excited to see how purpose can change the world.
Cohen, R., Bavishi, C., & Rozanski, A. (2016). Purpose in life and its relationship to all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events: A meta-analysis. Psychosomatic Medicine, 78(2), 122-133.
Dictionary.com (2020). Purpose. Retrieved from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/purpose
McKnight, P., & Kashdan, T. (2009). Purpose in life as a system that creates and sustains health and well-being: an integrative, testable theory. Review of General Psychology, 13(3).
University of Minnesota (2020). What is life’s purpose? Taking Charge of your Health & Wellbeing, retrieved from https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-life-purpose
University of Minnesota (2020). Why is life’s purpose important? Taking Charge of your Health & Wellbeing, retrieved from https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/why-life-purpose-i important