Creating Life on Purpose

Shortly after I started coaching, I decided to name my company Life on Purpose. The name just landed in my head and I decided to go with it. Those who know me will attest to the fact that I like to trust my intuition and I am not one to over think things.

So here I was with Life on Purpose. I liked the way it had a few interpretations. One being the clients could work with me to create the life that they want. But I also felt that the word purpose resonated because it means a life that has value and impact.

As I have mentioned before, I came to coaching after spending about 13 years in fundraising. I never intended to grow up and be a fundraiser – and really I don’t think anyone did. I graduated with a Master of Library Science, couldn’t find a job in an actual library, and fell into my first job as a fundraising researcher. Really I was just happy to have my first grown up job and salary. As a bonus, I liked the work I did profiling potential donors.

Overtime I came to see the bigger picture – the fact that this was work that made a difference in people’s lives – that it was work with purpose. And this is what made me stay around for the long haul.

We were helping connect charities to donors and this meant that hospitals could save more lives, more students could afford to go to university, and women’s shelters could provide shelter and transition to a new life. This is powerful stuff.  

And then in 2006 I realized that what was just as powerful was that we helped connect donors to charities. At the APRA Conference in Orlando I heard a keynote by Dr. Claire Gaudiani, the author of The Greater Good: How Philanthropy Drives the American Economy and Can Save Capitalism. Dr. Gaudiani showed how Americans are not generous because they are rich, but rich because they are generous.

Of course, prior to that I knew that people benefitted from giving. However, it really started to crystallize for me in that moment that we were helping the donors as much as the charities. Since that time I have also come to see how giving can make people happier and even healthier.     

And it was this connection to the purpose of this work that made it a career I loved for over a decade.

Recently I read the book Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth by Ed Diener and his son Robert Biswas-Diener. They tell a story about a hospital janitor who finds the purpose in her work. She knows that keeping the place clean prevents infection and therefore keeps patients safe. She also takes the extra time to rearrange the photos for immobilized patients so they always have something new to look at. This is a person who makes each day extraordinary.

What an inspiration! I invite you to step into 2011 with this perspective. How can I find purpose in the work I do each day. Would love to hear where it takes you.

© 2010 – 2011, Janice Cunning. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this posting if you include my contact information. Please contact me if you wish to reprint any portion of it in any periodical or on a website

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About Janice Cunning

As a certified coach and fundraiser, I am passionate about partnering with people and teams to increase their personal and professional Joy Quota.


  1. jawad sajwani says:

    nice one.

    it seems we coaches end up on the path of coaching when each one of us realizes their life of purpose. In my case it was being authentic, all my life i have acted authentically even though it has cost me a lot of pain but being the stuborn person i am i dont want to change. then through my coaching i wanted others to live their lives the way they are, hence, i created authenticity. in my iew if poeple started living their lives their way and not as someone else wants them to this world would be a heaven.

    so in 2011 you work on helping other find their life of purpose and i will with clients to live thier authenticity. I guess we both will meet in the end :))

    happy new year

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