The On-Purpose Tourney

The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder – waif, a nothing, a no man. Have a purpose in life, and, having it, throw such strength of mind and muscle into your work as God has given you. – Thomas Carlyle

A few weeks ago, we discussed the importance of asking the complex question: “Who Are You?” This question has perplexed me over the past year, and I have certainly needed a way to prioritize my wants, dreams, goals, and desires to determine my purpose.

In Kevin W. McCarthy’s book, The On-Purpose Person, we find an awesome activity that helps the average person find clarity during their purpose-driven search…The On-Purpose Tournament.

We start our On-Purpose Tournament with a fun brainstorming session. Grab eight pieces of paper and write one of the following terms at the top of each page…which we call Life Accounts.

  • Financial/Material
  • Vocational/Career/Work
  • Social/Community
  • Family
  • Physical/Health/Recreational
  • Mental/Intellectual/Emotional
  • Spiritual
  • Other

Next we create a “Want List” with as many things as you can think of for the eight different life accounts. Wants are things that you would like to do/accomplish/try in each category. For example, under Physical you could add “Lose 6 pounds,” or add “Become a Licensed Professional Counselor” to the Career Life Account.

Get alone, shut off the distractions, and spend time writing in your wants for each of the eight categories. Dream big, go nuts, brainstorm, write down as many as you can think of for each Life Account. It is important to randomized or alternate your wants by writing one at the top of the page and the next at the bottom. Once you have your eight Life Accounts packed full of “wants,” it is time for to create a tournament for each category.

The Tournaments

According to The On-Purpose Person, “Every want on your list competes for your resources, time, energy and talent. You need a simple system for discerning what is really important so you can let go of lesser priorities and commit yourself to what matters most.” This is why we create the On-Purpose Tournament.

The On-Purpose Tournament

Grab one list at a time, sequentially number each want, and fill in the bracket for each category. This is done just like the NCAA Basketball Tournament, HS football playoffs, or any tennis tournament. If you have an odd number, one item on the list will have a bye and automatically move on to the next round. Advance each want according to which one is the most important to you. Keep advancing wants until you have one clear winner for each Life Account.

All wants are winners, this just helps prioritize. Some might be hard decisions, but this thought process is what provides clarity. You haven’t eliminated your dreams and desires, they are just lower priorities at the moment. At the end of this process you should have a winner for each category…now it is time for the Main Draw.

The Main Draw

Take the winner of all eight Life Accounts and create a new bracket for the Main Draw, the tournament of all tournaments. The Main Draw can be very challenging, and will cause you to seriously contemplate which want will advance to become the overall winner. This process helps you determine your purpose by allowing you to focus on your most important wants, dreams, and goals.

I hope you can use The On-Purpose Tournament to keep you on track! Have you used something like this? If you have completed this tourney before, how did it help you prioritize and focus?

Ryan Eller

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