Lynn and Doug Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

How did you find your “heartpaths”?

We look at heartpaths as your purpose and the way you choose to live your life with meaning. It’s not necessarily a career. Sometimes heartpaths can show up in the most unlikely places.

We thought about this subject lately because we’ve spent time with hospitalized family members. Helping them at mealtime reminded me (Lynn) of an exercise I did as a trainer for the Authentic Happiness Coaching Program. The exercise involves writing a story about one moment in time when you used your strengths in a way that was meaningful. Sometimes this can uncover your heartpaths. Doug and I still use this exercise with our clients. You can think about what you would write as I share my story for you as an example.


Years ago I worked in the fashion world, doing modeling, television commercials and industrial films. I joked that I had to go into that field because I was skinny and couldn’t type. I ran myself ragged and ended up exhausted and hospitalized. At mealtime, the elderly man across the hall from me had difficulty getting the milky mush he was eating from his bowl to his mouth. The nurses and aides were understaffed, stressed and when I offered to help feed him, surprisingly, they agreed.

The old man ate slowly, so we had plenty of time to talk. I told him of my “exciting” career in the world of fashion and media. He told me of his life, rich with purpose. I was transfixed by this man who seemed so weak and vulnerable, and yet so strong. He told of a life filled with helping others, a life rich with meaning. He was happy and fulfilled — a life “well-lived.”

A part of that man stayed with me. When I got out of the hospital, I volunteered there. It felt good. I thought maybe I could go back to grad school, get my doctorate in psychology, and help lots of other people to have lives “well-lived.”

“You’ll never make it,” I was told by the grad school secretary and the academic counselor. I was competing with top students. I didn’t let those realities stop me. My reality was, by feeding that old man I found my heartpath in an unlikely place, and I was going to find a way to help others find their heartpaths, too.

Some wonderful people rallied to help me. Doug put a sign up on the refrigerator that said, “You can do it.” When I completed my PhD in psychology from the University of Minnesota, he turned it over to say, “You did it!”

As a child, mom read “The Little Engine That Could” to me. I never imagined it would be one of the most important books to help me complete grad school. Now, through doing therapy and coaching, my life’s purpose is to help others find their hearthpaths.

I believe we’re all connected in this universe, have gifts to share and the world is abundant. When you get on the right paths for you, others will help and nothing can stop you. Little do we know how far-reaching our words and actions may go.

Through sharing his wisdom with me, that elderly man in the hospital changed my life and the lives of many, many others. How ironic, all the time I thought I was feeding him — but instead, he was feeding me!

That’s my story, now let’s hear from Doug. My (Doug) story is short. I found my first heartpath by being an attorney for 25 years. It seemed unlikely that my heartpath would change but a law practice involved win-lose situations.

When I saw how much joy Lynn was having helping people to have win-win situations, I jumped in, too, even though it took some additional education. Heartpaths can change over time and you can have several. Another heartpath for me is music. Now my career “heartpath” is coaching and seeing clients reach success.

What about you? What are your heartpaths?

Some ideas: Identify when you use strengths of yours in a way that’s meaningful to you. Heartpaths mean doing what you love, but that doesn’t have to be your career. Heartpaths can change. Maybe you love parenting and that’s fulfilling for you. Maybe you like volunteering, teaching others, or being an artist. When you find your heartpaths, perseverance can help them be part of your life. We would enjoy hearing your heartpath stories. Types of “heartpaths” are unlimited and, remember, they can show up in unlikely places.

Chanhassen residents, Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at


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