You’re happiest when you’re productive, checking off tasks one by one. But lately the daily grind is grinding away your sense of purpose. You plan to find more meaning in life—as soon as you get to the bottom of your to-do list.

Your assignment

Rise above your routine and find inspiration.

1. Try some blank verse.

Complete the sentences:

Every day I get up and think ____. I really wish I could stop ____, because then I would have time to ____. And I really should ____ more often—it always makes me feel better. I don’t know why I keep ____ —the world wouldn’t end if I stopped for just a week. I’m going to try it one time.

2. Make a don’t-do list.

Let something go once a day—or once a week.

3. Pencil yourself in.

You love checking things off, so add yourself to the list. Just as you’d schedule a dentist appointment, block out some time to pursue your grander goal—if you have one in mind—or do some creative thinking. Or pick a day and get up an hour earlier. If that works, try it again next week.

4. Steal little moments to ponder the big questions:

• Doodle.
Even if your efforts are closer to scrawling than sketching, doodling frees your mind from the constraints of straightforward linguistic thought, allowing you to evaluate ideas from a different angle, which can help you gain new insights.

• Listen to music.
Music activates the brain regions involved in attention, planning, and memory. Just keep the volume at a moderate level; blasting tunes is not conducive to deep thought.

• Get up and take a walk.
A Stanford study found that people who walk for just five to 16 minutes are significantly more creative than those who stay deskbound. Exercise boosts blood flow to the brain and increases the size of the hippocampus, a part of the brain critical for learning and forming new memories.

A few questions to inspire big-picture thinking:

• How does today feel different from yesterday?

• Why do I buy what I buy?

• Why do I live where I live?

• Why am I bothered by the things that bother me?

• When am I happiest?

Now that you have a plan, keep up the momentum with SYPartners' next Life Course, Spark Your Motivation, at

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