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What is Purpose?

What is purpose?

Here at True Balance Karate in Downers Grove, Illinois, we have a social-emotional learning program called True Character. I’m Master H, owner and instructor here at the studio. And previously I taught special education for 15 years, two master’s degrees in education, and we have developed this program to best meet the needs of all of our students, as young as three or four, and as old as 84.

And this month we’re talking about purpose. What is purpose? What does it mean? How do we find it in different things, especially when it might be something that’s difficult?

And how we describe it to the kids, is that we have goals and motivations. How we describe it to older students, to adult students, it has to do with your intentions. It has to do with your reasoning, and it has to do with your motivations. Like your purpose comes from what are you trying to accomplish.

The what and the why. And the why is important because it gives you your reason to continue working towards that goal.

What does purpose do?

And so as we’re talking about purpose this month, we want to remember that purpose, it stops us from saying, “Oh, well.” It stops us from saying, “Eh, it doesn’t matter.” It gives us that reason to continue, and we can apply that thinking to a multitude of things.

For example, what if I decided, I said, “Oh, well,” to all my homework. Well, all the kids know that you’d get an F. You wouldn’t do well on your test. You wouldn’t be able to pass that grade. They could all tell you it’s important. So, homework has a purpose. They might not like it, but it has a purpose. There’s a reason behind it. There’s a goal behind it.

Another example, I’m sure many of you adults can relate to this. “Oh, well, I don’t feel like cooking tonight.” When we don’t have the purpose of eating a healthy meal or having that goal of making sure we get enough fruits and veggies in our day, those kinds of things, we kind of throw up our hands, “Oh, well, I don’t feel like cooking tonight. Let’s order in. Let’s do this. Let’s do that. Oh, well.” Right?

And so, our goals and our motivation is what gives us purpose to learn how to cook, to change our habits, to work towards something. Those are the things that give us our purpose, that give us our drive, that gives us our intent, our reasons why we continue to push ourselves, our reasons to continue to grow ourselves. And finding those reasons, finding those purposes, is really what we’re talking about this month.

Purpose as Motivation

And last month, we had talked about optimism, and we kind of laid the foundation by talking about that because continuing to find that motivation, continuing to find that drive, requires optimism.

So, we taught all of the students how to be optimistic, so that when we were talking about purpose, when we were talking about goals and motivation and intent, we can also have that honest conversation of, “What do you do when you feel that? Oh, well.” Because that’s the opposite of purpose. “Oh, well, it doesn’t matter anyway. I just won’t turn in my homework.” “I just won’t learn how to cook.” “I just won’t learn how to tie my shoes.” “I just won’t learn how to… Oh, well.” That’s not your purpose. Your purpose is to find those reasons to keep making yourself better.

I myself have been on a journey for the last two or three years now, of were eating better, sleeping better, mental health better, all those kinds of things. And the purpose for me was the fact that I wanted to show up as a better version of myself every time. I had a reason. I had an intent.

And as I was sitting down talking with my coach, we would talk about small things first. Water. That was all it was. That’s all I focused on for three months, was looking in and grabbing more water to drink. Looking at what I chose instead of water, and then making those adjustments to that habit because my purpose was to show up better for myself. I couldn’t just throw up my hands and say, “Oh, well.”

Purpose in Everyday Life

So as we continue through this journey of talking about purpose this month, we’re going to talk about it from the standpoint of karate and martial arts and setting a big, long-term goal of black belt. We’re going to talk about it in terms of the purpose of school, because school actually teaches us so much more beyond reading, writing, and math. And we’re going to talk about it from the point of our families and how there’s purpose and goals and things that we can do together as a family, to incorporate this kind of thought into how we interact with each other.

And so as we talk about purpose, we’re going to talk about goal setting, we’re going to talk about the motivations and the what and the why behind what we do.

Thanks, and I’ll see you on the mat!


True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here