In 2017, North America witnessed its first total solar eclipse in almost four decades. Everyone was listening to Ed Sheeran’s “The Shape of You” on Spotify while sipping a Unicorn Frappuccino from Starbucks.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engagement rumors were the talk of the town. It was an empowering time for women. “Feminism” was the Word of the Year, and Time Magazine broke the mold when they crowned the #metoo movement as their Person of the Year.
And four years ago, I was a whippersnapper podcaster determined to reach as many expats as possible to help them maximize their experience abroad. Ok, some things never change, but my podcasting skills sure did (cringe — talk about change shame).
This week, I’m doing something very different. I’ll look back on episode 32: 5 Tips for Finding Your Purpose and compare that advice against my current, evolved perspective. I’ll also expand on those past key points and reframe purpose expectations to fit our modern world.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- Society’s golden carrots
- Cleaning out your dirty thoughts
- CBT: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Inward vs. outward focus
- Figuring out the “how”
Listen to the Full Episode
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POP-UP CHALLENGE ALERT! 3 easy steps to win a prize (plus, you’ll get all the warm n’ fuzzies that come with clarity). 1. Identify what’s the impact you’re craving to make; 2. Take one action to bring you closer to that goal; 3. Tell me about it. See? Super easy.
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- Sundae’s Facebook Group – Expats on Purpose
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Full Episode Transcript:
Hello. It is 8:00 am in New York, 2:00 pm in Johannesburg, and 7:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-orientated coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations. I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
It is that time of year again. If you are a globally mobile family and you are starting your kids in the new school year, you might be asking yourself, “Alrighty then. Now that everybody is set up in their job and in school. What about me, what’s my purpose here?”
And I was asking myself this question. I know that there are many accompanying partners out there who are facing this or you might not even be an accompanying partner but you’re still asking, you’re asking yourself the question: What about my purpose? Am I going in the right direction? What do I want to do that’s more meaningful? And my instinct was, y’all, I have five years of podcasts and every single year I do a huge series on purpose so I’m just going to reshare those because I don’t need to talk about it again. Right?
But then I reflected on my recent episode on learning versus growing and I went back to an old podcast from 2017, four years ago, episode 32. We’re on episode 240 plus right now, 5 tips for finding your purpose. And I asked myself”, “What if I listen to that podcast again and then looked at how I’ve grown, how would I see it differently now?”
So that’s what I’m going to do. I have listened to episode 32 from way back when and I took notes. And today, I’m going to share that with you so you can benefit not just from my growth, my clients’ growth, but the added four years of hard earned experience. So not only does it help me think about the ways in which I see things differently, you’re going to benefit from strategies and perspectives that were already working four years ago but now are going much deeper today.
Okay. And speaking of growth, I’m going to be transparent. I feel really vulnerable sharing excerpts from old episodes because I’ve changed, right? Because I’ve got what I call: Change Shame. And I do have a podcast on that. I’ll make sure I share it in the show notes but I’ve changed. And, of course, I’ve grown as a podcaster in the last 200 plus episodes. So it does feel weird to share it with you, but I’m doing this for you and I do have to say a special shout-out to my listeners, who have been there since the beginning. Thank you for being around even in the starting days.
All right. Here we go.
Let’s start by acknowledging how purpose can feel overwhelming and that’s exactly what I do in episode 32: 5 Tips for Finding Your Purpose, is we look at that face on, here it goes:
“But purpose brings up questions like: What’s the reason I’m on this planet? What am I here to do? Come on, no wonder this feels tough to figure out. Okay, and I’m going to be honest. If I could just tell you that like this, I’d be playing God or fill in the blank of any name you have for a higher power. I am not here to do that, but I’m here to help you do the work so you can discover more purpose and meaning in your life.
Okay, so let’s take some overwhelm from this topic, shall we? Okay, first of all, we’re going to back up. Purpose really, very, very simply is the reason something is done. Okay. So that leads me to the first of five tips. I have for you on getting clear on your purpose to have something meaningful for you.
Purpose is the reason something is done.
So tip 1 for you is to reframe. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by finding your purpose, if you’re struggling with identifying what your purpose is, I want you to think about purpose differently. So tip 1 is reframe. Instead of thinking about purpose, think about impact. Impact is an influence or an effect.
That feels a little easier, doesn’t it?
We’re taking away this idea of, ‘What, I’m here to do in the world I’m in, this country, this place. What am I going to do here?’ To simply looking at impact. Okay, so it’s time to ditch this, “what is the reason I’m alive,” business and do this instead: What kind of positive influence are you craving to make?
Write these ideas down. Most people are hungry to make a positive influence, whether it’s in your own life, or the life of others, or for a specific cause.”
All right. I am with 2017 Sundae so far. I am cringing a little about how new I was at podcasting, but I already mentioned that. But what I have seen in the last four years is that shifting from a “capital P” purpose to impact has been a huge game changer for so many of my listeners and clients.
All right, so here’s what I have to say about that next:
“What kind of positive influence are you craving to make? Even if it’s just a little bit. Okay, I literally want you to write down the words on a piece of paper: Impact I’m craving to make. So write that on a piece of paper and start a list.”
All right. Hold on here, Sundae, 2017. Let’s talk about: What positive influence are you craving to make. Now, that is a great prompt and it’s useful for many people. But in reality, if I really think about it, there’s a step that’s missing and stay with me here.
I’m going to call it: Getting Rid of Your Dirty Thoughts.
And I don’t mean those kinds of dirty thoughts. Dirty thoughts are those thoughts that are tainted with shoulds and coulds or expectations from others. Dirty thoughts are thoughts that are driven by self-doubt and imposter syndrome, right? And what do you do if something is dirty? You clean it.
We have to get clear in our heads, and make sure that those things aren’t sticking to our thoughts. And that’s where obviously coaching comes in so well, because that’s what we do, we do thought work. Therapists also do something similar called CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, where the basic principle is we look at your thoughts and how they create emotions and those emotions create your behaviors and that creates the impact of your life.
So the thoughts that we think have an impact on everything else like this chain reaction. So if we’re thinking about, what is this positive influence that we’re craving to make in the world? That’s going to set off a chain reaction. So we need to make sure that our thoughts are clean. And you’re probably asking yourself, “Sundae, if it’s about a positive influence, how this could be a bad thing. This can’t go wrong.” But what we’re looking at is, is it really in alignment with your values or is it like inherited values from other people?
Like your culture, or your parents, or your community, or your work, or whatever, right? Is it what you really want? Because we know how society can dangle this golden carrot in front of us, and it feels so tempting to want to acquiesce and do that because we’ll get rewarded.
So here’s an example of a dirty thought from one of my clients. Again, for those of you who have dirty thoughts, right now, you gotta leave that aside. We’re talking about coaching perspective dirty thoughts, okay? So thoughts that are not in true alignment with what you want and your values. Things like, one of my clients said, “I have to do things to have value.” We drilled down, we found that was the thought that was driving all of her behaviors.
She felt like the impact she had to make was growing her business. And notice the “had to,” that’s a sign about a dirty thought. She realized that she grew up achieving from tiny to adulthood and she felt pretty good every time she got praised for her efforts and recognizing how people treat her differently when she did that. And then when she realized she was actually kind of sick of achieving and was ready to shift gears in her life, she was able to drop this positive impact thing of, “Growing my business,” out of focus. And what she did from the clean thought was her focusing on her health instead.
So you can see how both of those things are great, growing your business is great, health is great, but it is about what the impact you want to make.
One is inherited from other people’s ideas and the other one comes from you.
So that’s how this “positive impact” can take really different directions if you don’t clean up those dirty thoughts. First one is from a clean place. The other is from a dirty one. And you would never know it. Because on the outside both of those impacts look great. Right?
So if you want to do more on your values, we have added a few extra podcasts in the show notes for you to check out because that is definitely something I’ve talked about on and off in Expat Happy Hour for the last five years.
Okay, let’s move on to tip 2:
“Okay. Tip 2 is: Get Specific. Now, I want you to list who or what do you want to impact?
Okay. These can be either inward focused or outward focus.”
All right, so we’re gonna look at Focus here. We’re going to look at Inward Focus or Outward Focus. And in this episode, I go on to give examples of what I mean by inward or outward focus. Like inward is getting bitter, stop over-drinking, boost your self-confidence, deep and spiritual practices. That means when you want to make an impact, are you going to go inward?
The other one is outward things like, do you want to focus on getting control of your finances, volunteer to help the stray animal population in a large city, produce healthy snacks for kids, help expats have beautiful spaces that feel like home. Those are things when you look outward, what kind of impact you want to make.
Inward or outward. And this is really a great way to get the ball rolling. I teach this all the time, it’s very helpful for people and it helps you explore the kind of impact that you’re hungry to make.
And what I think I would add now is: Don’t expect to do outer work, without also doing inward work.
It just doesn’t work that way. So unless you are one of those enlightened ones among Us. This may not apply to you, but if you are a normal person, just like me and they’re always connected. And the reason why I share that is, I want you to prepare for that, because if you’re not doing the inward work, your outward efforts are going to be more limited.
Every time you’re trying to bring something into the world and make an outward impact, you’re tapping into parts of yourself that have never been used before because you’re creating something brand new, right? So for example, for me in the process of coming up with the Wisdom Fusion Project, I had to really stretch myself in new ways and ways that were really uncomfortable. Because as we know from my last episode on Learn or Grow, growth and discomfort come hand-in-hand.
So when you’re doing the work to find more purpose, get ready. Plan for inward and outward work. We can’t do one without the other.
All right, let’s focus. Now on tip 3:
“It’s time for tip 3, and that is to focus. You might say, ‘Sundae, God, all of those ideas were fantastic. I would love to work on all of them. My aging parents, my relationship with my spouse, our family finances, my practice, my kids, my health, my self-confidence, my spiritual practice, all the above.’
And guess what? By wanting to do it all, you’re sabotaging any chance of doing anything well. Okay? We know from research that, although we like to call ourselves multitaskers, that when we truly look at effective methods, so being truly productive, that we need to focus, narrow our focus on doing one thing. So review your list and just pick two, maximum three that light you up.”
All right, so that’s practical right? Pick two or three things that light you up. But now, what I would add reflecting on the last four years is: Just Start Somewhere.
Because what I’ve realized is there are so many times when what you think you want is likely not what you want. And here’s what I mean by that, I had a client who came to me and she wanted me to help her with her business direction, “Am I going to make a pivot or am I going to grow it? What am I going to do?” And she said to me, “I actually thought I would come to you and you would tell me what I should be doing more of.” And at the end of our time together she said she realized that what she really wanted was to do less.
So we started there and because of doing that deep work, remember we talked about these dirty thoughts versus clean thoughts, she realized that doing more was a dirty thought and actually what she wanted to be doing was less. And her life has completely transformed in the best of ways, as a result of it.
Okay. Another client of mine came and said she wanted to run a location-independent business, and our work together was to help her find purpose through this and what would the business be. What really happened is we started there but where she landed. Again, going through the dirty thoughts versus clean thoughts is one session she said, “Actually I want none of this. All I really want is to work on my relationship with myself.” And that was it. We started there and we landed in a completely different space, right?
So when you are going to pick things that light you up, give yourself space to follow them and maybe land somewhere else. And what that means for me is when you’re agonizing, should I do this? Or should I do that? Where do I pick right? Stop wasting your time trying to pick and just get started.
All right, tip number 4 is: identify strategies. You know me, I love me some strategies:
“Okay, so tip 4: Identify Strategies is where it gets really practical. This is the ‘how.’ Okay, this isn’t solving the entire problem. Remember, this is impact, it’s having a positive effect, not solving the entire problem. It’s making a contribution. Okay. And the reason why we’re keeping that way, because we don’t want to stall from overwhelm or not get started because we think, ‘Oh, I can’t do the entire thing anyway.’”
All right, for this tip, I absolutely love the idea of breaking down the overwhelm. And I love the idea of being practical. I’m always a fan of focusing on the how. But what I would add now is that: You Don’t Have to Have the ‘How’ Figured Out In Advance.
As I kind of mentioned before, there’s so many times when I’m working with women and things change. So the how, we wouldn’t even want to have all figured out because they’re going to go in a direction that’s different anyway. And one of my favorite places to be in with a client is at the very start when they say what they want to create and neither one of us has a clue on how we’re going to make that happen.
But it does, it does, right? And that is by doing the work, that’s all we have to do is find out the next step. And one of my favorite quotes from Adrienne Dorison, she says that “Most people think that clarity plus confidence leads to action. But actually action creates clarity. And then that gives you confidence.” So many of us wait to feel confident and clear on something before we take action. We’re so afraid to do anything because we feel like we’re not going to do it right. We’re not crystal clear on all of the steps forward.
But what I’ve seen in my work is when someone says, “Hey, this is the thing that I want and I have no clue how to figure it out.” That is where the magic happens. I’ve even had clients go to other people who are living the life that they’re hoping to live, or they’re doing the project they want to do and they say, “Hey, we’ve got something in common. Both of us have a passion about this thing. You’ve done it, I haven’t. What advice do you have?”
And that courage to step out and take action so that you get clarity rewards you with confidence in discovering the right next step.
All right, let’s see what Sundae has to say, 2017 version of what’s her fifth tip:
“That leads us to tip 5: Commit to Action.
Now, all of these are great ideas until we actually do them or don’t do them. So what are you going to do to take action? I want you to get really serious with yourself. By when will you take action on the two or three ideas that you listed? Okay, write it down.
Okay, let’s look at where we’ve been so far.”
All right, wait a minute, Sundae, hold the phone. Okay, I’ve been here before. You just kind of threw that out there. What’s the deadline? Write it down, deadline is set. And then, you know what happens? You know what happens, most people don’t do it, then they feel like crap. Right? So it’s not that simple by just writing it down. And what I’ve seen in the last four years is that people who write things down, have busy lives, messy lives, or fears, things that hold them back. So what we need to do in addition to writing it down is to do a better job at understanding how habits are formed. We need to do a better job at understanding, how do people change behavior?
And I’ve done several podcasts on this and I’ll make sure we put them in the show notes. But when we can plan for a cycle where we say, “Okay now I am in the cycle of awareness. I now know, this is a problem or this is the direction I’m going and this is what I want to do,” right? That’s the knowing that awareness. But now is the next time, it’s action and then being consistent with the action and then having a relapse and coming back from the relapse. And then shortening the time from relapse to action. These are things I don’t think people give each other enough space to really understand.
I have clients that I send diagrams about habit formation and change and they’ve got it, they see the cycle right there in it, they’re doing the spiral, right? And then three months later, they’re frustrated themselves because they’re not taking as much action as they want to or they’ve relapsed. And I say, “Hey, remember change? Remember the cycle?”
And it takes that reminder, the internalization of, “Oh, this is part of me refining my strategies, this is me showing up in a messy life. This is me getting back on track,” right? And I think if we do a better job at understanding, how we really form habits, how we create accountability, how we rebound from relapse, then we can write it down without neglecting those important next steps.
So that’s the growth that I’ve had in the last four years of understanding. I can’t just let someone write it down and then leave them unprepared. I feel an obligation to say, “And here’s what might happen next and don’t feel like crap if it does.”
Also in my programs, we work on creating accountability and structure within our process together and among the cohort and it like boosts people’s goal attainment from maybe “never going to happen,” to 65% as high as 90%. So those things matter. Getting savvy on how do we commit to action and then what might happen next.
All right, as you can see 2017 Sundae offered some really tangible tips here. 5 simple tips, I did deliver on what I promised and it’s all true. But as I have sort of absorbed my own growth and witnessed my clients over these last four years, I know that this is not as tidy in real life.And that’s why I wanted to do this today. Because I want you to know that too. It’s so easy to get some tidy advice from the internet, in a podcast, and article, or from some guru and you’re all motivated to try it. But then when you get into the details, it’s not working as simply as you were promised because the lived experience that we all have is actually messier.
It’s deeper, it’s bigger and no matter how outwardly focused our purpose is, it’s also internal. And you know what, it’s an act of courage and it’s totally worth it.
When I think about purpose, what I know is inevitable is that each of us need to discover what are our dirty thoughts? Along the way we learn, “Hey, I could probably be taking better care of myself so that I have the energy and focus to really do this.” And then we discover, “Hmm,” in the messiness of it all, “There are some needs that aren’t getting met that are important to me, and I’ve got to renegotiate them.” This sort of coming to terms of how it works around here, can’t work like that anymore. And then you do it. You move forward, and you ride those ups and downs and along the way, you learn who you’re becoming.
And all of that messiness and this commitment to finding more purpose and meaning is all worth it, because it shifts the trajectory of your life.
Not tidy, but delicious.
Thank you for joining me on this dual walk through growth and purpose. I would love to hear from you. What resonated and what other questions do you have about purpose after listening to this? Check out the episodes that I mentioned in the show notes and reach out on my website, sundaebean.com or any of my social media platforms or even just respond to my newsletter and let me know. I do read each and every email that comes to me and it delights me when I get messages from people who are listeners of Expat Happy Hour. So please reach out.
You’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour with Sundae Schneider Bean, thank you for listening. I’ll leave you with the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “It is not length of life, but depth of life.”
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