The 5 Stories Exercise: Gain Clarity Around What You’re Great At And Confidently Apply It To A Career You Love


When thinking about “what makes us happy”, health & fitness pros often look into the future for new solutions to existing problems. If only I had more clients… If only I had more time… If only I was more successful. But what if you could leave the “if onlys” at the door, and look into your past for real tangible clues? That’s what this article will help you do. In 5 easy steps you can figure out what makes you feel accomplished and satisfied, backed by evidence, so you can confidently build a career you’ll love.


Building the career of your dreams means that you need to have a dream to begin with

If you’re unclear about what is that you really want — or what really makes you happy – you’re going to find it really challenging to define your dream career, let alone find it.

Yet figuring out what you want to do is hard.

It’s very common for health & fitness pros to feel restless in their current place of work and only have a vague idea about what changes may make the greatest impact.

Taking stock of your passions, your motivations, and what makes you tick is a vital aspect of finding your dream career, yet it’s the most frequently skipped step in any job search.

Understanding yourself helps you apply a focused approach

Even if you don’t have an itch to change jobs, insights into how you operate can help you improve your current situation and make a bigger impact.

It can help you:

  • See what you love doing (so you can do more of it),
  • Notice what you’re great at (so you can make a difference), and
  • Decide how you want to spend your precious time (so you can reach your true potential).

The 5 Stories Exercise

The 5 Stories Exercise is one of our favorite ways to help health & fitness pros find their passions, their purpose in life and, ultimately, a pathway to a fulfilling career.

It will help you figure out what’s most important to you so you can define the direction that you want to go.

Step 1.
Download your 5 Stories Workbook

We made a printable and fillable workbook you can use to work through this exercise. In the end, you’ll have a:

  • Concrete understanding of what you love doing + what you’re great at,
  • List of career options where you could apply yourself,
  • Contact list of top experts, and
  • Ways to confidently test drive your chosen career.

You can download your FREE 5 Stories Workbook for Health & Fitness Pros here:

Step 2.
Make a list of your accomplishments

Take about 10 minutes to generate a list of the things you enjoyed doing and the things you did well. Consider various areas of your life (professional life, personal life, hobbies, interests etc.) and various life stages (youth, adolescence, and adulthood).

If it helps, you can scan your life from the earliest meaningful moment you can remember, to the most current one.

Dig deep and try to come up with a list of 10 accomplishments. These things don’t have to be meaningful to others, they have to be meaningful to you.

Don’t discount failures. You can still be proud of the work you did – and you could have enjoyed putting in the effort – even if the result isn’t what you wanted.

And if you’re shy about writing down what you’re great at: remember, no one else ever has to read this.

If you want, you can write your accomplishments on a table like this:

You can download your FREE 5 Stories Workbook for Health & Fitness Pros here.

Don’t worry about the last two columns for now. We’ll be filling them out in the upcoming steps.

Step 3.
Write down why each accomplishment matters to you

Think about each accomplishment.

How did it make you feel and why was that important to you?

What gave you a sense of accomplishment? What about that made you proud?

Write down a couple key thoughts in the second column of your Top 10 Accomplishments table. You can keep this brief for now. We’ll be diving deeper into a handful of your accomplishments in step 5.

Again: it doesn’t matter if this accomplishment means anything to anyone else. It only matters what it means to you.

Step 4.
Rank your accomplishments

After you’ve come up with a list of accomplishments, rank them in order of how important they were in your life.

If you’re feeling stuck between any of your options, we recommend using the tournament technique where your accomplishments have to compete for the top spot.

This is what this might look like:

You’ll find a blank copy of the tournament bracket in your 5 Stories Workbook for Health & Fitness Pros.

Once you run your accomplishments through the tournament bracket, you’ll be able to mark your top five accomplishments from 1 to 5 in your Top 10 Accomplishments table.*

(*While you can precisely rank all 10, we will be diving deeper into the top 5 accomplishments in the next step.)

And, if you want to read more about this prioritization tactic, you can check out this article: The Tournament Technique: Here’s How To Prioritize What Really Matters In Your Health And Fitness Business

Step 5.
Write about your top 5 stories

Dive even deeper into your top 5 accomplishments and write 1-2 paragraphs about each. Let go of perfection here and write freely for 15-20 minutes.

Describe what you did, how you did it, the skills you used, and why it made it into your top 5 accomplishments of all time.

Again: no one else has to read this. The more liberal you are with your writing, the more discoveries you’re likely to find.

We’ve provided space for you to write your top 5 stories in your workbook.

Step 6.
Look for patterns

After you’ve written stories about your top 5 accomplishments, assess them. What do they have in common?

You might be surprised by what you find.

For example, you might find that you are especially great at empowering people. But it’s something you’ve always done and have taken it for granted.

I mean, doesn’t everyone make people feel good about themselves?

It might be that you’ll be unhappy in a career that doesn’t allow real, human connection. And you, after reflecting, you might realize that your desire for freedom, which has taken you online, has actually removed you from what really makes you tick: face-to-face conversations that extend beyond work.

Again, you can note your common themes in your 5 Stories Workbook for Health & Fitness Pros.

We provided a space for you to write any thoughts that come to mind, along with a cool Cloud Diagram you can use to notice the overlap:

Here’s what a completed Common Themes Cloud Diagram might look like:

Step 7.
Make a list of your skills

Many skills are transferable, so get creative and don’t limit your possibilities based on your current job.

For example, if you’re a youth soccer coach, beyond your sport- specific knowledge, you’re also probably pretty good at:

  • Managing key relationships (hardcore parents can be the toughest),
  • Planning and organization (somebody’s got to remember the oranges!),
  • Instructing and leading (reigning in a group of twelve year olds isn’t for the faint of heart),
  • Communicating (so everybody’s on the same “playing field”),
  • Time management (getting 18 youngsters up, fed, and to the field before the tournament semifinals? May the odds be ever in your favor),
  • Decision making, especially under pressure (What do you mean my dear Samantha isn’t starting?)

You can list your key skills in your 5 Stories Workbook for Health & Fitness Pros.

Think of transferrable skills and open up your door to future opportunities

Step 8.
Brainstorm a few potential career options

Looking at your common themes, and your skills, brainstorm roles or careers that may satisfy you.

For example, if you’re looking to make a transition into a health & fitness company and one of the common themes you came up with is sharing resources with others, and you’re really skilled at managing key relationships, business development might be a great fit for you.

Adding value to other peoples’ lives is a great way to establish – and grow – key relationships.

You can brainstorm your career options in your 5 Stories Workbook for Health and Fitness Pros.

Step 9.
Have conversations with people who are doing what you’d like to do

After coming up with a few ideas, set up conversations with people in various roles and industries to:

  • See if your common themes and skills match up,
  • Figure out what they did to get where they are (and what their current day-to-day activities look like), and
  • Discover if you really want the role (and would be well-suited to succeed).

We recommend making a list of believable* people with demonstrated competence** for the roles you’re most interested in, and reaching out to them to see if you can interview them.

*Believable people are people who have repeatedly and successfully accomplished the thing you’re looking to achieve, who have a strong track record with at least three successes, and have great explanations of their approach.

**Demonstrated competence means that they can demonstrate their “authority” or “expertise” with consistently high-level performance.

You can capture your list and contact information in your FREE 5 Stories Workbook for Health & Fitness Pros.

Here’s what this might look like:

The key here is not to ask for a job, but to simply ask to hear their story.

The former can put people on defense, while the latter can put people at ease.

Here’s a template you can use to reach out, or you can use one of your own:

You can find this template in your 5 Stories Workbook for Health & Fitness Pros.

If the person says “yes” stay true to your word. Show up prepared, ready to listen, and, we repeat, don’t ask for a job.

If you ask for it, they’ll be reluctant to give you any leads. No one likes to feel like they’re being used, or worse off, manipulated. You said you were interested in hearing their story, after all.

If you don’t ask for it, and they see your potential, there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll come to mind if any opportunities should arise. Plus, it’s not uncommon for the people you interview to think of an opportunity or a connection for you that might be helpful and willingly share it on their own accord.

Now, if the conversation goes well and it didn’t naturally flow into future possibilities, you might ask something like:

Notice that the above is not assumptive. You’re not asking for a job, you’re looking for guidance to find a job like this, somewhere. It might seem small, but it makes a BIG difference.

While not every conversation will lead to an opportunity, with enough genuine conversations, you’ll be surprised where you end up.

A few suggestions

Here are some considerations as you complete the steps above.

Take your time

While “doing” the actual exercise may take an hour or so, don’t expect to finish it in one go. This typically takes people several days – or weeks – to complete.

Thinking about what matters most to you is a big deal. So, give it the time it deserves.

Capture ideas as they arise

Carry a notebook with you – or create a note in your phone – and jot down learnings as they come up.

Some of your best ideas and “aha moments” likely come in the space between the “doing,” when your mind is free to wander.

We’ve also left space for you to capture your thoughts in your 5 Stories Workbook for Health & Fitness Pros.

Share your stories with your friends and loved ones

Having a third party listen to you speak will help you:

  • Highlight + clarify your strengths,
  • Notice your energy + what really excites you,
  • Get outside feedback + ideas,
  • Ask more questions + illuminate more answers, and
  • Think of ways you might apply them.

Film yourself talking about each story

If you feel uncomfortable sharing your story with others, that’s totally cool. Not everyone has a desire to talk about such personal things.

If that’s the case for you, we recommend recording yourself as you talk about each story and rewatching it as if you were a third-party observer.

Doing so will help you notice your own energy levels, ask yourself curious questions, and gain more clarity.


After figuring out what gives you a sense of accomplishment and highlighting your skills, experiment. There’s a big difference between thinking you’ll like something and knowing you like something.

See if you can shadow someone, volunteer a few hours per week, or, if you have the time and resources, do a short-term project or an internship.

If you can try doing the role, even for a short period, you can know – for sure – when you’ve found something that is worth “giving your all.”

Knowing what makes you tick will help in many domains

Figuring out what you’re great at, what you enjoy doing, and what gives you a sense of accomplishment will help you in many domains.

Fill out the Venn Diagram in your 5 Stories Workbook for Health & Fitness Pros and use it as a filter for future opportunities to see if they’re a fit (or not).

If you find a career that meets all three criteria, hold on to it.

It will make it easier to identify roles that are suited to your strengths, while realizing why others may not be a fit.

If none of your important stories were work-related, it might be a sign that another role – or industry – is more suited to you.

Or, it might be that you have a job workview, and that most of your enjoyment and satisfaction comes from outside of work.

(If you’re unsure of your workview, you can take our Workview Assessment here. It’s completely free, and it takes less than 2-minutes to take).

You’ll be better able to articulate your value in the traditional job-hunting route (resumes, cover letters, and interviews) as well as the entrepreneurial route (to clients, colleagues, partners, and investors).

And, most importantly, knowing what elements are “musts” for you will help you find careers that will give you satisfaction and happiness.

Want to learn more?

Then check out Dr John Berardi’s one-of-a-kind book – winner of the 2021 Axiom Business Book of the Year – Change Maker: Turn Your Passion For Health and Fitness into a Powerful Purpose and a Wildly Successful Career.

The health and fitness industry is huge, highly competitive, and often confusing to navigate. Dr. Berardi helps you make sense of the chaos, laying out a clear roadmap to help you achieve both personal and professional success.