How to Live With Purpose w/ Brendan Gallagher

March 13, 2019 | Episode #33
My friend Brendan Gallagher joins us to talk about how to live with purpose, define your values, reflect, & decompress. He also shares a practical exercise!

How to Live With Purpose w/ Brendan Gallagher

Make Life Easier

Brendan Gallagher

  • Brendan serves as the Coordinator for Civic Engagement at the University of Michigan-Dearborn
  • He studied elementary education / student affairs in college
  • He’s got a master’s degree in student affairs / higher education
  • He’s one of the most thoughtful, deliberate folks I know.
  • Brendan uses the techniques we’ll cover in this episode to help students at UM-Dearborn to become more deliberate and purposeful

What does it mean to live with purpose?

  • Living with purpose behaving in ways, and making decisions that are rooted in your values
  • Always asking, What am I doing? and Why am I doing it?
  • Have a plan for what that looks like each day
  • Being deliberate about

Why is living with purpose important?

  • It’s a roadmap for how to live your life. It helps you to stay connected to what’s important to you.
  • We’re conditioned to move all the time, but often without any direction or purpose
  • Define what’s important to you. Be as clear as possible. Live by those objectives.

How do you do it?

1. Define your values | An exercise

This exercise is a quick, simple way of helping you to define your core 5 values.

You’ll need about 20 uninterrupted minutes for the exercise.

  1. Grab the Big Values List from Management 3.0
  2. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Go through the list of values and eliminate half of them.
    1. Don’t linger on any one value. Try to stick to the time limit.
    2. If there’s a value that’s important to you but it’s not listed, add it
    3. If there’s a synonym you prefer, change it
  3. Set another 5 minute timer. Again, cut the list in half.
  4. 5 more minutes again. This time, narrow the list down to the top 10.
  5. Last 5 minutes. From what’s left, identify your core 5.

2. Regular reflection

  • To reflect in a meaningful way, it needs to be connected to your values
  • It’s a bridge between experience and values. It’s where you find your purpose.
  • Build in moments throughout the day / week so you don’t have to rely on remembering to reflect.
  • Your reflections could be journaling, recording, deliberate thought, etc.
  • This isn’t like the contrived, 6th grade social studies reflection questions you had to answer. This is deliberate, purposeful connection with your values and goals.
  • You can ask these reflection questions: What, so what, now what?
    • What just happened?
    • Why was it important?
    • What’s the next step?
  • Especially during positive / happy moments, deliberate reflection helps to build your mental resilience.
    • Can change neruochemistry when you deliberately pay attention to positive things
    • You chemically tag positive experiences in your brain
    • Head back to episode 17 for more on this!

3. Take time to decompress

  • Stems from effective reflection
  • Helps with mindfulness: Being conscious of how you’re feeling
  • Both Brendan and I spend 15-30 minutes reading a book that’s not work-related right before bed
  • Some folks think that stopping work and taking time to decompress is unproductive or lazy. However, it’s the opposite.
  • When your mind has space to wander, good ideas tend to crop up. Try to always have a place to capture those ideas (notebook, digital assistant, etc.).
    • Back in episode 31, we talked about the idea that your brain is meant for creating ideas, not storing them
    • Whenever possible, jot your ideas down somewhere

Organize Your Day, Work with Purpose

Make Work Easier

How to organize your day

  • Time blocking your day is very helpful!
  • We covered this technique in episode 32! Head back there for more.
  • Also, consider establishing a morning routine. More on that way back in episode 6.

Brendan uses Google Calendar

  • Design is important. Choose a colors which reflect your personality.
  • Anything meetings scheduled have at least 30 minutes of buffer time afterward
  • Prepare for the next day the night before. In episode 28, we talked about this from Dan Charnas’ book Work Clean.

I use Outlook as my tool of choice

  • Expand the view of your calendar to 15 minutes to get more flexibility
  • I do also use Google Calendar!

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