By Katie Kershman

Professional Approach to Pursuing PurposeIn following along with Judy’s sabbatical, I’ve been inspired by her “pursuit of purpose.” It’s hard not to be – she toured the world, from Washington D.C. to Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and back. But it’s not necessarily the destinations that were inspiring – it’s the experience, impact, and people she encountered that inspire me. How does she do it? Following along as she geared up for her sabbatical, I struggled to see how everything fit together. Now, having gotten the inside scoop and having seen the outcomes as they evolved, I see the professional approach – and that too is inspiring. As someone still exploring and defining my career, I want to break down Judy’s approach and find ways to apply it to my own pursuit of purpose.

In Judy’s most recent blog, Sabbaticals Are Not Vacations: Back to Work and Where to From Here, she breaks down her approach for this sabbatical into four categories:

  • Knowledge: Every day is a new learning opportunity
    In our daily activities, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. But extending our knowledge into new areas can be invigorating! One of the most rewarding learning opportunities I’ve had is taking a course on applying the psychology of human behavior to marketing (my expertise area) with the goal of long-term behavior change. Expanding my horizons was rewarding because it made me better at my chosen field while revitalizing my passion.
  • New Skills: Explore independent hands-on activities
    In sustainability, it can take time (sometimes a lot of time) to see the impact of our work. When you’re in the thick of things, that can be discouraging. Judy’s advice to explore new hands-on skills resonates. Learning new skills and seeing direct outcomes can be refreshing and can inspire you to approach your day-to-day role with more enthusiasm.
  • Behavior Change: Leave your comfort zone
    Embracing a beginner’s mindset is a great way to recharge. It gives you a chance to sit back and let someone else take charge and can also lead to out-of-the-box thinking and innovative approaches that come from seeing things for the first time. Seeing how something else is done or how someone else approaches a task can inspire new tactics for your daily activities.
  • Luck: Be open to happy accidents
    Judy’s recommendation to take advantage of luck was something I hadn’t put much thought into. But her reminder to make your luck happen by taking advantage of life’s serendipitous moments is eye opening. It’s easy to be so goal-oriented that we miss opportunities – and sometimes these opportunities are where substantial progress is made.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity to take a sabbatical. But that doesn’t mean we can’t spend every day in pursuit of our purpose. I’m invigorated by Judy’s sabbatical approach and plan to find opportunities to apply this approach in my daily routine. Think about your approach and see if you can find ways to incorporate these categories as you continue pursuing your purpose.


About the Author – Katie is a gifted storyteller and applies her skills using a multitude of outlets within marketing, including marketing strategy development, communications and content development, outreach, advertising, branding, and graphic design. At Brendle Group, Katie is the design channel and gate keeper for all externally facing media and deliverables including social media content, website presence, documents of all varieties, and engagement campaigns in numerous delivery formats.

Katie has a broad range of experience, having developed and executed marketing strategies for nationwide media campaigns as well as organizing grassroots outreach efforts. She has managed marketing budgets, facilitated radio and video commercial recordings; developed weekly, monthly, and quarterly newsletters; and coordinated with public relations staff for deliberate and targeted media impact. Her repertoire includes exceptional communication skills, creative approaches for long-term behavior change, comprehensive market research and analysis, and empowering promotional content.

A love of language and drive to leverage great communications are Katie’s tools to inspire positive change.