Figuring out Your Passion and Purpose
One of our Elite Ambassadors, Ian Deeth, will run his debut marathon in the Gold Coast, Queensland on 2 July.
In his first blog post, Ian discussed his journey from ‘sprinter’, a discipline to which he was more naturally suited, to taking on endurance events, which were outside his comfort zone. He felt the key to unlocking his potential was a shift towards a growth mindset, in which you believe improvement is possible regardless of your innate abilities.
In this second post, Ian shares some of his thoughts about being passionate about what you do and having a purpose beyond your immediate goals. He believes that passion and purpose are important precursors to deciding on future objectives.
In this post, I initially planned to focus on goal-setting, but instead, I want to address two areas that I think are crucial foundations. The first is choosing a challenge that is linked to your passions, and the second is ensuring that your goal-setting journey aligns with your infinite purpose. What is an “infinite purpose”? Read on!
If you have found your way to reading this post, the chances are that, like me, you love running. For me, a passion is something you look forward to, enjoy in the moment, and then, after you finish, can’t wait to do again. Running absolutely ticks all three of these boxes for me (although the enjoyment ‘in the moment’ is sometimes a kernel of pleasure inside a world of pain!).
When you have a passion, the motivation to train, push yourself and work through the tough times becomes that much easier. Conversely, if you have to force yourself to get out the door or you find yourself prioritising other things, such as watching TV, in favour of running, maybe you haven’t found the right type of running event or exercise for you. If you find yourself struggling to find the motivation to get out for regular runs, you might think about exploring a range of different events to find out what ‘lights a fire’ of excitement for you.
So, what is ‘infinite purpose’? I first became aware of the infinite purpose perspective through an interview with entrepreneur Susie Ma on the High Performance Podcast. She describes it as “looking at the bigger picture of what we want to achieve in our lives.” Setting a race goal (such as running a sub 3-hour marathon) may give you short-term motivation. And maybe short-term happiness if that goal is reached. But then what next? For example, my infinite purpose of living an active and healthy lifestyle means striving for continuous good health. This broader goal can then enable many smaller goals along the way (such as that sub-3 marathon).
When I became a father, for a short while I lost sight of my infinite purpose. I found it difficult to maintain the training routine that had brought me solid progress. I ended up training less, which saw a decrease in my performances, and then as a by-product, left me feeling like I had less energy and more stress; the exact opposite of what I needed to be the best father I could and a shift away from my infinite purpose.
I needed to adapt. I bought a running buggy (which my son Xavier loved cruising in), shifted the timing and venues of some of my training, and eventually started to get back on track. This experience reinforced that I feel better, make better decisions and am more productive at work when I’m fit and healthy. My family and friends get a better version of me when I exercise regularly, so my infinite purpose has a positive ripple effect into so many other areas of my life.
Some research that affirmed my beliefs comes from Cornell University psychologist Anthony Burrow, who explains that many people who lack purpose “just drift through life”, not really sure in which direction to head and what goals to set. In his interview with Shankar Vedantam on the Hidden Brain podcast, Burrow suggests that goals may be thought of as intentions, which can be achieved, whereas a purpose is an intentionality or life aim that is always in front of you. As I get older and still have aims to push my physical potential and challenge my body, as well as inspire and set the right example for my son, the idea of an infinite purpose becomes even more critical for me in my life.
Having been surrounded by elite athletes throughout my sporting life, I know many struggle with direction after they reach their goals, as they are left wondering, ‘What next?’ A prime example of an elite sportsman at the top of his game but lacking an infinite purpose was American tennis player Andre Agassi. The eight-time grand slam champion wrote in his autobiography Open about how he hated tennis even when he became world number one. After attaining the number one ranking, Agassi had no further goals, which caused him to fall into a state of depression and feel a diminished sense of self worth. But once Agassi realised he was inspiring others with his tennis, he was able to support his real passion, ‘equal education for all’, which led him to set up hundreds of schools worldwide to support children with limited access to public education. He found his purpose of using tennis as a vehicle to greater change.If you are still on the journey to discovering your passion and/or finding your infinite purpose, all is not lost. 2023 could provide many exciting opportunities for you to explore a host of new events. Maybe you can find them here in Singapore with Fatburd Events? Remember also that sometimes the wrong path or a bad experience can help clarify and confirm what you love. However, if you are clear on your passions and have found purpose, your next step may be to set some exciting goals for the future; this will be the focus of my next post.