Quiet-Dream Finding

Quiz: Life Values Inventory

Thanks to your Box Lunch Lifestyle, you have permission to spend 15 minutes of today’s lunch break pursuing that quiet dream: that small something you’ve always told yourself you’re going to do.

That “small something” finally getting the attention it deserves may already be jumping for joy. But for some of us, it’s been so long since we’ve flexed our what-do-I-really-want muscles that they feel pretty weak. We could use some help discovering or reminding ourselves what matters to us personally but that (until now!) hasn’t made it onto the calendar.

These are my LVI results. Don’t judge me.

These are my LVI results. Don’t judge me.

How can this help Box Lunch Lifers? Even if the name is a little boring, I think the LVI might stir you up. Totally and completely for FREE, and in less than 10 minutes, it helps you rank general value categories, like creativity or belonging. But then it goes one step further to give you specific ideas and strategies for how to EXPRESS your values. It will get your idea-generating-juices flowing, and you might find yourself finally acting on that quiet dream as soon as today…at lunch.

[A note of special thanks to the Mathile Family Foundation whose philanthropic support makes this quiz and all the LVI resources available to the public at no charge.]

When Enough is Enough

I set a goal for the summer. I didn’t make it. Should I be hard on myself or not?

An important part of Box Lunch Lifestyle is learning—or remembering—how to listen to ourselves, and then trust what we hear.

Some of you probably know that I set a reading goal at the beginning of summer. There were about a dozen books sitting on my shelf that I just never seemed to get around to. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, each would finally get its chance.

As you can see, I was not completely successful. There were still quite a few titles in the Book Cup today.

The best book I read this summer?   Consider the Women   by my friend Debbie Blue. It’s amazing, and I don’t think you need to be a “church-y person” to appreciate the message: women have power.

The best book I read this summer? Consider the Women by my friend Debbie Blue. It’s amazing, and I don’t think you need to be a “church-y person” to appreciate the message: women have power.


Maybe you’re like me. I tend to be hard on myself. But a Box Lunch Lifestyle is a chance to be gentler: to practice listening honestly and trusting what I hear.

Did I miss my goal because I was using my time to do something else truly worthwhile? Or did the opportunity get stolen by “louder” things?

And when I answer these questions how—honestly—do I feel? Looking back, was I making satisfying choices? Or do I feel like I came up short? I’m the one setting the standards here (not the world). Am I honestly and truly meeting my own expectations?

If we listen honestly, and trust what we hear and feel, that’s as good as it gets. It isn’t always easy, but it will be real. Because it’s your answer to your question. It’s what matters to YOU.

Not Your Typical Quiet Dream


In yesterday’s Washington Post, Tim Carmen suggests that a good reason to not eat lunch at your desk is that you’re missing out on a great opportunity to build friendships.

Some of us quietly wish we had more friends at work—or even just one friend. Research shows that we expect more than a paycheck from our jobs, and meaningful relationships are part of that more-attractive kind of culture. But making friends at work doesn’t always happen by accident.

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So, maybe making new friends is YOUR quiet dream—one that’s important, but probably not the kind you tell many people about.

In his article, it sounds like TC and his coworkers left the office for restaurants, but you could leave your desk for the lunch room. Or a park. Taking a break from work talk is a good start, but making it a Box Lunch Lifestyle kind of lunch by eating food you brought from home makes it a little more personal. Maybe your leftovers become a conversation about your niece’s birthday party, or your coworker explains how he made his traditional Hmong dish. Lunch can be a comfortable way to get to know someone in a world were making adult friendships isn’t easy.

Not just socializing, but building new, meaningful relationships as part of your practice is Box-Lunch-Lifestyle-worthy if you’ve always wanted to do it but haven’t yet. These friends may become the people who will support, remind, and maybe even join you in the pursuit of other quiet dreams.


Ellis Paul: Eat Your Lunch. Write Your Song.

When you were a youngster, did you think that a musician’s life was about as glamorous as it gets? Well, the reality of being a musician is harder than you probably imagined back then, but one of the coolest parts can be yours—even if you feel stuck at an un-glamorous desk today.

If you don’t know Ellis Paul, you’re in for a treat. Bob Dylan and James Taylor have nothing on him as a songwriter, and he shares his amazing gift by teaching musicians at all ability levels. If you’ve “always wanted to write a song,” prepare to be inspired.

Photo credit: Ali Hasbach

Photo credit: Ali Hasbach


Here are some ways EP can help get your creative musical juices flowing in 15 minutes:

Forget what your 4th grade music teacher said. You’ll never know if you can write a song unless you try. Today’s not just THE day: it’s YOUR day.

Thank you for this photo, Ali Hasbach.

Podcast Pick: Side Hustle School

It’s true. I’ve heard every single episode.

It’s true. I’ve heard every single episode.


As some of you already know, I’m a big Chris Guillebeau fan. Some of the principles CG advocates in his daily Side Hustle School podcast align beautifully with Box Lunch Lifestyle:

  • You don’t have to do “work” (or lunch) the way other people do. You can make your own rules for the life you truly want.

  • Dramatic changes may not be your thing—today, or ever. But you don’t have to quit your job or completely overhaul your lifestyle to get a taste of something more personally satisfying.

  • CG often says, “Inspiration is good, but inspiration with action is so much better.” Don’t just think about your good idea. In just 15 minutes during today’s lunch break, you can start making it real.

If you’ve been percolating on a side hustle idea, let CG’s stories inspire you to actually do something about it. If you don’t have an idea yet, they’ll remind you that a whole world opportunities is waiting.

"Lunch Pail Kind of Guy" Changes the World

In this article, Dale Schroeder is described as having been a working-class, bring your lunch kind of guy. He had a quiet dream: he never had the opportunity to go to college. So DS went to work every day, and he worked hard.

And he saved more than $3 million to be awarded as tuition money after he died (in 2005).

Thirty-three people graduated from college debt-free thanks to DS. When they met recently to honor this man they’d never met, they gathered around his old lunch box.

A simple object, a quiet man, and a powerful symbol of what’s possible when we pursue what matters to us.

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Scott Perry: A Stoic's Lunch

I thought I knew what being a Stoic meant, but that changed when I met Scott Perry. (It’s much more than a way to describe your father-in-law’s demeanor, it turns out.) Great writers and thinkers throughout history have shown us how this philosophy can guide how we act.

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Philosophical? Yes. But my very basic understanding of Stoicism makes it about as un-abstract and practical as it gets.  As a coach and a Stoicism authority, Scott often reminds me that I’m in charge of only two things: 1) how I choose to think about my situation and 2) what step I’ll take next. That is:

What story am I telling myself? How will I act as a result?

Scott brilliantly asks the questions that reveal hidden stories and inspire people to create—to bring our gifts out of our heads and into the world. Do what you’re meant to do, and do it on purpose. Actually, you wouldn’t be reading this right now if Scott hadn’t nudged me to get out there and make Box Lunch Lifestyle a conversation with the world and not just an idea for someday. If I want to redefine lunch culture, I have to make it real, right? Now I am.

Scott would love to see what YOU could do ON PURPOSE in just 15 minutes, like:

  • read Scott’s blog post on agency

  • download his (FREE) Creative on Purpose Handbook: a guide to help you see with fresh eyes the point at which who you are, what you do, and where you belong intersect

  • think about the essential questions of Stoicism: What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be happy? How can I be more of both?

  • email Scott and ask to hear The Archer story (He’ll know I put you up to this.)

Scott’s Stoic lunch is 100% Box Lunch Lifestyle: it starts with believing you can flourish no matter your circumstances. Choose, and do. If you want to be a person who gets things done—more than only things that pay the bills—it’s possible. Believe, and know that people like Scott will cheer you on.

Stella Grizont: Work Happiness One Lunch at a Time

Workday lunches happen at…work. And when I first met Stella Grizont, I didn’t think it was possible to get happy at work. But I was wrong. Stella’s brand of compassion and insight into workplace culture made her the right coach to not just to help me plan for a different future, but to make the most of EVERY SINGLE WORK DAY. And she’s a riot. Listen to any of her interviews and I guarantee her attitude and spunk will make you smile no matter how you feel about your job today.

What’s Stella’s secret? Showing us how we may be looking at things backwards. Instead of first thinking about what you want to DO (specifically in your role at work), try asking yourself how you want to BE (as a human). This is very Box Lunch Lifestyle. That human-ness is something you can have today—at lunch.

Stella has generously shared these ideas for what you can do in just 15 minutes:

I’ve worked with Stella professionally, but I don’t recommend her approach to you because there’s something in it financially for me. (There isn’t.) When I listened to Stella and started to value my own happiness as much as I did my resume, my life began change. I realized that had to be a happier person first before I could be the happier-at-work person. And that could be you—TODAY. (I hope it is.)

Champion a Social Problem

The title of David Brooks’ latest TED Talk is The Lies Our Culture Tells Us About What Matters--and a Better Way to Live. Whoa. Serious. But the message, also in his new book, aligns with our Box Lunch Lifestyle less-serious pursuit of turning typical days into remarkable ones with more meaning, purpose and joy.

DB sees people finding deep satisfaction by pulling others together around important projects and causes.

Have you always wanted to be a person who unites, or heals, or rescues? If asking this question makes you feel a spark of aliveness (and not a heavy thud of “should”-type obligation) maybe your quiet dream is to finally be the person who acts on that project, cause, or social problem that speaks to you.

Quiz Follow-Up: Sparketype

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Did you try the Jonathan Field’s Sparketype™ quiz that I posted a couple weeks ago? You should. Here’s why: like me, it’s possible that you’re not being completely honest with yourself about what you really like doing.

Based on dozens of other assessments I’ve done, I’d already put myself into whatever would be the “curious/learner/nerd” category. I’ve defined myself that way for-basically-ever: the nerdy kid who grew up to be the nerdy researcher. That Sparketype, the Maven, loves learning for it’s own sake.

But the Maven was my runner-up. It turns out I’m most like the Essentialist, who feels alive from creating order from chaos. What gives me energy is what I can DO—or do better—as a result of what I learn. And I can honestly say that I feel the most like me from tasks that simplify, organize, and get whatever matters less out of the way so that I can focus on the “good stuff.” And that may be literal stuff, or cluttery, unnecessary stories we tell ourselves, or any kind of road block that keeps us living the kind of life we want to live today.

So, as an Essentialist, a satisfying day in my more-satisfying life looks different than I thought. Knowing that helps me choose, and be more confident that how I spend my time will fill me up in the way I need. At lunch, or anytime.

Instead of revealing all the Sparketypes here, I think you’ll enjoy discovering—or rediscovering—on your own which one is the most-like-you feeling, and what quiet dreams it might be offering up.

LEGO® Freestyling

A surprise from my friend Sara.

A surprise from my friend Sara.

The “oh yeah, THAT” spark of how to spend your 15 minutes of You time might be waiting in a different part of the your brain—not the part that does your taxes or remembers to call your mom.

Try freestyling with LEGO blocks instead of just building the picture on the box. A good friend did a 100-day program to UNBLOCK (pun intended) her own creativity. Most days she found her LEGO block building insightful in surprising ways. On other days it was just plain fun. Win-win. When your hands and brain do something new together, WHO (I can’t help it) knows what ideas might pop up?

Make a Hidden Galaxy List

Thank you,  Greg Rakozy , for sharing this beautiful image on  Unsplash .

Thank you, Greg Rakozy, for sharing this beautiful image on Unsplash.


Let’s say I can fold the space-time continuum and insert a day into your week. (Stay with me here.)

Nobody else knows about it. You can do whatever you want—but on your own. Other people don’t get to do this. It’s just for you.

Find some paper and start writing. Make the longest list possible of what you’d do that day. Think BIG. You’re in a SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM FOLD, for Pete’s sake! Don’t mow your lawn!

In 15 minutes, you might be surprised at what ends up o the page. There will be no idea that’s unrealistic. It might be just the seed of another smaller, quieter idea for an experience that you could make real as soon as today.