Going through life without a particular purpose is okay. You get by. You don’t go anywhere, but the days pass. There’s television—with the Super Bowl, pro wrestling, reality shows, infomercials, dramas, sitcoms, news and video games. We have food and drink, real and man-made, fast and home-delivered. There are drugs and alcohol. Our wandering attention is captured by the endless dilemmas presented by the news media, the hopes offered by advertisers and the general threat of daily living in a post-9/11 world.
Purpose? Who needs, considers or has time for purpose?
Purpose, I might point out, is often interchangeable with goals and motivations and is cousin to reason and incentive.
We are choked with entertainment and distractions and goofiness. I’ll just slap on my earphones and listen to some sounds on my satellite radio while I check out my iPhone. Yo. “Terminator IX” is playing at the Coliseum of Theaters, and I can purchase tickets with my credit card over my cell phone.
Several dynamics are at work obstructing purpose, the main driving force in a productive and aspiring individual, community and society.
• In today’s delirious world a person can be too distracted to have a purpose.
• He is rendered shallow by the senseless frivolity surrounding him and fails to consider the need for purpose.
• He recognizes the value of purpose, realizes the commitment, dedication and hard work it necessitates, but chooses ample distractions to avoid its responsibilities.
• The importance of purpose is clear; it is hastily installed, yet as hard as he tries, he can’t sustain its requirements. The lure and clutter of amusements are too demanding and overpowering.
Purpose never had a chance.
Life without a purpose is like a hand without a thumb; you can scratch, point, tap, count up to four, but you can’t get a grip on anything. You can grasp, but you can’t hold on.
Folks without purpose fall asleep at the wheel, get off at the wrong station and put their pants on backward. They get by, they make it through the day, they may even have family and friends and a good-paying job, but beneath the first layer of skin there’s Styrofoam.
Styrofoam is a modern invention that efficiently replaces real substance. Cheap, lightweight, a great filler, it insulates and withstands hot and cold—the perfect substitute for purpose where purpose does not exist. Styrofoam is everywhere today. I suspect I myself have pockets of Styrofoam.
Occasionally I notice that I’m zipping along yet neither moving forward nor back. I look down, and lo and behold, my pants are on backward. I hate that. Not the Captain of the Bomb Squad—without a compass, adrift in thin air, altitude unknown, zipper to the rear and targetless.
No panic; been there. It’s just a warning, like the blink on the dashboard that indicates our seat belts are a nuisance; a painfully welcome and familiar signal to arouse and remind us to watch where we’re going and what we’re doing and why—huge and ripped or lean and mean—if we want to get there.
When purpose wanes, when motivation recedes, when a goal is not in sight, I become restless, sluggish and stale. I, as you, am unlike my video-game, fast-food counterpart, and the condition soon becomes evident and quickly unacceptable. Steps must be taken to overcome the stall in my forward movement, my flight, and I look toward my training to amend the minor disaster. I have observed that my personal life and my training are inextricably entwined, and fixing one gives health to the other. And the closer I look, the more I’m convinced it’s my training that determines the desirable flow of my life—events, moods, energy and spirits.
Training without purpose is like shopping at the supermarket without a shopping list, an appetite or any memory of what’s in the refrigerator or on the shelves at home. You wander the aisles and finally come home with a 25-pound bag of Doggie Chow.
So what if you don’t have a dog? It was on sale.
You know why you go to the gym and eat right. The list’s as long as your arm, yet you sometimes forget. Life’s like that. It rolls along with ups and downs, through hot and cold, and moves in mysterious cycles. We’re eager and joyful and hitting the mark day after day, and then the mark eludes us—we become irritable, withdrawn and careless.
Speak for yourself, Draper.
We wonder why we bother. We punch at the air and kick inanimate objects and hiss. Swell. Now we’re soft and puffy, and the weights feel like they’re bolted to the floor. No more veins, pumps gone. Good-bye, cruel world.
But wait: Don’t flush away months of training and sacrifice in one pull of the handle. We gotta continually feed the fire within. The flickering embers grow cold if we don’t review the reasons for our efforts, relive our successes, revive our goals and remember we’re special, sort of.
• Review regularly takes place in the subconscious—preparation.
• Reliving our achievements is occasionally done when we feel generous and slightly numb—encouragement.
• Revival of goals must be done at appropriate intervals with intention, humility and high hopes, as often as it takes for them to become certain and real—reinforcement.
• Remember, we know people who don’t have goals, never heard of them or made them and forgot them—dead men walking.
Your goals, your level of motivation, concentration of incentives, clarity and depth of reasons—your decided purpose—determines your training efficiency and effectiveness and joy. Think “why” before you lift, and lift hard.
Time to rest the wings, bombers. Last one to leave the hangar, douse the lights, would ya?
Tomorrow we fly like eagles.…
Editor’s note: For more from Dave Draper, visit www.DaveDraper.com and sign up for his free newsletter. You can also check out his amazing Top Squat training tool, classic photos, workout Q&A and forum.