Living on Purpose in 2020

In Print Issues, She's Enjoying the Journey by Claudia Lovatto

Are you living your best life?

We’ve all seen the posts, hashtags and photos on Instagram. Sometimes it’s obvious what it means to live your best life. Other times, we squint our eyes to try to focus and see what about the cute, filtered Instagram post represents “living your best life.”

Last year, my 19-year-old son posted a picture of him and me on Instagram with the caption, “Me and Momma living our best life.”

Of course, the fact that my 19-year-old would post this pic of us on his social media with that caption made me a little misty-eyed. #momgoals

But what is it?

The “live your best life” movement seems to have started with a certain age group. So out of curiosity, I researched the hashtags about living your best life to see what images would come up and if there were any notable trends.

I found countless travel images as well as images of people with groups of friends at parties, events and baby showers. The groups that used this hashtag the most were Gen Xers, I’s, millennials. I happen to be a Gen Xer. No matter which category you fall under, don’t we all want to live our best life? I think they’re on to something.

What does “living your best life” mean to you?

As a DeW or a DeWd, at some point, you decided to enter the field of dentistry. DENTISTRY? One of the most vilified and feared professions. There’s been much talk of the suicide rate among dentists. It’s real. And yet, you still entered this field. Why?

I know I entered it because I love people, and, more than that, I love to help people. My first role in dentistry was dental assisting. The first big case I assisted on was a patient with advanced periodontal disease. Her teeth were as mobile as piano keys, and we saved them! This patient feared dentists due to a bad experience as a child back in the 1960s. Yet, somehow, she found her way to us, and we poured our hearts and souls into saving her teeth and helping her with her dental fears. We did it!

My boss was a young dentist, and I was his first dental assistant. We spent three years working and learning together, and that was where my love for dentistry began. Dr. Lusk and I were living our best lives back in the 1990s: two fresh young dental people just helping people. We had fun, primarily because we were both new clinicians and every day was a new adventure. Dr. Lusk is still practicing dentistry, living his best life in Farmington, New Mexico. I moved on and transitioned into speaking, consulting and education.

Back to the picture my son posted and captioned and the moments when it was captured. What was it that gave him that feeling that he and I were living our best life?

Doing his thing

Antonio had asked for a camera and professional photography kit during his senior year in high school. It was a new hobby, and he was enjoying taking senior photographs for his classmates. I happened to need a photographer for a business conference I was hosting, and, after seeing some of Antonio’s work, I decided to give him the opportunity. This event was a two-day, live training conference for DeWs and DeWds, and I had always hired a professional photographer. I was really taking a risk hiring my rowdy 19-year-old whom we nicknamed “Wreck-it Ralph.” I had no idea how he would interact at this conference.

When he showed up, he had Vans, jeans and a t-shirt on. Oh boy, we’re off to a rough start here. In no time, he was capturing moments from crazy angles, taking people outside and in areas of the building where the light was good to take professional headshots. I was too busy facilitating the event to micromanage him or knit pick his clothing choices. I just had to let him go do his thing.

What I noticed throughout the event was the attendees embracing him and complimenting me about what a great kid he was. What I saw after the event were some of the best shots of people who normally aren’t comfortable in front of the camera, including myself. Somehow, he managed to make people feel at ease, smile and look their best. Their joy shined through, and he literally captured their sparkle. Perhaps he knew he needed to dress comfortably so he could move freely and that it would make his subjects feel more at ease. Perhaps it was just luck. Either way, it worked.

It was so much fun.

He was treated with kindness and gratitude by much older business professionals and felt valued and important. He was on cloud nine. Instead of sitting in the corner on his cell phone wanting to be somewhere else with people his own age, he participated in the social events.  He was in the middle of the dance floor having fun, leading us in a line dance after a long two-day training session. And most importantly, he was with me. Perhaps the responsibility gave him a true sense of purpose. His role was important, and he owned it. He took extreme ownership of it, and it showed in the images. So, yes, at the very moment he and I were captured in that sweet mother and son pose, we were truly living our best life…on purpose!

I believe as DeWs and DeWds, we all want a sense of purpose, and we all want to be living our best life. I also believe living our best life isn’t always Instagram-worthy pics of us on exotic vacations or jumping out of airplanes. Sometimes living our best life is simply doing the right things, helping our patients achieve optimal oral health and helping our teams achieve career fulfillment under our charge.

How can we as employers and team leaders create a culture and environment where there are Instagram-worthy moments when your employees can post them using the hashtag #livingmybestlife #bestcoworkersever #ilovewhatigettodo?


Give your team clarity. What are the vision, purpose and core value systems in your company? What do you do? For whom do you do it? Why do you do it? How do you do it?

Those things are not small tasks. They require us DeWs and DeWds to dig deep and be present. They require intention and action as well as persistence and extreme accountability.

Once you take action and these values and intentions are all defined and understood by your team, celebrate the work: the moments that they hit the target or came close to it. Daily reminders of the who, what, why and how we do things help keep things on track. It helps people stay focused, it allows you as a DeW leader to live YOUR best life and it helps your teams to lead THEIR best lives.

When we have the who, what, why and how defined, we are actually living life on PURPOSE. We are creating a purpose-driven culture.

If you do not take the time to define these things and operate within them every day with your teams, your people will move on to live their best lives someplace else.

There is an old classic country song by Alan Jackson called “Living on Love”. Maybe it’s time someone wrote a new song called “Living on Purpose.”