Last week’s blog, A Unicorn Called Happiness, (, left many readers with more questions than answers. Most wanted me to explore how we can identify the things that make us feel alive and purposeful.

As I wrote in last week’s blog, “What we are actually seeking is not happiness but rather, aliveness. And it’s not a place we arrive at and settle down in, but a life-long pilgrimage on the path we must build as we walk it.”

Shiva asked, “How do I pave this path? Where do I begin?”

The 5 steps to connecting with the things that make you feel alive are simple but not easy. They require you to put time aside daily for your own Self (capital S).

Start here:

  1. Put aside at least 90 minutes to Complete the Life Buckets exercise ( 
  2. Now you are clear about the 3-5 Mega Buckets that will keep you on purpose.
  3. Write a long, loopy, uncensored list of all the actions that count as genuine deposits into your Life Buckets.
  4. Your list will include actions that are not pleasurable all the time, but are clearly meaningful and consequential.
  5. Fill your life (and your calendar) with those things and be brutal in cutting out anything that is not a direct deposit.

My four Life Buckets are Parenting, Coaching, Relationships, and Athletics. This doesn’t mean other things are not important to me. It just means that I do the work – daily, weekly and monthly – of making sure my actions are on purpose based on what I’ve decided takes priority in my life. Over time, these daily purposeful actions are the bricks and mortar that pave the road of my life.

On that road, I experience happiness and pleasure as emotions that come and go, but aliveness as a state that is always present and humming.

For those of us who were led to believe that happiness is a destination, and we can arrive there by doing all the right things – according to society, culture and family – this can be a difficult shift to make.  

It’s the shift from seeing the goal of our lives as a noun; happiness, to a verb; aliveness.  But it’s a journey worth taking and a commitment worth making. Wouldn’t you rather feel a sense of purpose, joy and clarity while you travel than suffer all the way to some imaginary destination with a hope and a prayer that once you arrive, it will all be worth it?

The last step is to create your To Feel Alive list.

This is a dynamic document that will grow and change as you do. It contains a reminder of all the things, people, and activities that make you feel alive. As I wrote in my previous blog, “Alive is how we feel when we are living a life that is creative on purpose. A life that is surely not easy but has us engaging with work, people, and challenges that light us up because they are meaningful even when they are difficult or unpleasant in the moment.

Your To Feel Alive list takes precedence but does not replace your To Do list. However, don’t be surprised if suddenly you have many fewer tasks on your To Do list. 

My own To Feel Alive list is too long and private for social media, but if you begin this process and feel it would be helpful to read mine, I would be happy to share it with you.  Reach out on my website.

Now, let’s get started!

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  • Carolyn Mahboubi

    Master Certified Life and Leadership Coach

    Carolyn Mahboubi is a Master Certified Life and Leadership Coach. She has helped countless individuals, from high-achieving CEOs to world-renowned entrepreneurs, take the next step to achieve their goals. Explore their unique stories. Carolyn is also the creator of The Life Vault, a self-paced online course to creating a life with purpose and intention. Connect with Carolyn: LinkedIn | Instagram