Person on a spit of land looking out over water. Overhead colourful clouds are forming

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

William Cowper

WHAT IS OUR LIFE PURPOSE?

Purpose: noun
1. the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc
2. an intended or desired results: end; aim; goal.
3. determination; resoluteness

Purpose answers the question, “What do I really care about—and want to see exist?”

A clear and compelling purpose ignites passion, and empowers you to persevere and persist in pursuit of that purpose.

You can create results without a powerful purpose. BUT I’ve found that as clients create desired results, clarity about their purpose grows. It worked that way for me, too.

So, What’s My Purpose ?

My purpose is to help people develop the skills and structure to create what truly matters to them, and give those gifts to the world—independent of their current problems, circumstances and resources.

Sounds simple, eh? And it is, now.

But, to get this clarity, I took many twists and turns, exploring and experimenting with different versions of what mattered most.

As I did, I realized that if my life was to be purpose driven, I might have to create my purpose for myself.

Early Interest in Prevention and Empowerment

I started my career as a Criminologist, focusing on prison reform and rehabilitation.

But a year in the Family Court convinced me that my path more likely lay in prevention and empowerment. Working with delinquents and criminals was not my purpose in life.

I wanted to focus on positive approaches, not negatives. So I went back to school, got another degree, and became a high school teacher.

Teaching School

I loved teaching. I loved kids. I loved the challenge. 

I did well as a teacher in the eyes of students and some administrators.

However, “the system” wanted me to teach school more than teach kids.

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, and suffered the debilitating depression described in my Emotional Mastery eBook .

After experimenting with Environmental Design, I joined the Action Studies Institute (ASI), a Calgary think tank that developed experience-based empowerment programs for teens and adults.

Still later, I taught and supervised student teachers at Simon Fraser University. There, I realized the school system was not easily changed. 

During this time, depression and anxiety plagued me, causing me to question more deeply that life purpose I so desperately sought.

Teen girl sits alone in rocks above her mountain camp, pondering her life purpose. Sun setting behind peaks. Her tent visible below.
Teen ponders her purpose on a mountain solo

Experiences in Personal and Environmental Exploration

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

Also, as a trainer for the Institute for Earth Education (IEE), I learned to design immersive, outdoor ecology programs that were fun, engaging, and based on science and engaging pedagogical principles.

Shifting from institutional to experiential education opened new worlds for me. 

I designed and ran 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. Earthways was one of the highlights of my life.

During the winters, I also helped design a Freedom Skills programs that helped people of all ages develop personal competence based on “generic skills”— high-order, character skills that enable us to move from “freedom from” to “freedom to.”

Another highlight was becoming Director of Yamnuska Mountain Schoo (YMS) l in Canmore, AB.

During 6 years with Yamnuska, I taught myself how to be an entrepreneur, business leader and mentor.

I took YMS from a small, money-losing Y program to a profitable, private, mountain skills and leadership school, with a reputation as one of the best in North America.

Creating and the Path of Least Resistance

While researching creativity for the Freedom Skills project, I stumbled Robert Fritz’s book The Path of Least Resistance.

Subtitled “Principles For Creating What You Want To Create,” it offered a results-creating approach to producing results, rather than merely solving problems. 

I trained and worked with Robert for 9 years, upping my ability to shift from a problem-driven, “freedom from” stance to a creating stance based on “freedom to create what matters.”

Coaching/Consulting

I became a freelance trainer and coach in the areas of personal, professional and organizational creativity. 

I did workshops for small start-ups and Fortune 500 giants. I coached executives, professionals, artists and single moms.

I helped individuals master their creative process, and create purpose driven lives, work and relationships.

I learned that our life purpose often emerges as we create what we most want in life and work.

Creating What Matters Most to Me

As well as empowering individuals to create simple, rich and successful lives, I wanted to write about that process. As I got deeper into both writing and creating, I saw I’d traveled full circle.

Blank journal page open on a rough wood desk. A pen lying in the crease of the book
My path with heart.

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’d started with prevention and teaching, moved to experiential ed and Earth Education, then to creating what matters, and finally to writing as a way to empower others.

At first, I saw writing as supporting my coaching work.

But, the more I wrote and the better writer I became, I realized that writing was my life work—my path with heart. Coaching, though still important, now supports my writing.

For that twisted path and the clarity of purpose it led to, I’m most grateful.

I only wish that I’d had the skills and organizing framework that I now coach others in applying to life, work and relationships.


Need Help Creating Your Life Purpose?

I’d like to share what I’ve learned about creating purpose in life, and following your own path with heart.

With a caring, supportive, personal life coach to help you, you might find that you find or create your own path quicker and easier than I did.

Email me with “Purpose” as subject, and I’ll send you my Coaching Info Package

 

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.