Ask 100 different people to define “purpose” and you’ll likely get as many different answers as possible. Purpose is often elusive, both in its definition and our personal sense of purpose. Yet there’s a strong connection between purpose, wellbeing, and our healthiest behaviors.
You might think you find purpose first, and then feel motivated to care for yourself, but the most recent research on purpose shows that’s not always the case. There have been some exciting breakthroughs in how movement relates to purpose, how we can foster purpose through physical activity, and the ways that trainers and health and wellness coaches can support our clients far beyond their fitness and health.
4 Tips to Connect with Purpose through Movement
While research is ongoing, here are 4 ways you, and your clients, can explore purpose through movement:
1. Make Movement Meaningful
As coaches and trainers, we often talk to our clients about their goals, but we may not consistently tie their movement practices to what drives them day to day. Human minds are meaning-making machines, and when we connect our daily practices with what we find meaningful we find more fulfillment and life satisfaction (Smith, 2017). Connecting movement practices with deeply held values and beliefs supports the connection with meaning and purpose.
2. Set Non-aesthetic Goals
While many people exercise to benefit their appearance, studies show that focusing on weight and aesthetic goals harms motivation long term. However, those who focus on their life goals, health, stress, emotional well-being, or accomplishment are more consistent and happier with their results (Ingledew & Markland, 2008). With that increased consistently may come the benefits to purpose.
3. Harness Your Strengths
Research in Positive Psychology has clearly shown that when we focus on our personal strengths it benefits our motivation, well-being, social connection, and motivation. To harness strengths through movement, choose activities you like to do, that feel good, or that you feel your good at. Or, if you feel none of these is true for you, you might choose to see how your strengths show up through physical activity. For example, if you think of yourself as a tenacious person but you don’t like exercise, getting yourself to exercise is an expression of your tenacity.
4. Find Social Connections
Purpose in life throughout our lifespan has been closely tied with social connection (Pinquart, 2002). One way we can promote purpose is to choose physical activities we can do with others, or as trainers and coaches we can be the social support for our clients. We can also start social groups and other opportunities for community that drive connection, support, consistency, and purpose.