Thirty New Attributes to Describe the Future You

What if we only have achievement-based goals like top grades, scores, or colleges? Where we only measure our marketable skills, better-paying careers, a beautiful house, and ski trips on school breaks? 

Lifestyle goals often feel more like a video game, accumulating badges and scores, constantly measuring our winnings relative to others. Even community service has traditionally been distilled down to hours. Achievement is about “more,” using a narrow list of externally observable characteristics, which is a much different set of goals and actions than self-development. 

A family friend who is a life coach provided us with a list of work-focused attributes which we edited into these thirty terms, then created the definitions. These help us to consider a more purpose-driven framework for exploring and expressing who we are today and who we want to be.

Try it: the thirty terms and definitions are below. Put them on sticky notes or print them and then organize them into three piles: “strengths,” “aspirations,” and “needs improvement.” Score yourself on a 1 to 5 scale (where 5 is the strongest) for each attribute and share it with a friend to hear their thoughts. Let us know if they helped you reflect more on purpose-driven goals and any new thinking about how you envision your future. Send us feedback if you like them or not, and let us know if we missed anything or if you have any idea of how we can improve!

Purpose-Driven Goal Vocabulary Words

FOCUSINGI have full command of my attention. I consciously direct it toward the present moment and constructive achievements. I steer my attention away from common distractors with care and understanding. I am aware of the direction and strength of my attention and that of others around me. I am useful with my free, unstructured time and avoid multitasking.
EMPATHIZINGI am sensitive, observant and attuned to the feelings of others. I use words and body language to understand and connect with others and respond appropriately. I engage deeply with other people’s feelings, as well as my own, and I forge a connection between the two. I am comfortable sitting with ambiguity, discomfort and uncertainty. I listen closely, trust my intuition and accept others as they are.
DEEP LISTENINGI am an open, easy listener, that you can talk to about anything. I have a natural receptiveness to listen without judgement to understand and learn. I reflect care and comfort and accept what others say while attending to the emotions behind the words.
INSPIRING & MOTIVATINGI motivate others get off their phones and take bold action for the right reasons. I help clarify their intention and connect meaning and importance to this moment. To find the confidence to remove barriers, reduce friction, preventing them from doing what really matters to them.
PERSUADINGI help people consider and weigh decisions and press ahead with confidence. I am trustworthy, thoughtful and positive. Using encouragement and exploring different perspectives, I help others avoid conflict. I practice exploring firmly held beliefs to rise above indecision. I avoid zero-sum-thinking and the trap of defining “right” or “wrong” as a basis for any decision.
EMPOWERING OTHERSI fight alongside anyone who wants help realizing their full, true expression of self. I motivate people to take bold, considered, action, to think and act independently. I help people learn to trust their intuition and forge their unique life path with confidence. I encourage them to find the people that love them for who they are and to love themselves.
MENTORINGI am a champion and crusader for other people’s lives and successes. I am passionate about the long-term development of others. I can sense when someone is open to constructive criticism and guided self-improvement. I help others chart their unique pathway in life, one different from mine. I can connect aspirations for personal growth with the available internal or external resources.
COMMUNICATINGI speak and listen with confidence and thoughtfulness. I am attentive and articulate. I know what to say (and what not to say) and how best to say it. I listen more than I talk. I have good manners and I know how to handle myself well in different situations. I am comfortable asking good questions and disagreeing without offense. I can explain complicated ideas in terms everyone can understand. I find engaging threads of conversation and getting every person involved.
WRITINGI write well in a variety of forms. I express my ideas in organized, engaging terms that people enjoy and remember. I practice the craft of writing to capture and keep a reader’s attention with well-developed characters and a compelling storyline. I know when and how best to use the power of writing as the appropriate form of communication.
ORATINGI am an engaging conversationalist. I am tuned into how people respond to what I am saying and how I am saying it. I project my voice and carry myself with poise. I have a potent vocabulary and ask good questions. I can speak to a wide range of people on a variety of topics including sensitive, polarizing ones with care.
PRESENTINGOn stage in front of an audience I feel at home. I have a comfortable stage presence and well-prepared ideas, narrative and supporting props. I stick to topics that I know well, where I am knowledgeable, passionate and can speak with authority.
STORYTELLINGI create entertaining narratives that appeal to listener’s emotions. I use storytelling traditions and vivid detail to animate characters that listeners respond to. I tell the stories that are worth listening to in ways that engage an audience.
ENGAGING SURROUNDINGSI set the stage for my life. I take care to beautify and personalize my surroundings. I work to align my space with my intentions, to help shape my mood. I seek separate, rich environments for relaxation, social engagement, study or collaboration. I use space to help invigorate and inspire all my senses and align my state of mind with the occasion.
THINKING AND ACTING ARTISTICALLYI create as a form of self expression and a tool for self reflection. My art practice explores and channels my deeper, foundational interests and passions. It is an important regular physical expression that helps guide my daily activities.
APPRECIATING WONDERI carry within me a sense of awe and appreciation for my existence, my gifts and the world around me. I often reflect on the more incredible aspects of life and existence that are beyond my control, or beyond my comprehension. This renews my confidence in the freedom I have to think big and take bold action. I maintain this perspective and gratitude as I face daily challenges and uncertainty.
GOAL SETTINGI assign clear value, purpose and priority to my dreams and aspirations. My passions and interests are shaped into tangible, achievable goals. I share them with others so they can understand and advocate for my progress. I reassess my goals relative to new information. This includes readjustment for my changing ambitions and re-establishing intermediate milestones.
PLANNINGI have a clear expectation of where I am going and how to get there. I am well prepared. I create and follow a roadmap of prioritized, achievable milestones that lead me to my goals. I know what to do next and I am self motivated to do it. People say I am a high achiever.
EXPLORING INTERNALLY & EXTERNALLYI interrogate my thoughts and perceptions as well as others. I am curious and reluctant to accept anything at face value. I seek constructive disagreement, I am comfortable being wrong. I am committed to the hard work of researching externally and exploring internally. I work to seek and find the right questions to ask and define a unique path to discover new ideas and connections.
TAKING INITIATIVEI make the most of every opportunity in my life. I take advantage of the opportunities available to me. I am self-motivated and rarely sit still. I am always engaged and rarely bored. I live life to the fullest, moment-to-moment and I am up for anything.
DRAFTING A TEAMI identify and nurture people’s unique attributes, including my own. I can rally a group around a cause bigger than any individual. I trust in diversity within a group to generate new thinking, interesting conversation and dynamic pursuits. I ask questions and offer insights that get people thinking and sharing. I develop teams that deliver more than the sum of the individual’s contributions. I lead by example with humility, passionate engagement and radical acceptance.
COLLABORATING/ ENGAGING SOCIALLYShared experiences color my life. I am my best when I am actively engaged with a group, seeking new experiences. I am inspired by funny banter and a free flow of imagination. I am motivated by a dynamic social environment. I love people, for who they are, what they can teach me and the potential of what we can achieve together.
INNOVATINGI can’t stop creating novel solutions to worthwhile problems. I am on a quest for originality. I love problem solving. I thirst for difficult challenges and bold, new strategies for solving them. I learn most of what is important from watching others. I reading and research widely, improvise and fail often.
CONCEPTUALIZINGI radiate thoughtful approaches and practical solutions to difficult problems. I think differently. I live by the motto: “No worthy problem is ever solved in the plane of its original conception.” I explore new vantage points and isolate the “real” problem. I sit with messy conflicting views, fragmented ideas or partial solutions in an effort to trigger new breakthroughs and ultimately an original solution.
ITERATING/ PROTOTYPINGI think and learn best by doing. I deliver practical solutions to problems that work. I iterate, create and improvise until I have a creative solution. I get smarter with every cycle. I know when it’s time to stop theorizing and act, build towards a solution. I break down unwieldy problems into smaller ones. I explore intermediate solutions that incorporate them into a comprehensive solution. I value what I learn from my failures.
ORGANIZING/ SYSTEMATIZINGI see the world through systems of organization. Everything has its natural place in the world and I make sure it gets there and stays there. My life is labeled, structured and easy to follow. I am clear, logical, thorough and productive, a stickler for neatness. I am the person others ask to help rationalize complex ideas and organize their closet. I am good at culling and purging, I am comfortable letting go of the “unnecessary”.
DECIDING/ ACCOUNTABILITYI am confident making important life decisions and accepting the outcome. Preparation and consideration are hallmarks of my decision making process. I explore all angles before acting. I question my assumptions, lean on others for counsel and learn from my mistakes. With that information, I make choices for the right reasons with the information available and I can live with the result. I am conscious of the impact further delay can have on a positive outcome.
BUILDING/ CRAFTINGI love building with my hands. I value working with different materials, tools or modes of construction. I follow directions, recheck my work for accuracy and always meet expectations. I exercise my creativity in the tools and techniques I use to make the end product uniquely mine. I love to turn raw materials into a new physical object.
OPERATING/ TROUBLESHOOTINGMy life hums with efficiency. I design and manage routines that deliver consistent, excellent results. I value process and efficiency. I apply a consistent, attention to detail and focused energy to repetitive tasks. I elevate preparation and accountability to an art. I am good at anticipating and preventing problems that could disrupt my regimen.
PERSISTINGWhen I set my mind to something, I won’t stop until it’s complete. I will overcome setbacks, failures, miscues and false starts. I stay stubbornly true to my intention. I am resourceful, tough and adaptable. I know that the important things in life don’t come quickly or easily. I see the challenges as motivation and I learn from my mistakes.
IMPROVING SELFI practice small repeatable habits of learning and improvement. I am passionate about the practice of learning itself. I work hard to get better each day. I am aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I am eager to try new things, especially activities that I am not initially good at. I actively seek advice and guidance from mentors and coaches.