Asking Polly How to Find Purpose

In this week’s Ask Polly advice column, Heather Havrilesky offers some sound advice to a young millennial woman struggling to find her purpose. While she leads a seemingly great personal and professional life – good finances, a loving husband and a booming career – whenever she finds herself forced to focus on her relationship with herself, she thinks What’s the point? If you find yourself asking the same question, Heather’s response is worth a read.

Here are a few other things we’re chatting about this week:

  • From romance to friendship to family to community, we shared a lot of love stories from our stage this fall. But what if we only had 13 words to do so? Check out how fans of Modern Love described the loves of their lives in just a few words.
  • NPR’s Book Concierge is our new go-to guide for more than 350 of this year’s best books. Grab your glasses and dive in here.
  • Join Glennon Doyle’s annual love offering, Holiday Hands, to help those in our communities who need a little extra this holiday season. Click here for more details.


Fighting in the limelight for those in the shadows

Women are voicing solidarity as stories of sexual harassment are being shared with the media around the world. But the decision to speak up or stay silent is not always easy, especially for women in industries with extreme power differentials. For those in vulnerable groups, such as domestic workers or members of the service industry, outing a predator on Twitter likely won’t yield the same affects as we’ve seen with offenders in Hollywood. Instead, collective action by groups such as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has proven to be another successful way to fight back.

Here are a few other things we’ve been chatting about this week:

  • “You have to get out of your own way and write your own story—and not be forced into the narrative that you think will give you the easiest path to success or the most likes,” shares Laura Dern in a moving letter to her 12-year-old daughter. Read more of her message here.
  • Decades later, this timeless ‘70’s manifesto ‘I Want a Wife’ still hits the nail on the head.
  • Whether it’s your time, a donation or the power of your voice, give to those in need this holiday season. Find out how to join the movement today.

Planning Your Un-Retirement

The Financial Freedom Studio welcomes Jean Chatzky—financial journalist, author and host of the HerMoney with Jean Chatzky podcast—for a series of articles on a modern approach to financial and life planning.

Many dream of retirement as a time to leave work behind—but plenty of retirees find that the desire to keep busy is more powerful than they imagined. 

Recently, I gave a talk with Ken Dychtwald, CEO of AgeWave and one of the country’s leading thinkers on aging. He travels the country for his work and meets a lot of retirees. Lately, he told me, he’s noticed an interesting phenomenon. He’ll ask people, “What are you doing?” They’ll answer, “I’m retired.” He’ll follow up, “So, what are you doing?” They’ll answer, “Well, I’m working.”

Yes, working. In retirement. According to research from AgeWave, nearly half of current retirees say they either are working or would like to be working. And nearly three-quarters of people in their 50s say they plan on following that same path. What’s behind this trend? Finances of course. Continuing to work – at least part-time – in retirement can bring in enough money that many people find they can put off tapping Social Security and withdrawing from their 401(k)s and other retirement accounts, allowing those balances to continue to grow.

But there are also other benefits. Research has shown continuing to work reduces isolation, leads to better physical and mental health, and gives you a sense of identity. It may even keep you alive. A study from Oregon State University found that healthy adults who worked past age 65 had an 11 percent lower risk of death from all causes than those who retired earlier. (Continuing to work even lowered the risk of dying in unhealthy adults, but by a smaller percentage.)


Retirement in the Age of the “Experience Economy”

The new trend of valuing experience over “stuff” (and what it means for retirement).

My husband and I live in Denver but spend most of our weekends in the mountains. We’re transplants from Michigan who moved to Colorado nine years ago and quickly developed a desire to stand on as many summits as possible in our new home state.

As we pursue our peak-bagging project, we’ve noticed a distinct trend: On those rare weekends when we stay home, we consistently find that we spend more money than we do when in the mountains. When we’re home for a weekend, we seem to be drawn to activities that involve spending money. We have a sudden desire to undertake some sort of home improvement project, for example. Or we’re compelled to purchase items we had no need or desire for until we found ourselves with an excess of downtime that rekindled our interest in consumerism.

These mini-spending sprees usually leave me feeling empty and consumed with buyer’s remorse. In contrast, I always feel satisfied returning home from the mountains and never regret the money spent on gas, food and other travel-related expenses. Likewise, when I determine it’s necessary to spend money on hiking equipment, I rarely feel guilty because it’s a purchase that is directly linked to a future outdoor experience.

I assumed this tendency was some sort of odd quirk. Then I started seeing articles about the so-called “Experience Economy.” A company called Eventbright coined the phrase based on a study they conducted that found that 76 percent of Millennials would rather spend money on experiences than material goods.1

I sought out more articles on the “Experience Economy” concept and realized that my preferences for spending money on mountain trips versus new clothes or home decor fit right into this phenomenon. It got me thinking—what does this mean from a retirement saving and planning perspective? Could this new trend be just the sort of shift in mindset people need to not only be better prepared financially for retirement, but also psychologically prepared and more likely to achieve contentment after they retire?


Musings on Millennials

Not so long ago, a major American car company ran advertisements featuring Ringo Starr (OK, maybe it was a bit ago) telling the consumer that “this is not your father’s Oldsmobile.”1 The point of the slogan from Oldsmobile was to tell the consumer that they had access to a better version of their product than what was available to the consumer’s father or, to put it more bluntly, they desperately needed the target market (the younger generation) to move away from having the following thought every time they see the company’s brand on a passing car: “Ugh…that behemoth is something only my father would drive.”

So in that same vein, I’ll mention to my younger readers that you probably won’t experience “your father or your mother’s retirement.” And I think that’s okay, because you’re probably not going to have your father or mother’s working career either. To quote the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “You cannot step twice into the same river.”2 So, if you’re looking backward or lamenting that you won’t have the same luxury of retirement afforded your parents or grandparents, it is time to turn your head and, as Heraclitus might say, let newer waters flow over you, as they are not of the same river and you are not the same person. And that, my friends, is as existential as we’re going to get in this piece.


Glennon Doyle And Abby Wambach On Why The Best Storytelling Happens When You Embrace The Past

By now, fans of the bestselling author Glennon Doyle and Olympic soccer star Abby Wambach are familiar with the couple’s unconventional, contagiously joyful love story. The two met for the first time during 2016’s tour of Together Live — the annual speaking tour that celebrates diverse, female voices and recognizes the power of storytelling to change the world — and were married in May. During this year’s Together Live tour (which the duo headlined, across ten U.S. cities), Doyle and Wambach joined forces with Ancestry DNA, exploring how their families’ pasts inform their own family’s future. Together Live also partnered with Ancestry as a way to encourage audiences to discover where they came from and how that impacts who they are today.

“Knowing where I have come from was truly moving. Our stories all have started somewhere and I know for me, having some questions answered allows me to know my family and myself better,” Wambach tells Bustle, just after the conclusion of the 2017 Together Live tour.

Both women — storytellers, activists, truth tellers — were surprised by the results of their AncestryDNA kits.

“My ancestors left Ireland during the Famine. They followed coal mining work to Scotland, and eventually got on a ship with their daughters to America,” says Doyle, author of the bestselling books Carry On, Warrior and Love Warrior. “They found mining work in Pennsylvania, and eventually their daughters were able to put each other through nursing school — they each worked until they had enough to put one of the sisters through, and eventually they were all able to go, other than the eldest sister, who kept working so the other four could graduate. They experienced great loss, carrying on, and taking care of family with big dreams for a better future. What’s surprising is that their story is the story of so many people now, in this moment. I believe we can honor our ancestors by welcoming the immigrants of today — with all of their grit and tenacity and belief in the promise of America.”

Wambach has recently joined the ranks of author as well, with her 2016 memoir Forward. “Fascinating is not a strong enough word to describe how I feel about my family heritage,” says Wambach. “The truth for me is that we are all immigrants from somewhere. We all began as a dream from our ancestors.”

As women who have both written deeply personal memoirs, I ask if having more information about their identity and their family history informs their storytelling — in the books they’ve written and the intimate stories the couple shares in every single city throughout the Together Tour.

“I believe that life starts when we stop running from our pain and who we are and instead surrender to it — run toward it and own it. That’s where healing begins,” says Doyle, who has written about everything from the struggles of her first marriage to how faith and feminism inform the way she parents her children. “We say: ‘Here I am, pain. I give up. All that stuff really happened. I’ll let myself feel it now. Then I’ll tell the story and let other people feel it, too.’ Everyone has a history, everyone has a story to tell. When you write your true identity, it is a love offering to the world because it helps everyone who hears it feel braver and less alone. We all need to know that we are seen and heard. We don’t need our lives to be different, or easier, we just need someone to see the pain. To know what we’ve faced and overcome.  To say: Yes. I see this. This is real. We don’t need a magician to take it all away – we just need a witness. That’s what we’re doing on the Together Tour, we are witnesses to each other’s stories, and it makes us braver in this world.”

But the effects of digging into her past goes far beyond the influencing the words Doyle puts on the page. It’s also helped inform how she understands herself, her history, and the personal stories that have gotten her to her present. “It’s cemented my belief that the moral of our collective story is love, and that love is relentlessly showing up for your people. And that the invisible thread leading the way — the force constantly rising up to take care of their people — is the women,” she says. “Being a woman is more like taking your place in a parade than it is like hiking an individual journey. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we’re alone in this challenging family, friendship, health, career stuff; that the trials we’re facing and joys we’re embracing are original. But when it comes to womanhood, there’s nothing new under the sun. Whatever it is — thousands of brave women have faced it before us, so we should learn from them. Whatever it is — thousands of brave women will face it after us, so we should teach them. I believe that we are all more alike than different. That we are all connected. That one woman’s pain is our collective pain and one’s woman’s joy and success belongs to all of us. That’s the story of our past and the story of our future.”

“When I’ve made progress, I’ve always looked back first to figure out how to move forward,” Doyle says. “I talk about my addictions because everything beautiful in my life right now came out of the ugliness back then. And still does. All that pain turned out to be the good stuff.  I used to say: ‘I’m broken. Fix me.’  And now I say: ‘And I love, love, love my beautiful, busted up past and my messy, complicated present.’ No one is ever “ready.”  The world is changed by messy, complicated people who show up before they are ready. It’s the story of my life, and the DNA of this tour: Show up exactly how you are, right now, and we’ll change the world together.”


When People Come Together, They Do Brilliant Things


50 years ago, when leaders of the civil rights movement were denied a place to gather, Hyatt Regency Atlanta opened its doors to host the 11th Annual Southern ChristianLeadership Conference – a moment that still inspires us today.

“Come Together” is a short film that commemorates this moment in time and the 50th anniversary of the Hyatt Regency brand. The film,featuring spoken word artist Tarriona “Tank” Ball, is inspired by Hyatt Regency hotels rich history of bringing groups of people together to foster connections and build community.

World of Hyatt is built on the simple idea that a little understanding goes a long way, and when we come together and demonstrate care and empathy for one another, brilliant things happen.

Learn more about Hyatt Regency Hotels at

Luvvie/Glennon/Abby trifecta picks up where Oprah left off

Three-thousand women (and five or six men) gathered at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night to collect our marching orders from Glennon, Luvvie and Abby — life gurus who, like Oprah before them, feed us wisdom and hope and need no last names.

They were in town for “Together Live,” a speaking tour headlined by the three superstars: Glennon Doyle launched the Momastery blog and wrote two New York Times best-sellers — “Love Warrior,” most recently; Luvvie Ajayi co-founded the nonprofit Red Pump Project to de-stigmatize HIV and wrote a New York Times best-seller of her own, “I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual;” and Abby Wambach who won a couple of Olympic gold medals playing soccer, wrote “Forward: A Memoir” and, last year, married Doyle.

Ajayi lives in Chicago full-time, so Tuesday was a brief visit home for her. The tour has traveled to eight other cities, including Minneapolis, Nashville, Washington, D.C., and Seattle. Each show weaves a slightly different cast of speakers together — actress Connie Britton joined the crew in Nashville, author Jen Hatmaker was onstage in Austin, Texas.

The Chicago audience heard from wellness expert Latham Thomas, U.S. Olympic fencing team member Ibtihaj Muhammad, human rights activist Alisa Roadcup and writer/activist Jamia Wilson.

The group gathered on a couch onstage and took turns sharing stories about obstacles and fears they’ve overcome on the way to figuring out their purpose in life.

“I can’t live with fear anymore,” Ajayi told us. “That can’t be what decides how I live my life.”

She declared 2015 her “Do It Anyway” year and traveled the world, immersed herself full time in writing and jumped out of a plane.

Doyle and Wambach talked about their own leaps of faith — Doyle out of a broken marriage; Wambach, who grew up thinking she could be gay or loved by God but not both, into the arms of a “Christian blogger,” as Doyle is known (somewhat dismissively, I would argue) by many.

Doyle was terrified of hurting her kids. Her job, she thought, was to stay with their dad and protect them from as many of life’s fires as she could.

But that felt both heartbreaking and false. So she decided, she said, to teach them a different lesson: That they’re fireproof.

She left her marriage. She introduced them to Wambach. And when everyone felt ready, she said, they made it official. Doyle’s daughter Tish was the one who proposed, Wambach said.

It’s a sweet story that makes for good theater. They’re still in the first few chapters, and they clearly delight in sharing it aloud with others — in part, I think, to inspire the rest of us to make decisions based on our own instincts and values and hearts.

“Stop asking other people for directions,” Doyle said, “to places they’ve never been.”

I like that.

Tuesday’s event was the second time in a week I found myself gathered in a large, beautiful room listening to an oracle of sorts.

Ta-Nehisi Coates was in Chicago last week for a series of events, and I caught him in discussion with writer Alex Kotlowitz at an Erikson Institute luncheon at the Drake Hotel.

There too, the audience sat rapt with attention as the brilliant author of “Between the World and Me” and “We Were Eight Years in Power” talked about the history of racial redlining in Chicago, his childhood in Baltimore and the rise of President Donald Trump.

Coates doesn’t traffic in hope. It’s not his job, he told Kotlowitz, to offer people hope, and it’s not something he’s particularly interested in weaving into his writing. He’s a journalist, and thus a narrator and a history teacher.

But he helps us understand.

And that’s what I left each event thinking about: the various ways in which this world helps us understand our place, our purpose, ourselves.

We have to seek out that help. Some of us find it in houses of worship. Some of us find it in art. Some of us find it in therapy. Some of us find it in all of those places and more.

I was helping my son zip up his hoodie Wednesday morning, the day after the Luvvie/Glennon/Abby-fest. He’s zipped up that hoodie 100 or so times, and it still, every once in a while, trips him up.

We took our time and got the teeth all pointing where they needed to be and made sure the fabric wasn’t sneaking where it shouldn’t be. It’s a simple thing, zipping, but it can go wrong quickly.

I thought about how habit isn’t always the best teacher. I thought about how doing something 100 times doesn’t necessarily mean you remember all the rules. I thought about how the stuff that other people seem to grasp so quickly can feel really, really bewildering.

I thought about how a little guidance can put us back on the right path — not the same path as everyone else, but the right path for us.

I thought about how grateful I am for people who help us understand.

The Health And Wealth Connection

The wealthcare and healthcare industries have been on a converging course for several years. I personally have believed this to be true and have helped major companies in both industries develop strategic alliances with one another. And, although those alliances have shown some promise, they haven’t yet created the game changing value proposition I expect. In my opinion, it is absolutely a must that wealth advisors and health advisors make the connection and figure out the best way to be rewarded for doing so. Doing that will create a triple win: for the consumer, the wealth and/or health advisor and the respective organization or institution.

Consider this. The health and wealth issues facing Americans and many other developed nations around the world are primarily behavioral. In fact, if one wants to understand either their current financial condition or their current health condition, the first place to look is into past behaviors. If one wants to predict their future financial condition or their future health condition, the first place to look is into their present behaviors. And very importantly, if one’s future condition for either looks less bright than desired, the first thing to do is to begin changing behaviors in the present.


Putting Finance in Perspective

When it comes to money, women are different.

We are different because we still only earn around 80 cents for every dollar men earn. We are different because we are still the ones likely to take time-outs from work to care for children or aging parents. We are different because we live an average seven years longer than men do. Combine all of those facts and you come to understand that because of the wage gap and the breaks when women get to the end of our careers we typically have significantly less in our 401(k)s and retirement accounts than men do – and that we need to make that money last considerably longer.

We are different in the things that we’re concerned about. We are, research has shown, more concerned than men about the economic issues of the world – and the smaller, more personal economies of our families. We are more concerned about seeing that our children and grandchildren go to college, and we want to see them grow up to be both financially savvy and independent. We are concerned about leaving a legacy – not just for our families but also for the world. And, we’re more concerned with shoring up an income stream for our retirements – to make sure that our money lasts as long as we do, even if we live a lot longer than we expect.

And we are different in the way we approach money. The oft-stated maxim that women shy away from risk is less true today than it has ever been in the past. We understand that an appropriate amount of risk may be necessary to grow our investments for the future. Yet, we prefer to do our homework, taking our time until we have all the information we need before making a decision. And though some of us are coming to the party late, we enjoy talking about it and learning about it. In fact, recent research has shown that 9 out of 10 women want to learn more about financial planning and 8 in 10 want to learn more about – and get more involved in – our investing strategies.

Read more here.