Professor Chris Palmer, Design Your Life Workshop

Professor Chris Palmer
Office location: McKinley 226
Personal Mission Statement

The workshop is open to everyone: students, staff, faculty, alumni, and members of the public.

It is free. By all means, bring a friend!

Workshop Syllabus


  • Thursday, March 29 from 7-8:30 pm: Developing a vision for your life
  • Thursday, April 5 from 7-8:30 pm: Planning
  • Thursday, April 12 from 7-8:30 pm: Taking action and raising your productivity


All three sessions of the workshop are in MGC203-205 on the 2nd floor of the Mary Graydon Center on the main AU campus.

The workshop is free, but registration is required.

Register Now

It is important that you join the closed Facebook group Design Your Life For Success.

Here is the link:

We will use this Facebook group for discussions. Please use it to share resources and events, as well as your own experiences and ideas.

The posts will be kept private amongst our class. If you have any problems joining the group, please email me.

The workshop will explore the goals, strategies, and tactics necessary to live a successful, fulfilled, and productive life. We will reflect on our lives, discuss what really matters to us, consider how we find purpose and meaning in our lives, explore our life goals, think about our values, produce personal mission statements, examine how to take better care of ourselves, and learn effective time management skills.

The workshop will focus on the following types of questions:

  • What are my goals? How can I bring more purpose, focus, and meaning to my life? What is the best way for me to shape the person I want to become so I can contribute in a meaningful way to society and helping other people?
  • Is there a dissonance between how I spend my time and what is most important to me?
  • How can I take better care of myself (physically, mentally, morally, spiritually, socially, emotionally, and financially)?
  • What is the best way to draft a powerful and inspiring personal mission statement, so that I can begin to see my life in a fresh, focused, and revitalized way?
  • What do the words success, happiness, and fulfillment mean? How are they distinct?
  • What are the best ways of integrating the vision I have for my life, the plan I need to achieve it, and the actions to make things happen?
  • What are the benefits of taking more risks and getting outside my comfort zone?

This workshop is about actively designing our lives rather than simply drifting forward reacting to what happens to us. It is important to periodically sit back, quietly reflect, and ask if our lives are headed in the right direction. It is healthy to look at the person we have become and ask if this is really who we want to be. We should proactively shape our character, decide our future, and create a rewarding life of meaning and purpose.

We want to behave in ways that are true to our most honorable, generous, and best selves. This workshop gives you the chance to design and shape the kind of person you want to be and to articulate the goals you want to achieve in your life, both professionally and personally.


This workshop consists of three 90-minute discussion sessions on three consecutive Thursday evenings. We will strive for class sessions that are interactive, lively, engaging, creative, and fun. The workshop will be discussion-based and often involve working on your own quietly thinking and writing, or working in pairs or small groups.

Textbooks & Materials

  • Required text: Chris Palmer, Now What, Grad? Your Path to Success After College(Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). It is available in the campus bookstore and on
  • The class may also read excerpts from books by Tara Mohr, Stephen Covey, David Allen, Ben Franklin, and Victor Frankl.

Workshop Learning Outcomes

By the end of the workshop, students will be able to:

  1. Formulate what really matters to them and what values are important to them.
  2. Create and develop a personal mission statement that reflects the best possible life they want to lead, a life that is passionate, honorable, focused, purposeful, and meaningful.
  3. Include in their personal mission statements changes they plan to make to their lives to bring them into closer alignment with their life goals.
  4. Apply essential time management skills to their lives.

How the Workshop is Taught

Attendees will meet face-to-face for all three weekly classes. All course content is available online through the class website and the class Facebook site. I will use Facebook to communicate announcements and information to students.

I believe that we all learn best when participating in active learning environments. Each class will employ a number of pedagogical approaches, such as writing, role-playing, small group work, mini-lectures, peer reviews, one-on-one coaching, discussions, student presentations, interviews, and think/pair/share.

Please bring a notebook to class, so you can easily write. MGC 203-205 does not contain desks or tables.

I expect students to come to each week’s class prepared to contribute their knowledge and insights. We will all learn from each other. More than your physical presence is required in class. I’m looking for attentiveness, vitality, and enthusiasm.

I also expect students to act in a professional manner, cooperating with classmates and generally contributing in a positive way to the class. Listening, empathy, emotional maturity, and consideration of other people’s concerns are all essential to success. Please bring these qualities and values with you to class.

  • Fifty Ways to Improve Your Personal and Professional Life, Increase Your Productivity, and Feel Fulfilled
  • 30 Day Challenge Workbook

    The 30 Day Challenge Workbook is a free companion tool to the Design Your Life for Success workshop that focuses on 30 ways to improve success and productivity.

    The workbook will help students explore and master the goals, strategies, and tactics necessary to live a successful, fulfilled, and productive life.

    It will help students reflect on their lives, discuss what really matters to them, consider how they can find purpose and meaning in their lives, explore their life goals, think about their values, produce personal mission statements, examine how to take better care of work/life balance, and learn effective time management skills.


The School of Professional & Extended Studies is the seventh and newest major academic unit of American University. By establishing the School of Professional & Extended Studies in 2012, American University created a vibrant center of experiential learning that provides courses and programs that are both rigorous and practical to meet the needs of discerning learners.

The mission of American University School of Professional & Extended Studies in Washington, DC is to offer diverse learners worldwide specialized, actionable knowledge to advance their careers, organizations, and communities. The American University School of Professional & Extended Studies will be internationally renowned for transforming lives through innovative teaching, rigorous scholarship, and learning grounded in real-world experience.

Adult Career and Coaching Center

The American University School of Professional & Extended Studies’ Adult Career and Coaching Center (ACCC) is designed to reach mid-career adult learners and is part of the SPExS professional graduate programs and online learning department. ACCC staff provide learners with the tools they need to take control of their academic path, bridge the gap between classroom and personal success, and work toward holistic career development.

In addition to traditional academic advising, the ACCC provides online career resources, virtual coaching seminars, personal assessments, and noncredit leadership development courses to support career movers and changers along their path to professional and personal fulfillment. Our Career Advisors are certified trainers in MBTI (Meyers Briggs Type Indicator) and offer group or individualized training sessions.