2017 – The Year of Progress and Purpose

Oh progress…oh purpose, wherefore art thou?

Head to the bottom to go straight to the Book Giveaway!

Well, here we are at the end of 2016. It’s about time for a fresh start. We are all tired of 2016 and the baggage that came with it. Regardless of your political or philosophical mindset; there are many negative words to describe the feelings of 2016:






Death (For heaven’s sake someone please cocoon Betty White in bubble wrap for another few days, my heart can’t take it anymore!)

But as you know, it has always been easy for human nature to focus on the more negative aspects of life, we are hard wired with a negative bias. I get it – from an evolutionary point of view, being able to recall the scary is critical to survival. We wouldn’t be here if our ancestors ignored the cave drawings on the wall about the wild animals around the corner.

Whereas, some people seem to have an uncanny ability to turn the other cheek regarding the negative experiences in their lives and manage to make lemonade when handed lemons. Why? Is this mind over matter? Is it a skill set some people have but others do not? Without going all brain science on you – in short, scientists say that such behaviors, such as building in positive filters are a learned and conscious effort. Progress and purpose. P-squared.

My own anecdotal evidence tells me this is true. It would be easy to fall into wild generalizations and say “everyone” is feeling down in the dumps with no rainbow at the end of the day. However, through my travels, (and by my count, Learning Rebels traveled 23 times, for a total of 124 days in 2016), speaking with countless people at conferences, in workshops, hotels, restaurants and airplanes, the positive feelings were strong and alive. The Force is with many! (RIP Carrie Fisher)







These are positive feelings drives us all. They are what makes progress happen. We have a choice, either see life through negative filters or through positive filters. Choosing positive filters is progress. However, positive progress doesn’t suddenly raise up like the morning sun. It takes awareness, work and purpose. People need purpose, but people need to know what their purpose is. Purpose doesn’t just jump up and announce itself. “Hi, I’m PURPOSE!” We have to analyze, think, be self-aware – be emotionally connected to the world around us.

Why focus on emotion?

Because without emotion there is no attachment to a goal. Without attachment to a goal there is no progress, there is no purpose. We need to progress to evolve. I may be wrong here, but 2016 felt like this…go to work, read some emails, attend some meetings, work on tasks, go home, hide from negative TV, go to bed…wash – rinse – repeat.


Emotional attachment to our purpose gets us off the human hamster wheel, but we need structure (oh UGH!). By this I mean, developing methods that support good habits. But this is hard, what exactly is a good habit? A good habit is anything that supports progress toward your purpose – they support your Big Hairy @SS Goal (commonly known as a B-HAG) okay the “A” may not mean @SS in your organization, most likely it’s “Audacious”. But still. You get it. Most likely, you have a mix of BHAG’s professional and personal. Let’s talk about the personal for a sec., where would your destiny take you if knowledge, skill and money were not a consideration? That my friend, is your purpose. Hopefully, your personal BHAG supports that purpose. Now, let’s make some progress.

Habit/progress Template

To help with progress – here is a habit/progress template. I’m using it for myself, to help move my progress forward to achieve the BHAG’s I shared here with Nick Leffler. Nothing like sharing your goals online to light a fire under your backside. Now, that’s an emotional trigger!

Here is the template, click on the image and it will take you to the downloadable/printable file.

Progress to BHAG starts with good habits.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Determine three “good” habits you want to acquire. I mean GOOD, solid, make a difference with what matters – habits. Example: Determining you are going to begin answering and filing all emails immediately, while this has good intentions, this not the GOOD habit that is going to propel progress. Seriously, it isn’t. Emails keep on coming, regardless – what happens is we get all depressed as we seem to be in an email vortex, we get discouraged and give up when emails continue stack up. See what I mean?
  2. Think about what you really want to impact. Then DO THAT. If you meant to say that by answering all emails more rapidly, you will improve communication with your team, then focus ON THAT. Make THAT the habit. The habit you’re looking for, is to find a way to communicate in a more effective and transparent way. What habit could you develop to reflect this? Maybe it’s coffee pit stops every Wednesdays. Maybe it’s group lunch and talks (no phones allowed) once per month. Those are habits that impact communication which in turn are meaningful and have purpose for progress.
  3. Now, write out why you want to acquire these habits. Think deeper with the “why statement”. “If I develop this habit, why is will that be a good thing for my BHAG and how I want to progress through the year?” Serious questions to consider as we roll into a New Year. Create habits that are uplifting. Make them positive statements. “Losing weight” is not a positive statement. That has negativity written all over it. Be a Rebel, flip the script and think “Feed my body and mind with more colorful food”. See the difference? When you do the later, you are again, making positive progress. Feeding the body and mind are infinitely more positive than worrying about a number on a scale. Don’t you agree.

The January 2017 Book Giveaway!

Learning Rebels, you…are going to rock 2017. Why? Because we are going to have purpose and with that purpose we are going to make progress and to move us all along, I have purchased 4 books. See the giveaway plan below… each week in January one winner will be chosen. the entry requirements will be different each week so pay attention. This week an entry requires a comment. In the comment section below, share how you are going to make progress and purpose happen for you in 2017. Be sure to enter your name in giveaway below.


First Week: The Power of Habit. To further drive home this post, let’s get our habits straight! Read my review here.

Second Week: You are a Bad Ass. Stop doubting your greatness. We’re all going to head into 2017 through a positive filter!

Third Week: The Brain Fog Mix. We can’t do anything without focus so let’s focus on what matters most!

Last up: The Motivation Manifesto because, #LETSDOTHIS

Good luck and here’s to progress and purpose in 2017


2017 – The Year of Progress Book Giveaway

Shannon Tipton

Shannon Tipton

As Owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton is a skilled learning strategist, content developer and International speaker. Shannon has over 20 years of leadership experience developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures for training departments within organizations in North America, Europe and Korea.

Shannon works with people and organizations to develop learning solutions that brings actual business results. Recognized as bringing real-world expertise into the learning field, Shannon integrates technologies and social learning tools to strengthen workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

As author of “Disruptive Learning” Shannon frequently speaking at conferences across North America and Europe and ranks as one of the top 100 L&D influencers on Twitter (@stipton).

35 thoughts on “2017 – The Year of Progress and Purpose”

  1. Not sure about the details yet, but always working at being a better husband and father. But want to kick it up a notch in 2017.

  2. Tired of paying lip service or taking a slap-dash approach to health. 2017 is the year I put it all into action. Specifics are still up in the air- but taking care of me so that I’m better in the other parts of my life – that’s my purpose in 2017.

    • Hi Julie! I love this. Being a better you to support the other parts of your life. That’s so uplifting to me. Thank you for sharing! Good luck with the giveaway.

    • Thanks Brent – One can never argue with having your higher purpose be built on strengthening relationships. Thank you for sharing and good luck in the drawing.

  3. I like the idea of focusing on emotion to foster attachment to a goal. I feel like lots of books and advice that I see floating around says to leave emotion out of things – I think that’s counterproductive. We’re naturally emotional so we should leverage it.

    Progress and purpose in 2017 to me will be living more in the now and focusing on how it makes me feel. I think this will help me get further in my personal and business relationships.

    • Thanks for sharing Chris – I agree, when you read about goals, usually they jump straight to SMART goals. However, I would say that unless the goal is connected to a “why” then it’s not really smart. I really like your idea on focusing on the now and further understanding how those feelings impact you. Good call and Good luck with the giveaway!

  4. Great timing on this blog post Shannon! I’ve been spending time reflecting on 2016 and 2017 but have been side stepping the actual “so what” and “what I’m going to do about it”. This helped me to focus and identify the actual BHAGs…along with the smaller goals and habits I need to reach those BHAGs. Putting this in print for all to see to help me take one more step to committing to them 🙂

    I have a few areas that I want to focus on in 2017. My goals are 1 – Do one thing physically that kind of scares me and pushes me out of my comfort zone (this year its try rock climbing); 2 – Find my professional sweet spot and 3 – Share my sewing talent with others to help me let go of my perfectionism tendencies and share something I create with someone else.

    The habits to help me reach those goals? 1 – 2 strength sessions a week that challenge me physically and build overall strength. 2 – Every other week, connect with someone who is in a role/doing something professionally that interests me/I see myself doing. Goal is to do informational interviews to help me find my professional sweet spot. 3 – Sew something (even if it is practice) every week and every month, give a completed sewing project to someone.

    I’ve dug in to the why’s as well so they can help me stay interested and focused on these habits…each one relates to those goals that I’m “all in” on 🙂

    • Hi Chris! Thank you so much for sharing and I appreciate you taking the effort to work those thoughts out here with us. Here’s the one I love…#3 – Share my sewing talent with others to help me let go of my perfectionism tendencies and share something I create with someone else. Perfect way to use the BHAG to attach to a why. You like to sew, but why and for what? The reasons you state are great and will certainly promote progress and purpose. I really appreciate that you wrote these as positive statements, we need more positive statements for 2017. You ROCK! No pun intended. LOL.

  5. 2016 was about learning to be bold and shameless in embracing who I am and what I’m here to do. For 2017 I’ll continue that work, with a specialized focus on speaking up when I have ideas or challenges. The habit I’m building is tuning in to my inner monologue as an early indicator that I might be holding my self back. I’m specifically listening for “that’s dumb” and “they’ve for sure already thought of that, don’t bring it up or you’ll look ridiculous ” either of those messages in my brain are my cues that I need to share my thoughts instead of hiding or playing small.

    • Hi Sarah – Thank you for sharing. This is the greatest comment! The idea of recognizing triggers is foundation of changing habits, and I love that you targeted on one that will make you stronger and also help the greater good. As I’m sure you’re holding back stellar thoughts and ideas. 🙂 Good luck with the giveaway!

    • Hi Tracy! Good to see you here…and thank you for sharing. What a perfect word, transformation – wish I had thought of using it myself. It’s the perfect word to go with progress and purpose. Good luck with the giveaway!

  6. I’m going to continue my schedule to expand my blog and share content that helps people grow their brand whether it be business or personal. The purpose? To help people grow themselves as always 🙂

    I’m looking forward to a fun year!

    • Thanks for sharing Nick, and good to see you here! As being on the receiving end of your work (Nick did the heavy lifting for the Learning Rebels site, fab isn’t it?) I have no doubt you will continue to help people who have thoughts and ideas but need someone to make them come alive. Good luck with the drawing!

  7. Purpose is vital to make progress as it provides motivation – it answers the question ‘WHY’ am I doing this? Why is this goal important to me. In another of Charles Duhigg’s books – Smarter, Faster, Better – one of the two strategies he recommends to generate motivation is to ‘figure out how this tak is connected to something you care about.’

    This year I’ve used a new template to set my 2017 goals (provided to me by a friend). For the most important aspects of my life (which for me are health, habits & routines, family & friends, finances, and work) I’ve identified the following:

    1. Vision – long term state I aspire to
    2. Purpose – why this is important
    3. Roles – what role do I want to adopt in this area (e.g for Finances one of the roles I’ve defined is ‘independent woman’)
    4. Three to Thrive – what are 3 key habits to create my vision (there’s that magic number 3)
    5. Goals

    This structure helped me figure out what was really important to include in my goals based on the long-term outcome I seek (vision) and why this is important to me (purpose).

    • Thank yo for sharing this Michelle! I sounds like you and I are on the same track! Franklin Covey’s, “What Matters Most” would have you go through the same process. First understanding your roles – who are you in life? I think this is an important step. I love your Three to Thrive, what a great idea! I hope you continue to share as the month goes on. 🙂 Good luck with the Giveaway!

  8. Hi Shannon, I am interested in many different things. I learned from David Allen that the best way to get organized and move forward is to “get things out of my head and onto paper.” This weekend I re-organized documents, web links to blogs and websites etc. (including yours!) so they are at my fingertips when I want to study various topics. It really helped me clear my head and be able to make my choices on what I want to study in the training world, view on social media professionally, paint with watercolors, read and/or listen to etc. I use PowerPoint and create links on topic pages. 🙂

    • Hi Joyce! Thank you for sharing, and thank you for keep the Learning Rebels blog on your reading list! 😉

      What you have mentioned about writing things down, was a big GIANT lesson I took away from 2016. If it’s not on paper, or on my goal sheet – It’s not getting done, not only just for planning purposes, but because I think old age is hitting me sooner than anticipated and I can’t remember a thing anymore! I would have never have thought to use PPT in that way. SMART! I use a tool called Diigo to organize my topics, I don’t know what I’d do without it! Keep it up and good luck in the giveaway!

  9. Before I can make progress on anything, I must determine my path. In my case, my path for 2017 was determined on December 2, 2016 in Oakland, California in an illegal warehouse where people gathered for a party. My friends’ 20 yr old daughter and her boyfriend of 5 years died when a fire started and there was no way for them to get out. They were found with his arms around her, trying to protect her to the end. Her parents, David and Kim, have asked one thing: BE KIND.

    That is my goal and my vision. Now, being kind doesn’t mean being a wuss. My goals, besides kindness, are to help others become mindful of how they impact the world and the people around them.

    My goal is to have friends who are mindful of what they read, what they say, and what they believe.

    That, and world peace.

    • Hi Tricia – thank you for taking the time to share a story so close to your heart. I can’t think of a better way to start off the year as having Be Kind as a central point. Then, surrounding yourself with people who have that same priority. The world needs more kindness. You make an important point, being kind doesn’t mean being a wuss, you can be a sharp and valuable contributor without being rude or negative. One step closer to world peace if you ask me. Good luck with the giveaway!

  10. Currently enrolled in Rebel Coaching. Want positive steps to “Clear my plate” of negative self-beliefs that color all the interactions of life. It has been a long , obstacle ladden journey to this day. When I saw this from from Rebel buddy I knew it would add to my finding the true bottom line. My emotions are my downfall right now and they do connect to everything. Color everything. Including perceptions, mine and others. Being able to stand focused, unafraid to communicate exact needs is my goal. I think you are my conduit.

    • Hi Cheryl – Thank you for those personal thoughts. It can be hard to take yourself out of a negative spiral. This is especially hard when dealing with impostor syndrome, but we all have something positive to add, we all have value in what we do, we all have potential for greatness within our organizations and in life. In the new year, it’s time to take out a different color palate and re-color the world. Stay tuned this month for more worksheets to make this year EPIC! Good luck with the giveaway!

  11. I plan to continue to make progress and purpose happen in 2017 by sharing my vision with those around me. Whenever I share, my purpose and goals for progress, it renews my focus. When these built-in accountability partners inquire, it is a gentle reminder of my commitment to myself.

    • Hi Ebony – thank you for sharing your vision. You are spot on! Sharing your vision with your team or with an accountability partner (your partner in crime!) will give you the reminder to keep on the rails. I have a precious few people who I can depend on to ask me the hard questions about the Learning Rebels vision and keep me honest. It’s hard but worth it. Thank you again! Good luck with the giveaway!

  12. Hi Shannon,

    I liked your take on adding emotion to our purpose and particularly how we can choose our filters and how positive filters bring progress.

    I define purpose as something that truly feeds my soul. So, I don’t see true ‘purpose’ if it isn’t backed and fueled by my emotions.

    For 2017, my purpose is to be more mindful. I want to think more critically about the choices I make. I want to apply ‘being in the present moment’ to every important aspect of my life. I want to ensure mindful consumption of food, time, work, relationships, and everything else that matters.

    • Hi Taruna! I love this, “mindful consumption”. Brilliant purpose and it can be easy to say and hard to do. I appreciate your statement about critical choices, which as you have wisely determined feed into the mindful consumption. Thank you for sharing this! Good luck with the giveaway!

  13. I’m going to push back more on unreasonable demands and behaviour from stakeholders.

    It’s currently a challenge because they often don’t know they’re stakeholders because I’m not allowed to project manage my projects. In addition, stakholders often give me the wrong information because they don’t actually know the answers to my questions but don’t want to admit it.

    If anyone can advise on how to handle this I’d really appreciate it!

    • Hi Olivia! Thank you for sharing. What you are describing is a difficult situation and I think it’s a solid goal to push back more. Developing a list of stakeholder questions will help you and perhaps you can give those questions to whom ever is project managing the projects. Whoever is the conduit between you and the stakeholder needs to have a clear understanding of your needs and why those needs connect to the business goals and learning outcomes. Developing the habit of always asking may lead to the habit of those on the other side providing your with the answers you need.

      I wish you luck. Perhaps others watching this thread will have other suggestions for you. (And good luck with the drawing.)

    • Hi Olivia, Shannon has some great advice for you. I would also add, or emphasize, that if you are not managing the project directly, then the most you can do is influence others by offering up suggestions. The questions Shannon mentions are a great start. But the trick is to not get frustrated and frozen if your influence is not accepted or responded too. In corporate situations like yours, there is only so much you can do. Stay positive, and do what you can with what you are given. Then educate the project manager, and others in the business to begin building a circle of influence that will pay more attention to you when the next project rolls around.

  14. I’m probably on my own here (not that it would surprise anyone who knows me), but I’m not a fan of habits. I think they breed a laziness, doing things automatically without putting the heart and mind into it. I know you’re talking ‘good’ habits, but what’s good anyways? What someone might consider a good habit, like taking time out to do x, y and z often meaning shutting off other possibilities at that time. I’m aware at the most basic level that we do have habits and form habits that we can’t avoid, but changing those that we are able to can be really refreshing – you could almost say that one of my aims is to try to not let habits take control, but to be more in the flow. I like to grab a cuppa as soon as I get to work, but if someone calls or speaks to me that maybe where my attention should go at that point.

    Most people would call setting aside planning time at the start of a day a good habit for example. I tend to do this, but somedays I just get stuck in, sometimes I run out of steam later and re-focus then, what I try to be is open during those times for anything that needs my attention, in particular the human side of management – my team and their needs. My point here (I think I have one) is that whilst the ‘habit’ may seem like the good thing, the better thing for me is to be adaptable and to stay in the flow of things as much as possible.

    It’s very rare that I shut my door to my office, even when working tight deadlines I like to be able to be open to interruptions. I know most people would consider this crazy, but I think the true value of life is often more often in those interruptions than in the focus task that we placed the highest importance on. If we shut those interruptions off, perhaps we never get to see the one thing that we could have made the greatest difference in. If I’m honest, the headphones do go on sometimes, but for me it’s a rarity rather than my normal operating mode.

    As for 2017 I want to put myself in the best possible position to be responsive to the flow around me. That means taking care of myself, setting the environment right and making sure my attitude is right; I kinda figure if I do that then the other things will take care of themselves.

    Sorry for a ‘different’ response, but thanks for making me think 🙂

    • Hi Nigel- I would expect nothing less than a thought provoking response from you! Regarding habits – this is precisely why on the habit worksheet, I ask the question why? Why is “habit” necessary, why is it you feel you need this “habit” in your life? I think “habit” is a conceptual term for many people, and while has a definitive meaning in Oxfords Dictionary, still means something different to different people. A habit when I wake up, is to play with the dogs. Why? It makes them happy, me happy and maybe tires them out a bit so I can get some work done. To me this is a good “habit” to have. It’s not a habit I wrote down or planned, it just happened. I believe when people are looking for changes, or have lost their way to their bigger purpose – it’s time to reset and look at the things that are getting in the way of success. Whatever those things may be to that person. (Bad habits perhaps?). So this post is not about the singular/granular habits such as filing every email or planning every day, but the habits/actions that are going truly help a person get from point A to point B in life. Eating healthier, more reading that matters, more COW BELL!

      What you have written here about “putting yourself in the best possible position to be responsive”, is an excellent way to consider life. How you describe what that means to you is perfect and I would agree – having your body, mind and attitude in the right place is bound to lead to good things. Thanks for making me think!!

  15. 2016 was about experimenting with my business to determine how best to invest in its future. 2017 is all about getting stuff there out to really test what I’ve learned, incorporating all the L&D (and my own) best practices along the way. One of which will be a course for Learning Rebels, I’m happy to say 😉

    • Hi Sam! Good to see you here. The same goes for me the last two years was all about Kaizen – little tweaks to make things work. While I’m not through tweaking (who is?) I think I have a handle on what I what to happen for 2017. I’m so happy to be working with you (and others) this year. #LetsDoThis


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