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Guiding principles

The core ideas that guide development of this toolbox
The tools and worksheets contained in the Purposeful Life Toolbox are built from three years of focussed research into available literature in the Personal Development and Life Coaching sphere, with a backdrop constructed from the discoveries and learnings I have made over many years of formal and informal Life Coaching and Mentoring.

I have distilled this into a collection of exercises and guiding principles that steer the development of this toolbox in three sections,
(who you are),
(goals and objectives),


Guiding principles for the “Roots” chapter

Your core values are
, by their very nature, elements of the life you would like to live. Core values can be extrinsic and hedonistic in nature, for example lifestyle values, or intrinsic and eudemonic in nature, for example values such as honesty, integrity and grit.
In reality, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us hold core values that are a mix of both extrinsic and intrinsic. For example, the car I drive makes me feel great because it looks good and delivers a good driving experience for me to enjoy (extrinsic), while at the same time it is important to me that the car has low impact on the environment (intrinsic).
Discovering your core values and documenting them in practical ways that indicate what these values mean to what’s important for your life, is a key element of a purposeful life.
Your strengths and skills
help define who you are, as a blend of your character and your knowledge. When you recognize and document your core strengths and skills you have a “starting point” from which to grow and to achieve new goals.
One way to recognize your strengths and skills is to identify those moments when you are “in flow” as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi "
being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost."
Your contribution to society
helps you identify
ways you can bring your strengths, skills and core values into play in order to bring meaningful impact to others.
Your life balance
allows you to consider your life holistically, considering the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual elements of your life and to evaluate how satisfied you are with your life.
Living a life out of balance with your values can impact your energy and stress levels. It can become a source of physical illness. By understanding what a balanced life means to you, you can set growth goals and objectives to improve those aspects of your life where your satisfaction levels are low.
Your work-life requires special focus as you spend most of your adult life either working, studying for work or thinking about working. Even when you sleep, your work experiences “invade” your life.
Designing possible future lives,
by creating
life design candidates
allows you to construct “risk free” future scenarios where you “map out” possible future life directions, bring your life and your work life together to explore the life you might plan for – as a stepping-stone to the “grow” chapter.

Guiding principles for the “Grow” chapter

The essence of growth is a
growth mindset
Your mindset is informed by the beliefs that you hold about yourself. You can switch from a fixed to a growth mindset by reframing situations in such a way that you replace an existing limiting belief with a new, growth-oriented belief – and as you continue to do this, your brain eventually accepts the new belief as a replacement to the old belief.
Goals and Objectives
that you want to achieve come from multiple sources, for example a number of the tools in the “grow” chapter may result in goals that you set.
However, if you try to achieve all your goals at the same time, odds are you will fail at them all. By focusing on goals as long term or short term, setting end dates for the goals, and then “nesting” short-term goals as steps towards a long-term goal, you can the prioritise where to focus first.
You can use the
GROW model (G
, R
, O
, W
- Graham Alexander, Alan Fine, and Sir John Whitmore),
frequently used in business coaching,
to take a goal or objective and develop an effective plan to achieve that goal, firstly by understating your “current
eality”, then brainstorming “
ptions” and finally creating actions plans that you are
illing to act upon.
You can use the
ROSA model
ction) in situations where you have identified a need to change but don’t yet have a goal in mind.
Goal setting theory (Dr. Edwin Locke)
can be applied to a goal to help you create goals that are “high quality” – more likely to be achieved.
The key elements of goal setting theory are Clarity, Challenge, Commitment, Feedback and Task Complexity.

Guiding principles for the “Life” chapter

Use Cases
for the Purposeful Life Journal is designed to be used either stand-alone (to discover your “roots” or to start your “Growth” journey) or in conjunction with a life journalling discipline such as the
or the standalone Purposeful Life Planner.
The Purposeful Life Planner contains worksheets for one month and is designed to support your planning and reflection (journaling) needs for one month at a time.
The Daily Planner and Reflection portal is also built around the concept of a monthly planning and reflection cycle, but is tightly integrated with the exercises and worksheets in this toolbox as well as being integrated with your google calendar and email. Of course, the “downside” here is that uyou are tied to a computer or tablet/phone for your daily planning and journalling.
Agile life planning and journalling
– The powerful life journal is designed to last for one month – so that you start “from scratch” each new month with a fresh new plan – this is in line with the findings of Katy Milkman in her book “
” where she advocates the value of “fresh starts” to inspire new habits and routines.
In her words: “
Fresh starts increase your motivation to change because they give you either a real clean slate or the impression of one; they relegate your failures more cleanly to the past; and they boost your optimism about the future” Katy Milkman. “How to Change.”
At the end of each month’s reflection you:
Identify any actions not yet completed from the prior month
Calibrate your expectations for what you can deliver for the next month based on your prior month progress considering also your life balance status for the previous month
Review and update the goal planner and objective planners (from the Purposeful Life Journal) accordingly to revise activities and planned completion dates
Create a new copy of the Purposeful Life Journal from the master worksheet
Transfer across to the new planner all open actions from the previous month plus those actions from your objective planners that you have planned for the new month
Transfer across to the
Future Task list
all open actions that you have decided to defer to a future month.
Rituals and habits
can be formed and broken through conscious effort around the four laws of behaviour change (Atomic Habits – James Clear)
Cue (the trigger for the habit)
Craving (the need that is then triggered)
Response (the action that addresses that need)
Reward (the satisfaction from the response)
Effective learning
is based on practices of reflection, including by developing practices that encourage reflection and testing of what you read or watch.
In the words of Peter Brown -
“Repeated recall appears to help memory consolidate into a cohesive representation in the brain and to strengthen and multiply the neural routes by which the knowledge can later be retrieved.”
Make it Stick – Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel).
I have created the
Learning Primer
, in conjunction with the
Learning Wishlist
to support your learning journey with quizzes that you set for yourself to help move your learning from short-term, to long-term memory.
The approach for this Purposeful Life Journal shares many of the principles of
Bullet Journalling
as described in The Bullet Journal Method – Ryder Carroll. For example:
The system (task list, journal, planner)
Migration (monthly cycling)
Collections (tools in the Purposeful Life Journal)
Future Log (
Future task list
in the Purposeful Life Toolbox)
Rapid logging (using the same notation as Bullet journaling)
Energy audit
reviews to help manage energy levels.

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