A Well-being Checkup Part 6 – Why are you here?

October 5, 2022

Even if your body feels ok. Even if you’re more or less at peace. Even if your life is generally in order. Even if your relationships seem to be healthy. And even if your financial state is sound, your well-being may be less than desired. You may carry a lingering dissatisfaction with life. It may be because you are struggling with your why…your purpose or calling.

This post is the final installment in this series of checkups to help you take a pulse on your happiness, contentment and self-worth. If you missed any of the other check-ups, you can find them all here.

To explain this sixth life factor of purpose, I’ll tell you a brief story based on the illustration  David Brooks presents in his book The Second Mountain. See if this story feels like yours.

You came out of college revved up and ready to go climb the first mountain of your life. There are two goals at the top of that first mountain. The first is the establishment of your identity – becoming who you think you should be and who others think you should be. The second goal is the acquisition of the American dream – the job, the career, the house, the family, and the picket fence.

But something happened, as it always happens to people as they climb the first mountain. They experience a failure. They encounter pain. They face a life transition. Or they just get disillusioned. The result is a fall into the valley of bewilderment. In this valley you’re unsure what to do next. Do you re-climb the first mountain and re-establish your identity and buy the next bigger thing in an effort to enhance your well-being?

There is another option. It is to begin the climb up the second mountain – the mountain of purpose. The mountain of destiny. If the goal of the first mountain is acquisition, the goal of the second mountain is contribution. If the focus of the first mountain is on self, then the focus of the second mountain is on others. The second mountain is an expression of what you stand for.

Of course, the question remains, is it possible to discover this destiny or this purpose? The answer is yes. Your purpose lies at the intersection of two massive truths. The first truth is about you, and it’s an awesome truth. You are uniquely gifted and have a unique life experience. The second truth is awful, and it’s about the brokenness of the world.

Where your uniqueness and abilities intersect the great needs of the world, there you will find your purpose. When you take a deep dive into the story of your life, the good, the bad, the wondrous and the ugly, and you combine that with your personality and skill set, a vision of your life will emerge that can contribute to the world in ways that will give you great joy and deep meaning.

The late Dallas Willard expressed it this way. “You were built to count as water was made to run downhill. You were placed in a specific context to count in ways that no one else does. That is your destiny.”

Most people never discover this calling, this purpose, this meaning.

  • Anomie has left many with no norms or moral focus.
  • Self-interest and self-preservation dominate our lives.
  • Religion is losing its place as a way to understand reality and purpose.
  • America’s largest generation to date is entering retirement without considering its legacy.
  • Young people want jobs with meaning but don’t know how to find them.

What about you? Are you living with a sense of calling? What do you stand for? Do you see a destiny ahead?

Take a moment and pay attention to your longing.

Assess the State of your Purpose

Here are some questions to help you determine whether you are climbing your “second mountain.”

Has pain or failure left you in the valley of bewilderment?
Are you in the middle of a disorienting life transition that clouds the future?
Are you happy in your job? Does it give you meaning?
How has your career intersected with your purpose?
How much of your life is lived for you and how much of it is lived for others?
What is your unique skill set and your unique personality and how does that shape your calling in the world?
What experiences have you had in your life story that point to a particular purpose or call on your life?
When did you hear a vision of what your life could be and who gave it to you? Have you ignored it?
When you look at our broken world, what breaks your heart?
What is it in this world that you wish you could fix?
How are your passions linked to your destiny?
What do you stand for?

My guess is that by now, having deeply considered the question of calling or destiny or purpose, there’s probably a dream that’s awakened inside of you of what a life full of meaning could actually look like.

So now let’s capture that dream!


Yes, you are not where you want to be but now that you know…it’s time to pull out your imagination. It’s time to dream. Be patient with this. Give yourself space to dream. Close your eyes, take a walk, breathe deeply and make a wish. Who are you when you are fully alive and living with a sense of calling? Imagine yourself leaving a legacy. What is it?

Set a Few Goals

Now, armed with your dream, create a few (no more than three) specific, measurable goals that, if pursued, could very well help your dream become reality. Here are a few examples:

Compile a list of the skills, gifts and talents that friends and family see in you.
Do a life mapping exercise to chronicle who and what has shaped you the most.
Take the Enneagram Personality Test to figure out your core motivations.

 Practice New Habits

With your dream firmly in your mind and your goals in front of you, identify some regular, very practical practices you can commit to over the next three months that will help you achieve your goals. Here are a few examples:

Keep a journal of your feelings, hopes and experiences.
Do a 10-minute mindfulness check in the morning and afternoon to take a pulse on your purpose.
Experiment with a variety of service opportunities to see what resonates with you.

 A Final Word on This Entire Well-being Checkup.

You are a smart, self-aware person. You can do this. You can dream. You can set goals. You can begin to practice new habits.

Generally, what it takes is setting aside the time to sit down and work through all six life factor check-ups. I strongly recommend that you schedule this assessment and dreaming process at the turn of every season – four times per year.

But sometimes you’re going to need a little help, a nudge, another set of eyes to help you probe what’s going on inside of you and your world. Sometimes you need a caring advisor to help you diagnose your discontent or to utter the five most important words they could ever say…”Here’s what I see in you.” Certainly, health care providers fit this description. Financial advisors, too. Then there are therapists, counselors, clergy and life coaches.

If you regularly receive my newsletters or read my blog, you know I would be happy to provide this kind of guidance. Here are links to the services I provide in well-being as well as destiny and purpose. I’ve coached all kinds of people from former NFL players to 80-year-old retirees to soccer moms, to CEOs, to pastors, to high school kids. I’ve also conducted well-being and destiny workshops for hundreds of folks in wildly diverse settings: corporations, churches, families, college fraternity chapters and neighborhood friend gatherings.

How might I help you dream again?

I wish you well!




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