135: Finding Your Purpose Within Pain | Tanya Dalton Skip to the content
August 13, 2019   |   Episode #:

135: Finding Your Purpose Within Pain

In This Episode:

Did you know that sometimes it’s through life’s most pivotal, and oftentimes painful moments that we can find our true purpose? All it takes is some flexibility and resiliency to get us back on track toward our mission when we’re facing life-altering obstacles and curveballs. Today, I’m talking about using pain to find your purpose. I share why you need to be resilient and get yourself back up after you’ve been knocked down. I also discuss the 4 A’s that I used when I was faced with a challenging roadblock. I even share some inspiring stories about some of my friends and past guests who’ve used their pain to find their purpose.

Show Transcript:

The Big Idea

Regret can shift into resilience.

Questions I Answer

  • What do I do if I get off track?
  • How do I overcome obstacles to my goals?
  • Where can I find support on my goals?
  • How do I figure out my purpose?

Actions to Take

Key Topics in the Show

  • Being resilient when life throws you unexpected curveballs

  • The 4 A’s that will help you to overcome life’s obstacles

  • Reaching out to your support system when you need help

  • How I applied the 4 A’s to bounce back from a difficult situation

  • Using the pivots and roadblocks to become resilient and find your purpose

Resources and Links

Show Transcript

Welcome to Season 11 of Productivity Paradox with Tanya Dalton, a podcast 

focused on finding true fulfillment and happiness through the power of productivity. Join Tanya this season as she explores the theme of small changes for big impact. To get her free checklist, Five Minutes to Peak Productivity, simply g

to Tanyadalton.com/podcast. 

And now, heres your host, Tanya Dalton. 

Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, and this is episode 135, Finding Your Purpose Within Pain. Now, I know that sounds like a really heavy topic, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t have to be. All season long, we’re talking about small changes for big impact and that’s really what I want us to focus in today. Last week, we talked about taking passion to the next level and searching for our ikigai or our reason to get out of bed in the morning. This week, 1 want us to continue finding ways to take small steps that can have a big impact on your life and the lives of other people. 

So, let’s first talk about flexibility and resilience because I really think, especially when you’re dealing with painful times in your life, we need some flexibility and resilience. So, most people think that they’re really similar. In fact, if you go and look one of them up in the thesaurus, you’ll most likely find the other word right there in the synonyms, but they’re not exactly alike. They’re not really identical twins. They‘re more like fraternal twins maybe, similar but a little bit different. Flexibility is a little bit more about being able to bend and to move in order to get around something, whereas resilience is about being able to bounce back from something. It’s getting back up once you’ve been knocked down. 

Now, when it comes to highs and the lows in life, I think it’s really important to have a little bit of both quite honestly. You need to be flexible and you also need to have some resilience. Sometimes the situation requires us to bend and twist and to be flexible in order to stay grounded and to keep our sanity. For example, maybe something doesn’t go according to the plans you made, like the caterer doesn’t show up for an event you’re running, or your flight gets canceled on the first day of vacation or the person you just hired decides to quit and move to LA and become an actress. These are stressful situations, unexpected curve balls, but a little bit of flexibility and some determination and possibly some creativity, that will get you through this unforeseen situation. 

Other times though, we need to be resilient. We need to bounce back from a situation that could have knocked us out cold, like being laid off from your job or going through a divorce. These are not your average curve balls, these are major life changing ones. It takes a little bit of perseverance and some grit, essentially a lot of resilience. Now, for those of us who are maybe a little more type A or for those of us 

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who like routines, which you know I am one of, being thrown a curve ball can be something that totally throws you off track. 

This is why resilience is so important, but this is how life is. I mean, life has ups and it has downs. It’s not like a flat road on Highway 46 in North Dakota with no hills or bumps in sight. Life is more like Colorado, some flat parts, some hills here and there, 

and then sometimes a great big majestic mountain and sometimes some steep drops. Life has ups and downs and curve balls and obstacles and sometimes it even has complete roadblocks. The key is how you perceive these situations, how you break them down, and what steps you take next that determine if you forge ahead or if you’ll let them defeat you, and that’s what I want to talk about. 

So, what do you do when life throws you a curve ball or really puts you on a roller coaster? Well, back in Season 8, we did an episode, I believe its episode 103, about overcoming obstacles and the power of the pivot. And in that episode, I mentioned four simple steps to help you overcome obstacles. So today, I want to give you a quick abbreviated reminder of those four steps. Step one, acknowledgement; step two, assessment; step three, assistance; and step four, action. So, I’m going to call these the four A’s. You know how much I love alliteration. So, we have acknowledgement, assessment, assistance and then action. 

So, acknowledgment is really not ignoring the situation at hand, really admitting that there’s an obstacle that needs to be faced, but it can also be about acknowledging your feelings. So that’s a really important first step. The second step, assessment, is figuring out what kind of curve ball are we dealing with here. Is it a bump in the road or is it a complete roadblock? Is this something you can control or change or is it something like the weather that you have no power over whatsoever? 

That third step of assistance is about not being afraid to get help or to reach out to 

it out. No one says that you have to face adversity alone. That’s what support systems and friends and family, that’s what they’re there for, supporting you in your efforts and helping you pick yourself back up from time to time. Because guess what? There’s going to be times where they are going to need some picking up as well. We all need picking up from time to time. You’re not alone in that. And then that fourth step is action. This is all about taking steps, that making that forward progress. Sometimes an obstacle you can’t control means you have to work around delays or figure out a plan B. Sometimes with obstacles that are within your power, you can just make a few small tweaks or adjustments and then keep on moving ahead. 

How do we use these four A‘s to our advantage when the going gets tough? That’s what I want to share next. I want to share a real-life example of how I applied the four A’s to help me bounce back from a situation, how it allowed me to be flexible and really see the light at the end of the tunnel and really the result ended up being better than when I started. So, before we do that, I want to have a quick word from today’s sponsor. 

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This episode has been sponsored by the University of California Irvine or UCI, UCI has a division of continuing education with tons of specialized studies including business and education, human resources, health care, project management, digital marketing, paralegal, and so many more. Their diverse assortment of courses are taught by industry practitioners who have real world experience. And for those of you who are juggling family and work while also chasing your dreams or maybe even pursuing a career change, UCI has 100% online courses that are flexible and convenient. UCI could also be a great resource for anyone looking to reenter the workforce after taking some time off or for gaining credits towards getting your master’s degree or just to learn some new skills that can help you with that startup business that you’ve been considering. All registration is now open and they have a great deal for Productivity Paradox listeners. Simply go to ce.uci.edu/productivityparadox and enter the promo code, paradox, to get 15% off of one of their continuing education courses. Again, that’s ce.uci.edu/productivityparadox. Don’t forget to use that code, paradox, to get 15% off. This offer is valid until December 31, 2019. I’ll also be sure to put a link in my show notes, so you can look for that there. 

All right, let’s get back to our topic for today. I want to talk about how we deal with the four A’s and how do we really apply that. So, I wanted to share with you a recent example of how I use the four A’s myself. I’m just like you, I have ups and I’ve got downs. Sometimes I’ve got upside downs really. My road is a lot like a Colorado map, just like yours. Now in my book, The Joy of Missing Out, we talk a lot about priorities, a lot. So how to decide what’s important, how to create time and space for your priorities. And one of the things as you can imagine is the priority list. If you’ve used my inkWELL Press products or if you’ve listened to this podcast for some time or 

really for any time, you probably know that the priority list system that I created, it’s a big part of my message. 

Toss out that to-do list and make yourself a priority list. You’ve heard that probably a hundred times on this podcast, so of course this is in my book. I walked through the three categories, which I called immediate, important and insignificant. But when I gave my first draft to my editor, she pushed back, and she pushed back hard. It was a little bit of a surprise, but that’s what good editors do. They question everything. She’s the reader’s advocate, she reads what I write, and then she pushes back, and she makes my writing better, which is great. But this was really hard for me because she really challenged me on this priority list, not on the list itself, but really on the names of those categories in my priority list, immediate, important and insignificant. She didn’t really think they worked. She loved the priority list system itself, but she thought the names were all wrong. 

So, I’ll be honest. At first, I bristled a little bit. All right, I’m going to be honest with you, I bristled a lot, a lot, a lot. I mean, I had spent a long time designing the systems and the categories and I knew that they worked. I had heard from so many of you how shifting to a priority list had really helped your life and had really increased your productivity. Plus, I had designed products around this priority list system, and I had several podcast episodes talking about those categories. I couldn’t change it. It was 

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done. It was set in stone. I have to tell you, this felt a little more than frustrating. I was beyond frustrated, but then I sat back, and I thought about it and had to swallow that first A, acknowledgement. 

When I spent some time marinating on this curve ball that I was not expecting and when I really peeled back the onion and took a good look, I needed to acknowledge that I had gotten some feedback from some of you and some of my customers saying they didn’t really like the word insignificant. They felt like it just didn’t quite work, and they found that the word important confusing because it was in the second level category. So, I needed to acknowledge that maybe they were right, and I was, well, how do I say this? I was wrong. Yeah, that’s not easy to say, especially to say out loud to lots of lots of people, but I was wrong, and I had to acknowledge that. 

So the next step up, assessment. I needed to take a good hard look at the situation. Now, I have to admit, I was pretty committed to the idea of the three levels. I just 

didn’t want to have two levels on the priority list, and I knew that having these three levels were right. The way that they work with important and urgent, it worked. It’s just that they weren’t named right, and I didn’t want to get too caught up in my ways or too stubborn with how I wanted to do things, even though I am a stubborn person. 

So deep down, I knew it would be okay to change and to evolve. This didn’t just feel like a big decision. It was a big decision because I had already sunk a lot of energy. There was a lot of sweat equity that was spent in that first iteration of these priority levels. But not only that, I had spent a good deal of money into those existing priority list categories. We had products printed that were sitting in my warehouse boxes stacked up high. So, ditching these categories and renaming them would mean throwing away that inventory. I’d basically be throwing that money away. Never an easy thing to do, but I decided to take a step back. I took a big step back. I had to take a big deep breath and think, “It’s okay. I’m going to shift and give myself the grace to not look at this as a mistake or some sort of failure, but as an opportunity to make things better for everyone.” 

And then it was time for some assistance, step number three. I needed some help. Sol went through the emails that we had received with feedback on these levels and I talked to my team about it and John and I discussed it only about, I don’t know, three million times, but I needed to let go of the sunk cost, both the time and the money 

that I had invested. And then I was ready for the final step, action. I spent a lot of time with some online resources looking for words. I wrote down hundreds of words and I stewed on it and I stewed on it. In fact, I probably spent an entire month working on it daily, sometimes just a few minutes a day, sometimes several hours, but every day ! took action, basically trying to figure out what would resonate with people and still honor my original concept. And finally, I landed on three new words for those 

different priority levels. 

So, they still work the same. They just got renamed. Level one, escalate; level two, cultivate; and level three, accommodate. Escalate, cultivate, accommodate. I really kind of loved them when I came up with them. It made me really happy. So, then what 

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I decided to do is I shared it with my secret Facebook group. So, I have a secret Facebook group for my liveWELL Method alumni. So, I met with them and I listened to their feedback and they loved the change. They felt that these new words fit so much better and it allowed them to implement the priority list even easier. So, they were happy and I was happy because it still fit what I wanted to convey. It still separates the urgent from the important. I kept the same basic idea, but now it was more user friendly and much easier for people to distinguish between the three levels. 

So, with that, I want to tell you that right now at this very moment on this podcast, I’m in the middle of that last step of the four A’s. Because the final part of the action plan, I needed to share it with you, to swallow my pride, accept that I was wrong, you’re only going to hear me say that once, and let you know about this change. Walking through those four A’s was difficult at times, but it really was worth it. Like I said, this decision wasn’t easy. It wasn’t without contemplation and deliberation. Because this one small, itty-bitty change meant I would have to get rid of a bunch of perfectly good products that had the old words on them. But what was most important was making the changes to fit the feedback that I was getting in order to help people understand things better, finding those words that would really resonate you. And isn’t that why I created the system in the first place? 

So, at the end of the day, that’s what helped me embrace making the changes. I had to let go of what was done before and move on and into what was better. Like I said, it wasn’t an easy process because we had a lot of money tied up into this priority list categories that we had before and I’m not really good at throwing away money frivolously. Hopefully, you’re not either. It’s really difficult to do. But I also didn’t let sunk cost bias suck me back in. Just because we’d already invested time and money into the prior categories didn’t mean I couldn’t be flexible, and I couldn’t make some changes. I decided I had to do what was best and that’s what I did. So, I wanted to share this story with you because I want everyone to know that I face the same challenges that you do. 

Thave to battle through the pros and the cons and dealing with the emotions of facing fear, facing failure, facing change, fear of making the wrong decisions. And I had to be okay with walking away from something I had worked really hard on and that I had also invested money in. I had to give myself the grace to be flexible and to realize that sometimes walking away and doing something new or different is okay. In fact, it can sometimes be great, and this is just a simple example of how we can come out on the other side even better. In fact, many times our purpose, the thing that makes the biggest impact of all, that can come from our pain. It can come from the 

things that we have to shift and pivot through, the things that we need our resilience for. Now, I have to say it’s never easy, but sometimes out of this intense tragedy, we can find our purpose. 

One of the most courageous things we can do is choose to pick ourselves back up and realize that this is a season we’re living through. The hardship, the tragedy, the place where we feel stuck, this is fertile ground for our purpose. All that we live through, the good, the bad, the really bad, all of it allows us to have perspective. And 

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changing our perspective on pain is difficult to do. But when you see that these things are all part of your journey to get you to where you’re meant to be, it can make moving through it a little bit easier. It’s the stumbling blocks of today that lead us to the springboards of tomorrow

My friend, Amy Lacey, is a great example of this. She was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease several years ago and she was devastated understandably by this diagnosis, but she was especially saddened that her family would lose one of their favorite traditions, Friday night pizza night. She was finding that processed foods seem to increase her pain and her inflammation, and so it seemed like pizza night was doomed, so she took action. She decided to find a way to make sure she could still participate. She and her daughter worked to perfect a pizza crust from cauliflower with no fillers, a process that was not easy, but she finally achieved it. Knowing that others were also suffering from connective tissue disorders or other types of inflammations, she was spurred on to found Cali’flour Foods. Pizza crust was just the beginning. She began to find ways to make all kinds of foods healthier, waffles and cookies and pastas and more. And she’s actually credited with being one of the first people to start the cauliflower craze because she was resilient. She had to bounce back from adversity and that’s helped her create a multimillion-dollar company that now has impacted so many people. She’s really impacted and changed so many lives simply by turning her own tragedy into triumph. 

John Walsh is another great example of someone who took a painful experience and found his purpose hidden within it. Walsh is credited with reuniting thousands of missing children with their families. He’s pushed Congress to pass legislation and 

other measures to help missing children. He’s hosted America’s Most Wanted and a slew of other crime programs to help capture criminals. He’s worked tirelessly for decades to keep the streets a safer place. This journey for him began after his son, Adam, was kidnapped and murdered in 1981. He was spurred into action because he wanted to make sure other parents didn’t have to deal with the tragedy he had lived 


If you recall, John O’Leary, who was on our show a couple of seasons ago, another person who’s lived through tragedy. He was burned on 90% of his body, and yet out of that fire came his passion and his purpose. He now speaks and talks to people. He has an amazing book out there where he talks about this. It really has created his purpose. 

Going through tragedy, going through tough times doesn’t mean that we are stuck there forever. In fact, my friend, Marshawn Evans Daniels, who you remember was on this podcast a couple of seasons ago, in her book, Believe Bigger, she says, “If we are brave enough to believe beyond what we feel and see, seasons of pain can uniquely prepare us for and propel us in an entirely new direction, E-N-D.” You see the end doesn’t need to be the end. It can be an entirely new direction, a new path for us to discover. So yes, dealing with hardship, dealing with changes in our life’s plan, can be scary, but it can also be monumental in pushing you towards success. Whether it’s a small thing like changing a product like I did, changing your career path or dealing 

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with some sort of big event in your life, change can be good as long as you’re flexible and resilient and you’re willing to open your eyes to see the new perspectives you’re receiving. Sometimes the hardships can be the things that really change us into the people we truly want to be. 

Now before we sign off, I do want to ask you for a favor. If you have not pre-ordered 

The Joy of Missing Out, please do pre-order it. First of all, I have some amazing bonuses for you. There is free access to my $247 Course, Discover Your that I think you’ll absolutely love. It’s one of my favorite courses I’ve ever created, and you get it for free when you pre-order the book. You also get a discount on inkWELL Press products and you also get access to the first couple of chapters. All of that is included when you pre-order the book. 

But here’s the truth, when you pre-order the book, you also are supporting me, which I really do appreciate. So, if you have loved this podcast, if you like the messages we talk about, do consider pre-ordering the book because that’s what tells the stores that this book is going to do well and that’s what’s going to allow the message to spread. Because it’s not just about the book, it’s really about the movement. It’s about getting women to really understand how they want to run their days and to feel good when they go to bed at night and their head hits the pillow. I want you to experience satisfaction and success. So, I want to get this book into the hands of as many women as I possibly can. So, will you help me with that? Pre-ordering the book is one of the ways you can really help me out. 

So, once you pre-order and you can pre-order anywhere books are sold, simply go to joyofmissingout.com and claim those bonuses. That $247 course is yours. Just go and claim it after you pre-order, all right? And thank you too for all the love and support I’ve been receiving about this book. I am so excited about it and I love that you are too. 

All right, next week we’re going to continue our season talking about small changes for a big impact, and we’ll be talking about productivity and how we can use that and 

tivity has failed you in the past. So, until next time, have a beautifu and productive week. 

Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox. Now we’d love to have you join the conversation. To Join Tanya‘s free group simply go to Tanyadalton.com/group. 

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