Charles Starrett


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Culture consultant & social tech teacher/facilitator at SoulCo & Northeastern University. He/Him. Dad, Harvard and NEC alum, visual thinker, dabbler in ukulele, electronic music, 한국어, and TTRPGs.


Cultivating purpose is doing it backwards

Action comes from purpose. We act for a reason. Maybe for survival, maybe to avoid something we don’t like, or to get something we want. Maybe we act because it makes us feel good, or powerful, or safe.

If we have built up a life for ourselves, purpose is already there. There are reasons why we made the decisions that we did, and why we continue to do what we do each day.

The question isn’t whether our life has a purpose. It has one, but we may not know it.

The question we need to be asking is: are we conscious of why we are living the life that we are living? Are we aware of the motivations that our actions came from and continue to come from?

Trying to “cultivate purpose” without this awareness is like trying to get to a destination without knowing where you’re starting from.

That awareness is step one. Can we become aware of what is motivating us to do what we do, without judging ourselves or trying to change anything (yet)?

Once we are aware of our motivations, of what our purpose has been, then we get to ask the question of whether that is a purpose that is aligned with our values—with the person who we want to be.

If not, then there is work to do to understand how to align our purpose with who we want to be, and then redesign our life, so that we are acting out of our new purpose. That’s how we get our actions to align with our values.

And it starts with taking an honest look at what unconscious purpose got us to where we are, and why we have continued on this path (for now).

13 September 2022

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