Everyone wants to create the Good Life. Even though we don’t usually talk about its ingredients, we generally agree on what it takes to live it. When asked, most Americans describe the Good Life in terms of being healthy, having financial freedom, having the time to do what is important and having a sense of purpose.

Finding Purpose During Transitions

My friend Richard Leider is the leading expert and writer on the components and role of purpose in our lives. Leider describes the Good Life not as a destination, but rather as an ongoing journey—one marked by a series of transitions. Very often these transitions are a time of tremendous insecurity. They are most often the result of “trigger events” which are dramatic and often create unexpected change.

Examples of negative triggers include the death of a loved one, a major illness, a significant financial loss, loss of a job, or your or a spouse’s impending retirement. Positive triggers can also cause uncertainty and include birth or adoption of a child, relocation to a new home, a new job, or even a significant financial gain.

These positive or negative events may or may not be in your control and can throw off the equilibrium in your life. To move through this process and achieve a new balance, Leider argues that people must make decisions that often require difficult trade-offs among the core components.

Transitions Have Phases

Leider asserts that these transitions are made up of three phases:

Unpacking, or letting go of the way things used to be.  Unpacking involves sorting out what is really important and makes you happy from what is not essential and holds you back.

Repacking, or taking hold of the new way that will allow you to attain the Good Life. Repacking involves the clarification of values, new goals, and the discovery of new tools for getting there. It is the process of mapping out the road ahead—one that will genuinely take you where you want to go with the life essentials you want to bring along the way.

Limbo is a state of flux and uncertainty between unpacking and repacking. It is a period where your vision of what you want your future to be is uncertain, or where you lack focus on the most critical aspects that will get you closer to your Good Life.

The message in this approach is to remain flexible, to examine the sources of what is truly satisfying in your life, and then maybe hardest of all…being willing to try out new sources of satisfaction. New job, modern living space, new hobbies, and new relationships, just to name a few.

Understanding Your Purpose

I see the challenges posed by transitions every day with my coaching clients. Most people seek me out when they are either anticipating or experiencing a significant change. Younger people usually want to identify work that they would enjoy. Middle-aged clients are looking to discover a sense of meaning beyond a paycheck to underwrite college expenses and a mortgage. I have developed some tools that help people realize their life purpose and then learn how to apply it to all the critical areas of their life.

Discovering a life purpose is the key to the Good Life and requires a willingness to invest in oneself, the courage to unpack from a less meaningful routine and to repack for a new and satisfying life of adventure.


Peter Sherer is a nationally recognized career coach who offers clarity and confidence to mid-career and senior executives in transition. His rigorous assessment tools enable his clients to identify a meaningful assignment that uses all of their skills and experience in just two short days. Learn more and get in touch with Peter today.