With Purpose: Going from Success to Significance in Work and Life


The definition of success changes as you grow in life. As a child, it meant pleasing your parents; in high school, it may have meant good grades or popularity; as a professional, success usually means a good salary and the respect of others. But what about the years after your initial goals have been pursued and met? What does success mean then? Leisure or legacy?

For more and more people, it's about making things better and about improving the world in a lasting, significant ...

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The definition of success changes as you grow in life. As a child, it meant pleasing your parents; in high school, it may have meant good grades or popularity; as a professional, success usually means a good salary and the respect of others. But what about the years after your initial goals have been pursued and met? What does success mean then? Leisure or legacy?

For more and more people, it's about making things better and about improving the world in a lasting, significant way—about changing people's lives and altering the course of history for the better. There's an environment to protect and communities to strengthen. There are minds to change and hearts to win. There are examples to set and legacies to leave—your legacy.

With Purpose is for the bold, for the dreamers who act. It's an urging on why you should commit to have a lasting impact on the world, and it's a manifesto on what you can do to maximize that impact, regardless of whether or not you think you have the resources to do it: you do. It will inspire you, show you how to identify your strengths, and make your next success a significant one.

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  • Dr. Ken Dychtwald
    Dr. Ken Dychtwald  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
As we grow older, our ideas about success evolve. For many people, the big office and lofty job title lose allure their allure after time. Dr. Ken Dychtwald's With Purpose asks the Big Question: What does success mean to you now? Is leisure or legacy? Financial security or global responsibility? Free time or changing people's lives? Measured and reflective, this upbeat book asks you to address what you really want to do with the rest of your life.
Lee Eisenberg
"Happiness is about more than what’s in the bank. Ken Dychtwald lays out the essential components of an all-weather, successful portfolio-with a significant investment in head, heart, and spirit."
Jean Houston
"Ken Dychtwald brings a moral magnificence to the life-enhancing opportunities that lay before us. To read With Purpose is to be charged with the significance of one’s commitment to help, to heal, and to make a better world."
Robert B. Reich
"Here’s a thought-provoking and uplifting view of working and learning in the second half of life by one of the world’s true experts."
Robert Butler
"With Purpose is a call to change. It will show you how to use your talents to create a better life for yourself and for the people and causes that inspire you."
Marc Freedman
"Bringing together powerful stories, sage advice, and important insights, this book reveals a generation poised for its encore, ready to usher in a new era of individual and social renewal."
Mehmet Oz
"Healthy living and modern medicine have given our lives longevity. With Purpose is a guide to making the most of all that time—by making a difference that means as much to you as to the people around you."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061373114
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/3/2009
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., is a renowned psychologist, gerontologist and public speaker and the bestselling author of 15 books, including The Power Years, Bodymind, Age Wave and Workforce Crisis. His firm, Age Wave, has consulted on product and service development for baby boomers for more than half the Fortune 500 businesses. He has been featured on 60 Minutes and Oprah as well as in the Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail, National Post, Maclean’s and TIME.

Daniel J. Kadlec is an author and journalist whose work appears regularly in Time and Money magazines. He lives with his wife and three children in Chappaqua, New York.

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Read an Excerpt

With Purpose

Going from Success to Significance in Work and Life
By Ken Dychtwald

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2009 Ken Dychtwald
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061373114

Chapter One

Are You Using Your Life—or Is Your Life Using You? There are two ways of exerting one's strength: one is pushing down and the other is pulling up.
—Booker T. Washington

A few years ago I was winding down work on my last major book, The Power Years: A User's Guide to the Rest of Your Life, when a series of peculiar events, which I'll describe, overtook me. These events changed the way I look at the world and ultimately led to the book you now hold in your hands. But this book is not about me—it's about you. It's about why your worldview may be changing, how you can better understand the shift and find purpose in everything you do. It's about how you can finally set aside, or at least temper, your focus on personal gain in order to identify with a different kind of success—one that centers on meaning and satisfaction. It's about doing something significant with the rest of your life, something that will help others and at the same time fill a void you may not even be fully aware of. For many years I wasn't fully aware of my void. But I knew something wasn't right. So let me start by explaining what changed that.

The Power Years, which I coauthoredwith Daniel J. Kadlec, was a new kind of project for me. I've made a career out of studying the lifestyles, needs, and aspirations—and the related spending and savings patterns of baby boomers. For three and a half decades, I've been writing and speaking both about the lifestyle of maturity and about boomer habits and consulting with global companies eager to capture the attention of this highly influential and wealthy generation. In The Power Years we wanted to fast-forward to gaze into the future. So we set out to examine what boomer lifestyles might look like in the traditional retirement years, which were approaching fast. In the end, we attempted to put forth a groundbreaking vision for what people might become in their fifties and beyond. The message was fairly simple: later life is evolving into an extraordinary period of good health and extended opportunity for people to do whatever they want to do. So what would they do? I loved exploring the future of relationships, leisure, learning, and work, and making sense of how people are going to pay for it all. But for me, the heart and soul of that book was the final chapter, which was called "Leaving a Legacy."

It is my heartfelt belief that living a longer life, as we certainly will in an age of advanced medicine and unprecedented information about healthy living, isn't simply a matter of playing longer or working longer—but of reaching a place where you have gathered enough life experiences and perhaps the financial freedom to dedicate the decades of life still before you to doing good things for your family, community, country, and the world. What use could you put your skills to that might give someone else, whether you know them or not, an otherwise missed opportunity to better their life? This was the parting challenge that we presented in our new way of looking at a reinvented retirement.

Not many years ago, when people reached their fifty-fifth birthday they were pretty close to the end of their days. They were concerned mostly with putting their affairs in order and maybe trying to have a little fun before their last sunset. But someone who reaches that age now can look forward to twenty, or thirty, or even forty more years of life. What might be the most satisfying way to spend all of that time?

We concluded that leaving a legacy—not necessarily the financial kind; but doing something memorable to lift others—would emerge as a retirement revolution. Today there are hundreds of millions of men and women around the world approaching a period of life when they'll have unprecedented amounts of discretionary time and are looking for a new challenge. Maybe they haven't achieved what they thought they might in their career and are now looking for someplace totally new to invest their energy. Maybe it's the opposite: they have achieved more than they set out to do and now find at age fifty-one or fifty-seven or sixty-three that they want a fresh purpose for getting up in the morning.

In my travels and conversations I don't often hear anymore about people in their fifties or older focused on making another $1 million. Certainly, greed, deceit, and ambition haven't vanished from the globe. Corporate scandals, glass ceilings for women and minorities, identity theft, Internet fraud, and other forms of lying, cheating, and stealing are as prevalent as ever. And a lot of us are still rightly concerned with making a decent, honest living and finishing the job of raising happy and prepared children. You may not be financially secure at this point in life. Yet what I increasingly hear are people talking about what's next; about what's in store in the next stage of life. They wonder how they might get past their routines and do something that makes their heart sing, that reminds them of their humanity and gives them a chance to reboot from the hard-driving work and family pursuits that have preoccupied them for decades.

Life can certainly be draining, whether you are managing a career and paying the bills or seeing to your kids' health, education, and moral grounding—or, as is increasingly the case in modern societies, doing both. Past a certain age, though, you can loosen up on the reins and let yourself be led down unknown trails. This can be an exciting and liberating time as you begin to think about your life not as a mission accomplished—but as a time for finding a new purpose that will give your life meaning and just might become your most joyous and nourishing time on earth.


Excerpted from With Purpose by Ken Dychtwald Copyright © 2009 by Ken Dychtwald. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xiii

1 Are You Using Your Life- or Is Your Life Using You? 01

2 What You Think You Know about Success- and How You're Wrong 41

3 Dreams and Goals Aren't for Kids- They're for the Kid at Heart 92

4 Your Marriage Is Not the Most Important Relationship in Your Life 141

5 Giving-It's Also about What You Get 195

6 Who Do You Think You Are? 230

7 Without Time and Talent, Money Is Just Paper 272

8 You Thought You Made a Difference- but Now You Really Do 314

Online Resources 351

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2009

    Very Timely!

    In these challenging times when there is so much to be worried about, With Purpose is a refreshing look at what we can do to empower ourselves and find happiness and meaning in our lives no matter our age or financial circumstances.

    Dychtwald effectively uses empowering real life stories to demonstrate how to stay engaged, creative and find meaning in one's life well in to our golden years. His fundamental message is that when you incorporate service in your life you will naturally create more moments of happiness, thus greatly enriching the journey. Happiness clearly comes from within, it just has to be cultivated.

    With Purpose is an informative, engaging, and inspiring exploration of possibilities and opportunities to make a difference throughout ones life. Very timely. Highly recommended!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2009

    A Must Read for Today

    I am fascinated with issues related to aging, the boomer generation and retirement and have followed many of Ken Dychtwald's previous books. "With Purpose" is the latest book by Dychtwald, whom I think is the leading voice on these issues. What makes "With Purpose" such an important read with the economic and social crisis facing Americans today is that one of our most visionary thinkers offers an upbeat, inspirational message. He give us real-life examples of how to get through this difficult period and move forward to a better, more satisfying time in our lives. I'm glad to finally have the positive direction he offers.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A must read for those questioning "what's next" in life's journey.

    Although there is a current flood of books related to the topic of life's purpose, with new ones appearing every day, I believe that Dr. Dychtwald has managed to find a unique niche. He has astutely avoided many of the tenets that cause fashionable readers to shy away from considering life's greater meaning and the purpose that lies beyond our aging process.

    "With Purpose" is a refreshing new approach to an age old dilemma; is there a mission to our later years; and if there is, how might we derive revitalization during the years that typically divert to decline. Written from an autobiographical, as well as philosophical perspective, "With Purpose" provides a combination of method and theory, as the author has been able to draw from both personal experience and his training as a gerontologist and psychologist.

    In the same discerning style of Dr. Dychtwald's previous books, "With Purpose" has captivated the defining questions of the aging adult in contemporary society as they navigate the journey from a significant mid-life into meaningful maturity. Recognizing that significance is an attribute which needs to be decided from within, so too is our sense of purpose. Unlike many other authors of this genre, Dychtwald does not take it upon himself to provide "the purpose" for his reader, but rather has the etiquette to merely light the pathway to self-discovery.

    It is not that "With Purpose" avoids the connection of spirituality; it rather allows it to prevail without accosting the reader with endless persuasion and personal bias. The reader is urged to recognize the need for later life examination; then given the tools and motivation while being allowed the luxury to construct their own vision towards purposeful aging.

    "With Purpose" is a must read for those of us who have acknowledged our own inner questioning of what's next. It is all the more commendable for arriving on the shelves at precisely the time and conditions that it speaks to; boomers on the threshold of senior citizenship in a world gone amuck. Could it be that a generation entering adulthood while questioning authority must now face their golden years while defining a new mission and designing their own sense of purpose?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2009

    Lots of stuff does not create happiness

    This most compelling item in this book was the Happiness Score by country. America is 17th on the list! People in many countries with average incomes 50% less than America are much happier. The author explains why and what we can do about it. This is a good book but not a great book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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