I.What's a purpose and why is it important?

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Hi I'm Steve Samek the creator of the Ying Yang Trail and narrator for your journey.

Merely by clicking on this short video, you've achieved more toward accomplishing your life's purpose than 90% of the American public. Without creating and following a life's purpose many people run a significant risk of literally shortchanging their life.

And since my life's purpose is. To …"Help Others Maximize Their Own lives, I thought there would be no better way for me to help you than to become your personal coach to guide you through your journey to explore your life's purpose

The Yin Yang Trail is designed to help people start that journey to deeply explore their "life's purpose" no matter where they are in their personal journey now… even if they have no idea what a Life's Purpose is or why it's so important… So Hang in there I'll make all that clear!.

I promise you that with a modest investment of time this will be perhaps the most transformational thing you will ever do for yourself.

I'll actually be launching the Trail, research, tools, support material and guidebooks you can tailor for yourself over the winter of 2016-2017 but have include a number of video "snippets" in this rudimentary version of the website both to help you get some background and to capture your feedback on suggestions and input I can use to meet your needs.

Many of the high level questions you may have at this point are covered in the video vignettes. Simply click on what might be of interest to you and hopefully I have covered it.

But be sure to include any remaining questions or suggestions and input you might have in the blog and join me on Facebook at Yin Yang Trail Steve Samek where I will keep members up to date on progress.

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What is a life's purpose?

At a very basic level, your purpose is your reason for being. It's why you're here on earth. By defining it, you gain clarity, focus, and direction to your life. It flows from your values and is used to filter and make choices and decisions in your life

Now, at a higher level it is the intersection between what brings you joy and where you can help the world. Or as Fredrick Buechner once said "Where your deep gladness meets the worlds needs".

Perhaps one of the most "famous" life's purpose example is Martin Luther King's summed up in his "I have a dream" vision. His purpose was to eliminate the deep racism in America and change the dialogue globally. Almost 50 years later, because of the journey he started, the country, while not perfect, has significantly closed the GAP, every aspect of life as we know as it relates to the racial divide has improved at some level. Electing a black President was unfathomable even a generation ago. In his case his purpose was so strong he was willing to lay down his life for it.

But please don't be intimidated by this once in a century example, as I will illustrate with examples during the tour, a life's purpose need not be so "grandiose". All it needs is to be "yours". After all it is your life and reflects who you are not who others think you are. And always remember, no one has the right to critique your purpose, as Billy Joel famously sang, "like mistakes it's one of the only things you can truly call your own". Shortly I will post some video links to illustrate some moving life purposes that are clearly very personal

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So, why is a life's purpose so important?

In some respects, it might actually be easier to illustrate the result of not having a purpose than the benefits of having one. Remember the famous exchange between Alice and the Cheshire cat in Lewis Carroll's wonderful Classic "Alice in Wonderland"?

Alice: Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don't care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn't matter which way you go.
Alice: So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Does Alice sound a little like you at times?

If you're like most of us, as the pace of life accelerates, you try to quicken your actions to stay ahead. But no matter how hard you try; it's likely that at times you feel as if your life's journey is out of balance. You may be "accomplishing a lot" but to what end and more importantly for what purpose. You know you should do something to add more direction and meaning to your life. But what? Is there a Cheshire cat in Your Sub-Conscience? I hope so!

On the other hand you likely have also felt that sense of great accomplishment, satisfaction, and even an exhilarating and energizing feeling of fulfillment when you have completed some critical task or goal, no matter how trivial, that was important to you at that time in spite of overwhelmingly hard work and sacrifice. Now Why? Well, because that task probably had a well defined purpose that you found worthy of achieving; whether it was a major project at work, completion of a seemingly endless to-do list on a day you wanted to have and outing with friends if the list was completed, or working long hours to pay for a desired vacation for your family.

The key to satisfaction and success in most of life's endeavors is to have a strong sense of purpose. The same is true on a grander scale for your life. Your life's purpose becomes the prism that channels the spectrum of life's activities. The key questions you should ask to guide your life's journey are the same ones Alice failed to ask: "Where do I want to go (which is my life's purpose) and how do I get there (which is my life's plan)?" Unfortunately, like Alice, for many, these key questions never really get adequately addressed.

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But, you may be thinking, I'm not sure it's right for me at this stage of my life?

I've conducted an informal survey with people I meet by asking them if they have thought about life's purpose and what theirs might be. I tend to get answers that fall into several typical "buckets". Ironically the answers seem to be fairly evenly split between and along the following spectrum. As I explain the responses ask yourself where on the spectrum you are and I will highlight what you may seek to obtain from the Yin Yang Trail journey to help you.

The first one is:

  1. What's a purpose? (These people simply are unaware of what it is let alone if it can help them. The Yin Yang trail journey will explain this with examples and allow them to personalize it for themselves.) ….. or this one that is a little more in your face:
  2. "I don't believe in that "Soft Squishy Crap". It's all B.S. (Lets face it, it will be awhile before these people convert. At least I hope I can educate these people about the substantial difference it's made in others lives and could in theirs with a myriad of examples you will see)…. Or this response which leaves the door open a crack
  3. "I've read some stuff about this but I'm not sure it 's for me. I think I'm too old (or young) (Well at least they are aware and thinking about it. Hopefully the journey will help them personalize the process to their stage of life.)…. Or the timid perfectionist who cant seem to pull the trigger:
  4. Yes, I've been thinking about it for a while and believe it might be helpful but I don't know where to start and am afraid "I'll screw it up". (These people just need a little confidence or reinforcement to catch the fire. Though examples and the workbook they complete on the tour they can start without fear.)……. Or the classic A type impatient personality (probably the same 75% of America that never get passed the first week in their annual New Years resolution…
  5. Oh yes, can you tell me how to do it in the next 30 minutes (here at the party) so I can realize the benefits tomorrow…. (Of course these respondent's have no idea that creating a life's purpose is a process that may take years to execute, not a "widget" you can buy off the shelf. The tour can help them get a "Jump Start" they are looking for but importantly lay out the path for systemic action over time)
  6. Or finally my favorite response: "Do you have a minute? Let me explain it and tell you what I'm doing to accomplish it. I could use any insight you can give me. (Oh Boy strap on your seat belt,this person is about ready to share their excitement with you)
  7. In fact one 25 year old women recently went on a 20 minutes very insightful explanation of how she speaks 12 sign languages, wants to open an international school for the deaf linking them together globally to better unlock the potential of these high potential handicapped people along with a plan to raise the necessary funds… It was as moving of a life purpose as I think I have ever heard… and she is 25! By the way , do you think her life is ever boring?

Even for people who have a very matured life purpose, the tour can help provide some best practices, and possible networks of others like them.

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Does a life's purpose really help?

Well, wherever you are in the spectrum, the facts are overwhelming.

A recent study from Princeton evaluated 8000 individuals over a 14 year period and proved that having a strong sense of personal purpose dramatically improved (by up to 30%) a wide range of psychological and physiological factors including one's sense of wellbeing, personal relationships, mental health, and cardiovascular response to stress, among many others.
A well-defined and actively pursued life's purpose also increased their life expectancy by 2 years on average

In other words, It is not just B.S. There is in fact a strong corollary between a person's success and the existence of a stated guiding purpose and plan for their life's journey. Yet the study also points out that fewer than 10% of people have a defined life purpose (let alone a plan to execute it)…Sadly 90% of us are in fact just like Alice.

So are you in the 90% or the 10%? Only you can answer for yourself where you really are in this spectrum and how you feel about your execution. I suggest a major contributor to your life's emotional state is if you have defined your life's purpose, have a plan, and the discipline to execute it.

II.What's the Yin Yang trail & how does it help me create my life's purpose?

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Ok, I get it. So what is The Yin Yang Trail?

Think of this, If you were about to take a 3000 mile cross country driving trip the first thing you would do before starting would be to fire up your GPS. You'd put in your starting point (that's where you are today) and your destination (that's your life Purpose) and the GPS would help guide your through the journey. Think of the GPS as the Yin Yang trail that you use as the process to help you create and guide your life's activity to realize your life's goals.

The physical journey is a half-mile walk in a restful engaging park like setting. I'll provide the "traveler" (by the way, that would be you) an audio & video narration to guide you on your journey. There are 8 stops along the way where the traveler can sit back and reflect while completing a brief exercise in the accompanying guidebook to focus on each of the steps to help you get a better understand yourself, create your own purpose and develop a work plan to start …all while you're engaged in the journey.

The 8 portions of the trail with coinciding rest stops along the path parallel the primary proven steps to creating a successful life's purpose and plan. Each stop is designed to provide additional material to give added insight to the techniques and a place for the traveler (again that's YOU) to reflect on your life and work through the logical steps of your journey. Each portion of the trail along with the key objective and a brief summary of the activities for that section are summarized in a separate discussion.

The simple facts are however that the vast majority of you watching this video will never be able to physically take the tour at its present location…. I know that …But that is where it gets exciting. There will be a number of ways to take the tour and get all of its benefits. Let me summarize:

  • I will have the entire tour and the support material in this website …including a virtual reality tour of the prototype property…You can literally be there while in the comforts of your own home…This will hopefully be completed in stages starting this winter (2017). Obviously, this will also be very useful to reinforce the tour and provide you with instant reference material when you need it.
  • I will be writing a book that will cover the tour.
  • I'll also conduct video conferences and webinars.
  • Additionally, I will also conduct workshops for groups and be willing to travel to you to discuss it with small or large groups.
  • Finally, I have already had some interest for others to use the concept. So I will be discussing the trail with a number of locations such as parks, botanical gardens, colleges, and business headquarters around the country to help them create the trail so it can be offered locally to hopefully almost anyone.

In short, this is my life's purpose and I want to share the wonders of a life purpose with as many people as I can. There is nothing I'd rather be doing… Let me know if you have an idea.

My goal is that after investing one to one and a half hours, no matter how they take the journey, the traveler will have insight, tools, and motivation to continue the journey they started and the website, blogs, posts, and ongoing fresh information will keep them motivated throughout their life's journey.

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What are the steps to creating a life's purpose?

As I referred to in the Princeton research previously, while 90% of mankind does not have a Life's Purpose, Fortunately, for the remaining 10%, and for the rest of humanity these people touch, many people do figure it out and take control of their life's purpose. These successful people tend to share common traits; they've taken an honest assessment of their strengths and weaknesses, have defined dreams and accompanying goals, have defined their life's purpose to guide the life choices they make, have created a strategy to make the changes needed, and take the right actions to execute the strategy. They also have the fortitude to relentlessly pursue their plans and have an ability to prioritize their actions, time, and resources.

There are 8 portions of the trail with coinciding rest stops along the path that parallel the primary proven steps to creating a successful life's purpose and plan. Each stop is designed to provide additional material to give added insight to the techniques and a place for the traveler to reflect on their life and work through the logical steps of their journey. Each portion of the trail along with the key objective and a brief summary of the activities for that section follows:

  1. (Stop #1 is) Reflection Road… (Life's Journey Begins With Soul Searching). This Labyrinth allows YOU a chance to take stock of your past and current life experiences and how you will influence your goals.
  2. Goal Gazebo…(Goals Transforms Wishes. Commitments Bond Dreams). The gazebo provides an environment to record and memorialize wishes and dreams and create specific goals to add reality to those dreams that really matter to you.
  3. Purpose Pyramid… (Purpose IS the Purpose Of Life). This secluded retreat area surrounds you with techniques and examples of how to begin creating a life purpose as your guiding light.
  4. Strategic Staircase….(Dreams Without Plans Are Just Fantasy). This staircase and tree house illustrates how to create strategy to make the major changes that may be needed to achieve key goals that you may have difficulty overcoming.
  5. Action Arch… (Results Employs Actions That Become Habits.) This archway to the tranquil garden uses the garden setting to outline the difficult actions that will be required to pursue the strategies. It gives you very specific insight into proven techniques that you can employ.
  6. Perseverance Pond…(Success Requires Persistence, Patience and Perseverance) The solar powered aquaponics pond provides a perfect surrounding to reflect on the attributes that help assure that execution of actions are successful and commitment yields results. It also highlights attributes the hinder success and should be avoided.
  7. Priority Patio… (Life Demands Focused Multiprocessing Not Multitasking) This retreat in the woods visually illustrates the importance of priority setting and involves the traveler in a personal exercise to set their own priorities for execution.
  8. Reflection Road…(Begin Today Don't Wait Until Tomorrow) The journey ends where it began at the reflection road labyrinth where you reflect on the journey ahead and prioritize the next steps of completing your plan.

Each section utilizes a myriad of research, examples, and tools to guide you through that process for yourself

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What support will you have?

By using the simple, one page, personalized tailored guidebook you actually create the beginning of your own plan as you traverse the experience.

Along the journey there will also be guideposts to pull up information on your smartphone to show deep research, examples, and tools. Each of the guideposts are referenced in the guide book for later follow-up. These "guideposts" are also reproduced virtually on the web tour.

Additionally the trail experience uses this website (yinyangtrail.com) to provide research, blogs, examples and tools to help you continue your life's journey long after the walk.

The tour, narration, exercises, and guide posts are chock full of information and related material that if explored in it's entirety could take a great deal of time. Additionally, each traveler has his or her own existing starting point skill set and understanding of setting their life's purpose. While it is impossible for me to tailor the tour to each traveler I have created a "long and short version" for each of the major components of the tour…. You can chose what you do now and what you can follow up on later with the help of the website. I encourage you however to allow enough time to relax and maximize the experience. You can always go back however and fill in the experience off the website.

III.Some background information…

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Let me share a brief background on me...

I've written a number of books on strategic planning and for over 30 years have helped scores of companies and executives create their company strategy and personal life plans.

I've observed a myriad of successes (and failures) that have given me great insight into the keys to success and what to avoid. I'm anxious to share that with you.

Additionally, and probably because of my life's vocation as a strategic consultant, my personal life's purpose is to "HELP OTHERS MAXIMIZE THEIR OWN LIVES". Consequently I am focusing my retirement years on creating and managing the Yin Yang Trail as a way to share and leverage my experiences by helping anyone interested to learn how to create their life's purpose and execute a plan to maximize their life. I truly get great personal satisfaction out helping others with their life's purpose… There is almost nothing I would rather do.

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Where do I start?

Finally as you prepare for your journey on the yin Yang Trail and pursue your life's purpose.

I have 3 "homework assignment questions for you to ponder that as you think about them could reveal elements of your purpose We will explore this in some depth during the journey.

First, What 2-3 things have given you the most joy in your life over the last say 2years. Second, What are the 2-3 things you have done that made you feel really good about yourself in the last 2 years. Third, if you were forced to get off the couch and go do something for 48 hours straight without a break what would it be?.... Some thoughts around these 3 questions might help you hit the ground running.

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When will it be functional & how can I keep abreast of updates?

The material you are reading today is essentially the "soft launch" of background to the tour. As I mentioned earlier I will continue to post material as we complete sections.

Probably the best way to stay current now is to join the Facebook group…Yin Yang Trail Steve Samek where I will post updates and you can network with other travelers. But as I said earlier, I hope to launch the virtual tour in sections starting this winter.

But as I said earlier, I hope to launch the virtual tour in sections starting this winter...please be patient with me. It is primarily me both creating the material and building the trail…And I am suppose to be retired? But as you have probably figured out by now, I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

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So what's with the use of Yin Yang, Prism, and Spectrum in naming The Trail experience?

Ancient Chinese Philosophy describes how apparently opposite or contradictory forces (Yin and Yang) such as light and dark, fire and water etc. are actually complimentary and interconnected to create a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The Yin Yang symbol shows a balance between the opposites with a portion of the opposite inside each element.

Additionally, light, to the naked eye, has no color and is seen only in it's totality. But, passed through a prism, the light is refracted into its individual colors (components) along a spectrum (continuum). This continuum provides and organizing framework to understand and act on the components.

The symbolism of these two concepts becomes a perfect metaphor for helping create a life's purpose and plans to execute it.

Our lives sometimes feel like a cauldron of seemingly opposite forces pulling us in competing directions such as short vs. long term focus, others vs. self, single-mindedness vs. expansiveness. By recognizing the interconnectedness of these forces and articulating a purpose as a prism to organize them into a spectrum of actionable activities we achieve both balance and extreme fulfillment in our lives.

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