“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl
This week, our son got the university acceptance letter he had been waiting for – which not only marks another important transition ahead for him but also signifies an important transition for the rest of our family – a move to a new province, career changes for both my husband Colin and I and a new school for our daughter. Many of us face multiple transitions in our lifetime – schooling (i.e. finishing high school, changing schools); career (i.e. job change, retirement); relationships (i.e. marriage, divorce, death); parenthood; moving; health (i.e. injury, illness, surgery). Some transitions may be forced upon us but the ones set with intention are likely rewarding changes that lead to personal growth.
As I was reflecting on these imminent transitions, I came upon a webinar through the University of Minnesota Alumni Association titled Repacking On Purpose – Managing Life Transitions. The guest speaker Richard Leider is a best-selling author and founder of Inventure – The Purpose Company. The webinar was about an hour long and packed with great information that really ties into this idea of transitions, change and life purpose. I appreciate they offered the webinar recording through youtube and thought I would provide a summary of what I took away.
The good life
Leider defines the ‘good life’ as place, people, right work and purpose. Many constructs on this theme exist, such as The Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields, where he uses the analogy of 3 buckets being contribution, connection and vitality. Another example is the 75 year Harvard Grant & Glueck Study that has come to one conclusion:
“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
Leider focuses much on his work around purpose, this thing we should live our life by. He interviewed people aged 65 and older and came to 3 broad conclusions when asked what they would do if they could live their life over:
1) To be more reflective, step back & look at the big picture – I would phrase this as “living with intention”.
2) To take more risks when it comes to works & relationships; to pursue a “calling” rather than a “job/career”. He went on to say that 60% of our most precious resource, time, is used up working.
3) To live with meaning & purpose; contribute beyond ourselves.
The phases of transition
Richard illustrates transition as going through these phases, where a trigger pulls us into the loop:
Reflect – need rest & solitude in order to look at what is happening
Connect – have a ‘sounding board’ to talk it out
Explore – look at options & how to move forward
Choose – narrow down the areas you want to consider more
Repack – look at what to keep versus remove to move forward (i.e. examine your calendar)
Act – make small steps forward
In order to move through these phases, Leider elaborates on some key ingredients:
- Reframe your time boundaries & get used to saying ‘no’
- Rediscover your hidden gifts that combine your passion & values
- Reclaim your purpose & feel energized
- Reinvent your work & look for new ways to add value
- Resharpen your curiosity through exploration & research
- Repack your relationship bags & have real conversations with others
- Revise your outlook on a ‘good life’
- Reflect daily, even for 5 minutes (can be done through meditation or stillness)
Two things to consider from Leider’s work
1) Are you ‘busy’ or ‘engaged’?
We can’t determine our value by our level of busyness.
2) Who are the ‘sounding boards’ in your life?
He describes 4 types – the committed listener (i.e. a friend, spouse), the catalyst (inspire curiosity i.e. a mentor or coach), the wise elder (i.e. spiritual leader or grandparent) and the wise younger (youth can offer a different perspective i.e. a mentee or child).
A purpose driven exercise
Look to the people who know you best, from 1 to 5 people. Ask them to send you what they see as your gifts and talents. You may even want to keep it to their top 3 thoughts. In times of transition, the people in your life will want to help and support you on your journey. This is a great way to start!
In closing, words from Richard Leider, “we are all an experiment of one”.
New York Times – Replacing Work: A New Purpose Can Lift Your Emotional Well-Being
Richard Leider & Alan Webber – Life Reimagined
Robert Waldinger – What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness
The Good Life Project Radio – Podcast Episodes
Viktor Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning