Posts tagged: Purpose

How to identify your values (and why it matters)

Your values affect every aspect of your life. When you feel stuck, they can help get you out of a rut; when you’re not sure what to do next, values help lead the way toward a meaningful life. There’s only one problem: Many of us draw a blank when it comes to actually defining our values.

That’s partly because values are complex. They are collection of your personal experiences, trials, and triumphs, along with everything that’s influenced your belief system. This includes your friends, family, culture, and education to name a few. Even the books you read and the entertainment you consume actively shape how you define yourself in relation to the outside world.

When I work with clients, it’s my job to help them articulate exactly what drives them. A vague understanding won’t suffice here; we need to really dig in and undertake a discovery process. Ultimately, the
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The surprising power of your life story

The power of our life stories

As anyone who ever attended a high school reunion can attest, your personal identity is fluid. Hairstyles, sports allegiances, and even personalities change over time. (Cue that Simple Minds song Don’t You (Forget About Me).)

Evidence from my own yearbook includes Ryan, a sweet if wildly unmotivated friend who, at age 20, dropped out of college to be a ski bum in Colorado. Fast forward eight years, and Ryan is the CEO of a nonprofit startup dedicated to preserving ecological practices of indigenous communities in Andean South America. I spotted him in Palo Alto with a Bluetooth receiver behind an ear that he once reserved for storing clumsily hand-rolled cigarettes.

Ryan’s personal story is now a successful part of his company’s fundraising and branding efforts. He uses his evolution to demonstrate how apolitical weekend outdoorsmen can become activists. It perhaps goes without saying that his parents are especially fond of this
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How to inject more joy into your day

What's your intention today?

Question: What’s your intention for today?

The quick answer might sound something like: Go to work, or keep the kids clean and fed, or just get through it.

Then there’s the answer beneath that answer: Be able to pay my bills. Maintain order in my day. Hold the dread at bay.

All understandable. Necessary, even. But, in addition, what if we intended to do something that touches our soul? To feel purposeful or loved or delighted. Now that’s something to get out of bed for!

For some of us, the day runs mostly on auto-pilot. For others, it can seem rudderless. Or bland. Or contentious. Those joy-filled days— isn’t that what vacation is for?

Sort of. Vacation is important because it helps us step back and experience life differently. But what about the 360 other days of the year? Don’t you want to inject some joy into those too?

Of course you do. So let’s do
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Whose life is this, anyway?

Are you faking it?

Stuck moment: I don’t get it. I’ve done everything they say I’m supposed to do. Work hard, take breaks, build relationships, and so on — check, check, check. Everybody says I’m winning at life, but I’m just not really happy. Or satisfied. Or something. I don’t know what my problem is.

*   *   *

There’s living life, and then there’s living your life.

Everyone has something to say about it, don’t they? Whether it’s our mother insisting on Friday night dinners, our friends begging us to go to Vegas, advertising tempting us to buy now and save, or society pushing us to climb higher, there’s a constant buzz that can get so loud we can’t hear ourselves anymore.

That’s when we lose our way. So many demands and choices clog our brain that our internal compass goes haywire and we get disoriented in our own lives. We try to tell ourselves we’re
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Advice to my younger self: 20 real-life lessons

A few months ago, we asked you for the most important advice you’d give your younger self. We love how many of you figuratively jumped into Doc’s time-traveling DeLorean to share the one vital thing that you’d whisper into your young, unsullied ear. Thank you.

Here are our favorites, which range from handling finances (sometimes tricky) to heeding your inner voice (sometimes even trickier). Together, these 20 pieces of real-life wisdom provide a guide for how to live without regret. And remind us of how far we’ve come — which makes us want go even
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Unstuck Hero: Because everyone deserves to live with dignity

On November 19, 2011, in the slums of Nairobi, an unusual grand opening was unfolding: The unveiling of the first Sanergy Fresh Life Toilet, a bright blue, hand-painted, port-a-potty–like facility that would soon become a welcome fixture on the busy urban landscape. Hundreds had turned out to celebrate. The Town Clerk of Nairobi cut the ribbon and offered an enthusiastic keynote. Kids lined up to get their faces painted. The excitement was huge — all for a toilet.

The product was humble, but the goal was audacious. David Auerbach and his co-founders at Sanergy — a start-up that they dreamed up as MBA and engineering students at MIT — were testing the notion that they could create economic prosperity while advancing personal dignity for thousands of Kenyans by innovating a new, community-focused sanitation model.

What may seem obvious now from the outside looking in took David six years of seeking out
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How to live and work with purpose

Kristin Walter was a natural pick for our first Unstuck Hero because she chose to carve purpose out of the life she already had.

Unstuck reader Judith reminds us, however, that purpose doesn’t have to be lofty or world-changing.

“Perhaps it’s less about finding your purpose and more about living a life of purpose,” she said. “That’s more challenging, but it’s something anyone can learn to do in every moment of every day. Whether it’s choosing kindness and compassion in interactions with others, respecting the Earth in the choices one makes, or simply doing one’s job mindfully and with joy—yes, joy—whatever that job may be. I actually believe that would lead to the creation of the kinds of workplaces, jobs, and companies we’d all love to be a part of.”

We absolutely agree. And, for more ideas from your fellow Unstuck readers of how to bring joy and purpose to your job, check out How
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Unstuck Hero: How a grilled cheese sandwich saved the day

Getting stuck is part of being human. It’s what we do in response that makes the difference.

Today we launch Unstuck Heroes, a new series of stories about regular people hitting a wall and then finding ways to push through and improve both their lives and the lives of others. These folks serve as examples of how creativity, commitment, and belief can — bit by bit — change the status quo and send positive ripples through the system.

Our first Hero is Kristin Walter, co-founder and executive director of FeelGood, pictured above (left) with co-founder Talis Apud-Hendricks.

What do I want to be when I grow up?
In the fall of 2004, Kristin Walter was a senior at the University of Texas, working toward a double-degree in pre-med and business. Her life was comfortable. She’d grown up in a small tight-knit community, with parents who had deep faith in her abilities, and always encouraged
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A purpose guide for everyone


When we stop listening to the inner voice that tells us who we are and what we value — that’s when we get stuck. When we allow the world to make our decisions for us, our to-do list transforms from planning tool to unwelcome tyrant. We feel busy, but we wonder, “Is this it? Where’s the excitement?”

Sure, we could ditch the day job to write the Great American Novel, or pack our bags for a Peace Corps adventure, but the truth is, we don’t have to go further than our own heart to find what fulfills us. Purpose is, after all, a process of decision-making, of matching your core values with what you do in your daily life.

When you define your purpose and commit to it, wonderful things become possible:

• A sense of integrity and consistency.
• A sense of being in the zone. Life becomes more navigable. Decisions become more
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Finding purpose: 20 true stories

Rumor has it that thinking about purpose is a luxury — an exercise for do-gooders or artistic souls who somehow got caught in finance careers. Purpose doesn’t pay the bills (hey, it won’t even do the dishes), so why bother thinking about it?

Because, plainly put, purpose defines who we are and what we do in life. To prove our point, we tracked down 20 people who shared their stories of when they discovered purpose — and stopped hitting the snooze button. Their enthusiasm is contagious.
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