“Living in the place you belong, with the people you love, doing the right work, on purpose.” This is how Richard Leider and David Shapiro define “the good life” in their book Repacking Your Bags.

This statement motivated my move to Austin 20 years ago. I knew there was a place that would work better for me than my hometown. I wanted a larger stage to practice my art. I wanted a fresh start where I could create my own, new persona. I followed the formula to the letter, and gained happiness, satisfaction and a feeling that I had—finally—made it. Here’s how:

Living in a place you belong – My sister and her husband had moved 20+ years before to the Dallas Metroplex. I considered long and hard whether this was the “place I belong.” I arranged a speech there, then spent two weeks networking and making sales calls. That city didn’t feel right to me. My nieces and nephew had all attended the University of Texas at Austin. They urged me to consider the political climate, the natural beauty, the hill country, Lady Bird Lake and the culture of Austin.

I arranged a Look-See Visit where I spent my vacation in January staying with family, and having lunch and coffee with about 6 trainers in Austin that I had met through my Association for Talent Development (formerly ASTD) membership. Each person gave me a part of the Austin story. What I came away with – a sense of optimism, inclusion and opportunity. A pioneering spirit that said, “You can do it!”

With people you love – When I moved to Austin, I knew 5 people – two nieces and their husbands, and a nephew. Another close niece had just finished college and I convinced her to move with me. Then, my son completed college, and he joined me. Now, 20 years later, I am the matriarch of the “Austin Family,” now numbering 27! Even if I didn’t have blood relatives, I would still have my family of friends, clients and business contacts I’ve made over the years – literally hundreds of people. You, too, can create your own community by making and nurturing friendships, and creating “family” wherever you go.

Doing the right work – Now, here’s a tough one. My first coaching experience was for me—trying to find just the right work. I built my business on my skills – training, speaking and writing. I got some great training work with Austin’s high tech companies and governmental agencies. The coaching industry was just getting started in 1997 and it just felt right for me. After 5 or 6 years of struggle, I realized that the topics of Job Seeking and Find Your Passion were my “burning coals.” I began coaching in earnest, and in 2007 changed my business to focus all the effort on coaching. The lesson – finding the right work is a process. Along the way, you’ll do lots of good for the world, and make a living.

On purpose – Living life on purpose feels so much better than drifting – taking whatever comes your way. I’m not suggesting that you make a 5-year plan and stick to it. As John Lennon wrote: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” I’m suggesting that you ask yourself, at every crossroad, “Is this the optimal choice for me now?” I’m also hoping you become a seeker, actively looking for your next opportunity.

Looking back, it’s been an amazing journey. I can truly say I couldn’t have done it without coaches, business contacts, friends and family. I wouldn’t be where I am without personal growth work such as the Landmark Forum. I wish you the best on your journey, and stand ready to help you determine place, people, the right work, and purpose.
PS: Repacking Your Bags was written by two advertising men who wanted something more. Twenty-plus years later, you can get the third edition from Amazon. Enjoy!


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