“Our job in this lifetime is not to fit into some mold that others have determined is best for us. Our job is to find out who we already are – and become it.” - Steven Pressfield

About Life Design Catalyst Work

“Your purpose in life is to become the best version of yourself and profoundly serve others in order to make the world a better place."

The Life Design Catalyst Academy was created in April 2020 as an online version of the Life Design Catalyst Program in the School of Health and Human Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The LDC Program at UNCG consists of two 1-credit, first-year experience courses: "HHS125: Design Your Life I - What Could I Do With My Life" and "HHS135: Design Your Life II - Redesign a Life You'll Love," as well as a 3-credit course, "Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurship," which has evolved into a "Developing a Side Hustle" course - based on Chris Guillebeau's book, "Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days." The LDC Academy is an expanded version of these three courses...and a whole lot more!

The Academy consists of Modules, Projects, and additional Resources to design your best life. The foundation of the LDC Academy are the four Modules (Courses), together known as the Growth Year Bundle:

  • Module 1: Sense of Self. Take personal responsibility for your past by focusing on all aspects of your story. 
  • Module 2: Know Yourself. Understand the characteristics that make you who you are today.
  • Module 3: Serve Profoundly. Create statements that guide academic and career plans.
  • Module 4: Build a Better You. Develop practices that move you towards becoming the best version of yourself.
In addition to the four Modules, we've also included several others awesome resources that Life Design Catalyst Academy members can explore: 
  • Project 1: Side Hustle 101. A curriculum that provides the structure to turn an idea into income in 14 days.
  • LDC Academcy Zoom Chat Recordings. A collection of recordings from various online Life Design Catalyst meetings.
  • Odds and Ends. A VAST collection of articles, videos, books, movies, and links for further exploration in designing lives for success.
  • Life Design Catalyst Community. An online members-only discussion board. 

The Life Design Catalyst Academy facilitates the growth process by empowering students, faculty, and staff in higher education to optimize their lives by using their gifts to express the best version of themselves in service to something bigger than themselves in order to make the world a better place.  It’s an approach that views the exploration of Purpose (“Who am I meant to be?”), Meaning (“Why do I matter?”), Mission (“What am I here to do?”), and Vision (“Where do I want to go?”) as the foundation for student development and ultimately, student success.

The Academy integrates academic advising, academic/success coaching, career exploration, personal development, contemplative practices, holistic health and well-being, and developing the entrepreneurial spirit/mindset as a foundation for the college experience – especially for first-year students.  

The Academy embraces the "The Catalyst Spirit” (also known as the "Entrepreneurial Spirit"), where the Facilitators and students: (1) become deeply engaged in and committed to meaningful work and purposeful, passionate goals; (2) are intentional and persistent in all activities by taking calculated risks to create substantial value and generate significant results despite adversity, obstacles, and failure; and (3) step out of our comfort zone to use curiosity, creativity, imagination, and resourcefulness to design and plan a better life and a better future for ourselves and for others.

Recognize that the Life Design Catalyst Academy is focused more on student development than student performance.  Practices focused on performance typically addresses and fixes specific problems or challenges.  It’s about putting out the fires on everyday stuff.  Practices focused on development turns the focus from the issue at hand to the person dealing with the issue.  It’s about moving forward to learn, grow, and improve, rather than fixing a problem.  Both are necessary, but it’s important to know that LDC work primarily concentrates on development, not performance.

LDC Academy Beliefs/Principles:

  1. Simple Rules for Success: (1) Know Yourself. (2) Serve Profoundly. (3) Find Your Right Pond.
  2. Values: “Profound care for self.  Profound connections with others.  Profound service to the world.”
  3. Philosophy: Better Character = Better People, Better People = Better Students.

If you'd like to learn more about how we work with students in the Life Design Catalyst Academy and our plans for the future, please check out the links below for more in-depth information:



Poster/Project Examples

Course Syllabi

"Required" Readings

These are our "must reads" for anyone interested in or pursuing Life Design Catalyst work:

  • 76 Scientific Benefits of Meditation.  I've included this web site because I wonder why we haven't implemented meditation/mindfulness as a foundation of education! What would our country/world look like if we incorporated these practices with kids at an early age?  I would guess that we would have less mental health issues, physical health issues, etc.
  • The Purpose of Life is Not Happiness, It’s Usefulness. The title says it all. Stop chasing happiness; focus on usefulness.  Guess what? By focusing on usefulness, you will increase your level of happiness. How about that?
  • Your Work Is Not for Everyone. Instead of trying to please everyone, only focus on those who care about your work. Everyone else?  They can kiss your ass!
  • 3 Reasons Why You Make Terrible Decisions. It's one of those articles that you'll read - over and over again, since it's one thing to understand how we make terrible decisions, it's another thing to actually start making better decisions.
  • Vulnerability: The Key to Better Relationships. This article, in conjunction with Brene Brown's TED Talk "Power of Vulnerability," provides the advice on how to be courageous and authentic in your relationships.
  • If You Want to Get Better at Something, Ask Yourself These Two Questions . If you're at all interested in coaching, this article provides you an example how two questions can change someone's perspective on improvement. 
  • Personal Values: A Guide to Figuring Out Who You Are. Out of the hundreds of books, articles, and videos I've read and watched over the years on values, this is my favorite.  Breaks it down so it's easy to understand, then helps you decide what really matters most in your life.
  • What Is a Great Legacy? When I turned 50, I realized that I needed to stop thinking about the personal recognition and rewards and focus on leaving a positive legacy. Here's an article that I feel defines what it means to live a great legacy.
  • How Purpose Changes Across Your Lifetime. The subheading says it all: "Purpose is not a destination, suggests research, but a journey and a practice." It's one of the few articles that actually explains as a journey that lasts throughout one's life and not as an end goal. If you define purpose as becoming the best version of yourself and serving profoundly, purpose is a never-ending pursuit.