I started Purpose Accelerator 2 days after I quit my job, 2 months after my mom died and 2 years after I graduated college.
Then, two weeks into the program I fell asleep on the subway and missed my stop. I ugly cried my entire walk back to the Airbnb as the gravity of everything that just changed settled in. They say you never become a true New Yorker until you’ve cried on the subway. I passed that rite of passage on the second week.
Everyone’s journey is different and I’ll explain why mine was so filled with tears. Hopefully you aren’t scared off by my emotional ride, but understand that the Purpose Accelerator program is just as much a personal exploration as it is professional. And like any journey, if you fall asleep, you might miss your stop.
When my mom died, I felt untethered. I was my mom’s main support for the last few years and for the last six years my life revolved around being there for her. Staying at home during college, I found work afterward in the city. I had plans to travel the world, work in China, go to law school, you name it, but my first priority was to be there for my mom. It was easier in a sense because I had narrowed all my potential stops to Portland’s geographic parameter.
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Now, even the London tube was an option.
SO, COMPLETELY OUT OF THE BLUE, I CONTACTED JEFF, THE CO-FOUNDER OF PROJECT X.
I came across the Project X email newsletter and Jeff graciously responded to my unsolicited outreach. After our conversation, and with absolutely no original intent to do so, I quit my job and looked up New York’s subway system.
Coming to New York was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I needed time to process losing my mom and my sense of purpose and to bring some direction to my newly expanded map. The program gave me the space and the supportive community to explore those deeper questions of fulfillment, purpose, and living life with intention.
PEELING THE LAYERS
Jeff led activities that peeled back the layers of our ‘wants’ and ‘shoulds’ down to what truly matters to us. Then, we learned specific guidelines on how to better navigate those distilled needs.
Instead of 5- or 10-year plans, we learned that forecasting in three-month increments allows us to be more responsive to our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world. And a way to experiment with this world is via the MVPs (Minimally Viable Products). It’s the terrifying technique of simply throwing out our imperfect ideas into the world to see what happens.
Since VUCA and MVPs are basically different acronyms for anxiety, having a supportive community to navigate it all with was both disarming and empowering. The people I met and the community we created together became the most valuable aspect of this program to me. I developed new life-long friendships, partly because I got to know my cohort more intimately than some of my old friends. Hard not to, when you tell everyone your story on the second day.
Speaking of stories, the mentors that shared theirs and worked with us are FAB (fascinating, admirable, and bold). I made that one up. Their experiences challenged my thinking and inspired me to pursue life with greater ambition. I met with two mentors outside the program, and I have pages full of notes and insights from their stories and our conversations that I still reference regularly.
Now back in Portland, Oregon, I am still the quintessential millennial sitting in a coffee shop scouring the web for opportunities. But this time, I have guiding notes accompanying a wider but clearer map. My three-month plan has a starting point and I’ve decided not to add the Beijing Subway just yet.
Vibha Chokhani, a Purpose Accelerator mentor said to me, “Choices are in life’s moments. If you miss the moment, you miss your opportunity to make a choice.”
It all begins with awareness.
WE NEED TO BE AWARE IN THE PRESENT SO WE DON’T MISS OUR CHANCE TO CHOOSE THE LIFE WE WANT.
If we fall asleep, we might miss our stop.
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