Finding Purpose

Finding Life’s Purpose – & Thriving!

“Life owes us little; we owe it everything. 
The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose.”

William Cowper

What Is Life’s Purpose?

Many clients ask this question. It’s a good one.

But just reading books and articles and taking quizzes to figure it out is not enough.

You have to ask, “What most matters to me?” and then take action to bring what matters into being.As you create what you care about, clarity about purpose grows.

As you scale up to larger results, your deepest desires and highest aspirations emerge.

So does the answer to the question, “What’s my purpose?”

So, What’s My Purpose In Life?

I am writer and personal life coach and have been for most of the last 25 years.

My purpose is to help people develop the skills and structure to create what matters, and to give their gifts to the world.

But, it hasn’t always been that clear. Back in the ’90’s, I was an Organizational Design Consultant. It paid well, but it wasn’t a path with heart. So I gave it up and focused on coaching and writing.

Sounds simple. But, to get to this clarity of purpose, I took a lot of twists and turns, exploring and experimenting with what mattered to me.

Along the way, I realized that if my life was to be purpose driven, I might have to create that purpose for myself.

My Interest in Prevention and Empowerment

I started my career as a Criminologist. I thought I would find purpose in prison reform and rehabilitation. But a job in the Juvenile and Family Court convinced me that my purpose more likely lie in prevention and empowerment.

I wanted to focus on positive approaches, not negatives. Working with delinquents and criminals was not my purpose in life. So I went back to school, got another degree, and became a high school teacher.

Joy and Frustration Teaching School

I loved teaching. I loved kids. I loved the challenge. However, the system wanted me to teach school more than teach kids. I feared my young charges were not learning to live healthy, productive, and creative lives.

Wanting to empower kids to create successful, purpose-filled lives, I enrolled in a Master’s of Education program. Later, I taught high school again. During my second year back in the classroom, I suffered the debilitating depression described in my Emotional Mastery eBook .

I quit teaching again, enrolled in a Master’s of Environmental Design, but didn’t stick with it. Instead, I joined a local think tank and began developing experiential education programs to empower teens and adults. Still later, I taught and supervised student teachers at Simon Fraser University.

Gradually, I realized the school system was not easily changed. During this time, depression and anxiety plagued me, causing me to question even more deeply that life purpose that I so desperately sought.

Experiences in Personal and Environmental Exploration

My purpose-seeking quest took a leap forward when I got a job designing environmental education programs for the Rocky Mountain YMCA. I later became a Director of the Y’s Leadership Camp.

I met and befriended Steve Van Matre, founder of the Institute for Earth Education (IEE). Steve taught me to design programs that were fun, engaging, and based on science and engaging learning principles. I became IEE’s Senior Trainer.

Shifting from institutional to experiential education opened new worlds for me. I connected with Ken Low, Director of the Action Studies Institute (ASI) in Calgary, the think tank I mentioned above.

As an Associate of ASI, I added self-empowerment to environmental education. I designed Earthways: Experiences in Personal and Environmental Exploration, a 3-week wilderness camp for teens that combined ASI’s character-building approach with IEE’s ecological understanding. Creating and running Earthways was one of the highlights of my life.

I also helped design a Freedom Skills programs that helped people develop the “generic” – high-order, transferable — skills to move from “freedom from” to “freedom to.” By developing skills such as initiative, purpose, patience, perseverance, and creativity, our programs both engaged and empowered kids.

I began to suspect that my elusive life purpose would be less about finding it and more about creating it.

Another highlight of this part of my life was becoming Director of Yamnuska Mountain School in Canmore, AB.

During my 6 years with Yamnuska, I took it from a small, money-losing YMCA program to a profitable, private mountain skills and leadership school, with a reputation as as one of the best in North America.

I taught myself how to be an entrepreneur, business leader and mentor. YMS became Yamnuska Mountain Adventures and is still a North American leader in outdoor adventure.

Creating and the Path of Least Resistance

While researching creativity for ASI, I stumbled on the work of Robert Fritz, author of The Path of Least Resistance.

Robert became my mentor in creating the kind and quality of life I truly wanted.

His creating process offered me a radically different approach to producing results than problem solving. I trained and worked with Robert for 9 years, upping my ability to shift from a problem-driven “freedom from” stance to a results-driven stance based on “freedom to create what matters.”

I became a leading trainer in the areas of personal, professional and organizational creativity. I did workshops for start-ups and Fortune 500 giants. I coached executive teams, professionals, artists and single moms.

I helped individuals master their creative process and create purpose driven lives, work and relationships. It was working with Fritz that I learned that life’s purpose tends to emerge as we create what we truly want in our lives and work.

Creating Purpose in Life – What Matters Most to Me

Creating what matters most now seemed to me to be the best way of finding life’s purpose. Or, rather, I should say creating my own life purpose!

Earlier, I’d started writing. Writing and teaching people to create were what mattered. I was clarifying my purpose, but something was still missing.

I wanted to empower individuals to create simple, rich and successful lives.

And I wanted to write about that process as well as do, teach and coach folks in it. As I got deeper into both writing and creating, I saw I’d traveled full circle.

As T.S. Elliot said in The Four Quartets, “At the end of all our exploration, we shall arrive at where we started, and know that place for the first time.”

I connected a circle that started with empowerment and teaching, moved to experiential and Earth Education, then to creating what matters, and finally to writing as a way to empower others.

I realized that I most wanted to write and coach in ways that helped people create rich yet simple and flourishing lives.

I’m deeply grateful I’ve been able to create my own purpose in life.

I’m grateful that I’m able to create what matters most to me and to live a simple, rich and flourishing life as a personal coach. Victoria, BC is a lovely base from which to work and live.

And I’m most grateful that others appreciate what I do.

Need Help Creating Your Life Purpose?

If you’re looking for a personal life coach or a success coach that can help you create your purpose in life, please consider me and my creating approach.

You might find that you create your own path with heart much quicker and easier than I did.

For more info, check out the box below

Books by Bruce Elkin

Thrive! Creating what matters most, by Bruce Elkin.
Simplicity and Success, by Bruce Elkin.
Emotional Mastery, by Bruce Elkin.
Creating Sustainable Success, by Bruce Elkin.
The ABCs of Emotional Mastery, by Bruce Elkin.