It can lead to greater success in realizing goals

We’ve all had the experience of making a firm resolution to reach a goal, only to lose the initial enthusiasm and fall off track. I know from personal experience how easy it is to get distracted or pulled in another direction.

I once heard a story about a young animal trainer in India whose elephants were highly prized. Elephants are known to be quite a nuisance in the open-air markets of India. Their big ears flap and their huge trunks wag back and forth, knocking fruit and vegetables off stands and sometimes even knocking over vendors’ stalls.

One day, the young animal trainer rode into town atop a regal-looking elephant. The elephant walked right down the central corridor of the market without knocking so much as a single apple off a cart. When asked how he had trained the massive beast to walk a straight line, the trainer smiled and held up his staff. The elephant trainer’s secret was this: By carefully placing a staff inside the elephant’s trunk, the animal naturally walked straight instead of wagging from side to side.

People are not that much different than elephants when it comes to walking a straight line. One minute you’re on task and the next, you’re on your cellphone responding to a friend’s text message. Knowing your purpose keeps you on track by helping you choose where to put your focus. Like the staff in the elephant’s trunk, it keeps you from wavering around and getting buffeted about by your hunger for something you can’t quite put your finger on. Your purpose infuses meaning and guides you through each turn in the road of life.

Being Enthusiastic About Your Purpose

Most of us have no problem talking enthusiastically about a movie we’ve just seen or a restaurant we’ve discovered. Not so when someone asks, “Why are you here?” or “What is your life purpose?” (Yikes!) When it comes to talking about our purpose, vision and values, many of us shut down. Purpose is a sensitive subject for good reason: It’s core to who you are and therefore very revealing.

All of us want and need a reason to live. The question, “Why am I here?” is universal among humans. Those who don’t find meaning in their work and life often pay a heavy price, because a life without purpose feels empty.

I’ve found that my strongest motivator and path to success is to remember my purpose. While making a decision or gearing up for an important project, this helps me to draw on all my energy with clear intent.

Purpose allows you to engage with life full-on, to make better decisions, be more effective and experience real satisfaction. In short, knowing your purpose transforms every endeavor by infusing it with meaning.

Bottom line: Your intention and purpose can keep you on track, moving you in the direction you really want. Checking in with your purpose provides a rock-solid foundation from which to consciously create your life.

10 Questions to Clarify Your Purpose

Many people share with me that they think they know what their purpose is, but aren’t 100 percent sure. That’s because they are thinking about a purpose, with no feeling or passion connected with it. However, I find that when we embody our purpose—in our whole self, not just our mind—we are truly connected to it. That’s when it takes hold in our life, is naturally expressed to others through our body language and words, and brings more success and happiness to us.

The following prompts will help you discover your life purpose by evoking images, which are profoundly personal messages from your unconscious. You can choose to read the questions or go to to be guided by audio through them.

After you read or hear each question, close your eyes and listen inwardly for an answer. Then, open your eyes and say aloud or write down the first thought, symbol or picture that comes to mind. Stay open and curious. The words, images and sounds that result may surprise you.

Repeat this process for each question. Remember to breathe in as you read, then close your eyes and breathe out. Continue breathing and wait until something comes, then open your eyes and say or write what came.

1. What is my purpose for being alive right now?

2. What is uniquely valuable about me?

3. What do I do that serves and helps others?

4. What am I most passionate about in my life?

5. How, when and where do I express my purpose through my health?

6. How, when and where do I express my purpose in my relationships?

7. How, when and where do I best express my purpose in my career?

8. Where in my life am I aligned with my purpose?

9. Where in my life am I not aligned with my purpose?

10. What actions can I take to be more aligned with my purpose?

What did you discover? Perhaps you felt a place in yourself that wants to make a deeper commitment to your career or relationships. Or maybe you received a clear message to make a big change in your life.

As you move through your day, maintain an awareness of your answers to these questions.

Steve Sisgold holds an M.A. in marketing, a B.S. in business, and certifications in body-centered psychotherapy and business coaching. He appeared on PBS TV and Oprah Radio, and blogs for The Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and Mind Body Green. His newest book, Whole Body Intelligence, launched at No. 1 on in several categories. For more information, visit