How to Find Purpose & What Matters Most: A TV News Anchor’s Journey as a Storyteller

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What Matters Most 2 U?  We get this one life – one beautiful life, at least on this earth – and after writing thousands of stories and conducting countless interviews as a former Television News Anchor, Reporter, Talk Show Host, and Community Affairs Director, this is what I’ve learned.

Are you living into your purpose? Are you focusing on your priorities? And, when it is all said and done, what life story will you leave behind? It is not too late to rewrite your story or reimagine a new chapter.

For most of my life, I have been inspired by people’s stories and what really matters to them. I told their stories as a former television news journalist, for more than 30 years, and it changed my life.

In 2000, some of those stories helped propel me to leave a coveted role as an early evening News Anchor and Health Reporter at KXAS-TV. It is an NBC owned-and-operated station in Dallas and the fifth largest television news market in the country. And, working in a “top-ten” tv news market is often a broadcast journalist’s dream.

Although I was honored when the station’s news director (the best one I ever had) offered me a long contract extension with a hefty pay raise, I had just completed the most challenging news assignment in my career – a 30-part series on cancer. And, those stories were an epiphany to me.

When you profile people staring down the monstrous and menacing diagnosis of cancer, some surviving and some succumbing to the disease, you will get a sharper focus on what matters most in life.

What Cancer Patients Taught Me About What Matters Most

Cancer patients taught me how precious life really is. When you become soberly aware that your time on earth is limited, you will understand how important it is to focus on what really matters… while we are here.

I profiled many patients, including one mother who had about a month to live. With her days numbered, every moment mattered. All that she cared about, in those final days, was loving her family, preparing them for her passing, and spending every last moment with them. And… she wished she had more time.

That cancer series helped solidify my decision to re-focus and write a new life story. I knew life was short and unpredictable. So, at the pinnacle of my journalism career as a big market television news anchor, I did something unthinkable. I did not sign a new contract. I changed my career and left the news business.

At the time, one of the national cable news networks was even considering hiring me as a co-host for a new show. And, many people in my industry couldn’t understand why I was leaving it all behind.

But I decided to give up my tv news career, in large part, to move closer to my home in the Indiana and Ohio area. I wanted to raise my daughter around her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Because for me, my family is what has always mattered most, as well as serving others in an impactful way while I am here on this earth. I wanted to share more moments with family and build a career that spoke to my heart and had even more meaning. Cancer patients reminded me that – at life’s end – nothing will matter more. (Why not focus on what matters most – starting today?)

What Matters Most? Family

My family grew up poor but rich in values and love and I didn’t want my career to prevent me from being closer to them. Also, I wanted my child to experience that family love.

I was raised by a single, divorced mother of six children who struggled to make ends meet, to keep clothes on our back, and to put food on the table on a secretary’s salary.

Although I loved my dad dearly, he had the devastating disease of alcoholism.

And, that led to a dysfunctional and financially insecure home, ultimately ending my parents’ marriage. (I am proud that my Dad stopped drinking when we were young adults and we had a great life with him. He was a good man and a loving grandfather.)

However, as children, we didn’t have much. But we always had each other. And most of my siblings and I had jobs by age 14 because we were living below the poverty level. That taught us the value of hard work.

I was the fourth born but the first to go to college, working to pay my way through school, fueled in part by the desire to get a good job to help my Mom. It was part of my life purpose.

Finally, as a young adult, I put a downpayment on Mom’s first home, something she so richly deserved. My television news career helped me reach those goals. So, hard work and persistence paid off and helped me repay Mom for some of the sacrifices that she made for us.

Also, I owe so much of my vision, compassion, and success in life to the way that she raised me. And, I never forget my roots. Family helped shape me. {What is your family story? How has it shaped or inspired your purpose?)

What Matters Most? Living Our Truth

Ironically, I never really had a desire to be on television or to be a local celebrity. I grew up as a small-town girl, raised in London Ohio near the state capital of Columbus. Although I had singing and performing talents, I never felt completely comfortable in the glare of the public spotlight.

Coming from a struggling household, I felt more driven and impassioned to help people. I had great empathy for those in need and simply had a heart for serving others. So when a tv station offered me a job as a reporter after college graduation, I knew I would have to find a way to use that platform to help people.

Within a few years, news management promoted me to a news anchor position. As I have mentioned, that eventually led me to a job as a news anchor in Dallas Texas. And, fate connected me to cancer patients who helped change my life and career.

However, at that time, I was also sad about relaying so much of the negative news in our society as a television news journalist. I had community impact in an educational and often fascinating career, but I felt compelled to share more of the good news that uplifts and inspires us – news that profiles our common humanity, our compassion, and our service to others.

That was my true purpose in my career. And, I knew that I wouldn’t be at peace until I aligned my life and career with “my why”… my “what matters most” vision.

Consequently, when I left tv news to move closer to family, I didn’t know if I would ever work in television again. (What is getting in the way of you pursuing your purpose? It’s possible to identify and remove the barriers holding you back… to change your mindset and your self-limiting beliefs.)

What Matters Most? Never Giving Up On Pursuing Our Purpose

Here is one thing I knew for sure during that period of transition. My passion and purpose drove me to live a more authentic and fulfilled life.

So, I took a leap of faith and it brought me back to my family in Ohio where I did end up working in television again. I took a behind-the-scenes job as a producer for a television ministry. And, I was able to raise my daughter around family and back in the midwestern roots that shaped me.

Surprisingly, a television news station lured me back into the news world, more than a year later, with an offer to have more local community impact. So I took an on-air position as the Community Affairs Director at WTHR-TV, the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis Indiana. And for the first time in my life, I would get to concentrate exclusively on reporting the good news or discussing critical community issues that could be life-changing for some of our viewers.

It was a chance to have a more direct impact on people’s lives through a media platform. And that spoke to my heart and my purpose. I felt a passion for my career, again. (Once you determine “what matters most”, you can start building a path toward fulfilling your purpose, as well.)

What Matters Most? Serving and Impacting Lives

Coats for Kids Campaign

I felt called to return to a news station to spotlight more of the good news that communities need to hear. And, what a blessing it was! I hosted community news segments and led community service campaigns.

My small team and I helped collect tens of thousands of coats for kids; brought gifts to families in need during the holidays; galvanized thousands to join a race against breast cancer, and helped change and save lives through “Shattering the Silence,” a 12-year campaign that I created to connect domestic abuse victims to community resources for hope and healing.

I produced several “Shattering the Silence” television news specials, dozens of “Shattering the Silence” news series, and I reported on many other community issues.

Those community projects were important enough to nab me and my team four regional Emmy awards, some national awards, and other community service honors.

Shattering the Silence Campaign

But the awards simply showed that serving the community matters most – that there are many wonderful people serving others, every day, and having an impact on people’s lives. (What impact are you having? Are you leaving a legacy of service as part of your purpose in life, career, or in your business?)

What Matters Most? Shaping a New Life Chapter in the Midst of Change

Last Day in TV News - WTHR Indianapolis

Throughout my career, what matters most continues to fuel me. I use my gifts or skill sets to serve others and to share people’s stories to inspire others to focus on their priorities, passion, and purpose.

Today, I have built a new career chapter after unexpected change. My three-decade news career ended due to changes in direction and management at my last television station.

But that didn’t end my purpose in life or diminish the journalism skills that I developed over the years.

Now, I am not going to sugarcoat this. It was a big life transition, at times stressful, and a little anxiety-producing too, but my faith – and my belief that we are all here in this world to have an impact – empowers me. As a result, I have never believed that man shapes my destiny.

So I took on the challenge, with little fear, started working to create new opportunities, and continued to focus on my purpose and what mattered most. And the lesson I learned from this?

First of all, I found a job as the Director of Public Affairs at the Indianapolis International Airport, in charge of all communications and marketing. It was a chance to build a new team, form new relationships, and grow in new areas outside of media.

Although it was a good first step in my new chapter, that position helped me realize what I truly wanted to do. I was rewriting my story. After tv news, I had been planning to be an entrepreneur, using my voice and storytelling skills to serve in new ways.

And the preparation had already begun. I had taken an entrepreneurship course shortly before leaving WTHR-TV because I knew that my tv career was ending. (Another lesson? Always be prepared. Make your plans today.)

So for the first time in my life, I created a small business: Angela Cain Communications.

As a consultant, I offer clients PR, media relations, and brand storytelling – telling the stories of what matters most for non-profits and other purpose-driven businesses that concentrate on more than just the financial bottom line. They want to build a brand with impact on others, serve their communities, and leave a legacy. I am also a certified professional coach for women helping them transform their life and career and discover what matters most to them. It has been both a scary and exciting new venture but here is something to always remember.

(What risks are you willing to take to live your purpose? Don’t let fear of change cause you to settle for less.)

What Matters Most? Our Life Stories

No matter where life takes me, I have to stay true to my purpose in media, as well. So I continue to use my voice to help others.

Why are we here on this earth if not to connect with each other… to care about each other… and to help or serve each other?

I am preparing to launch a new educational and motivational podcast with stories and interviews with experts and everyday people inspiring all of us to focus on our priorities, passion, and purpose. It is called “What Matters Most 2 U?” and could help you think about the life story you have created so far and whether or not it fulfills you…or is meaningful. If not, you may get some ideas on how to change that from other people’s stories.

As a tv journalist, I witnessed the power of people’s stories to educate, empower, and enlighten hundreds of thousands of viewers. I saw how people’s life stories made emotional connections with audiences and transformed lives.

And, through those stories, I discovered some of the issues that matter most in our lives. They include: priorities, passion and purpose as well as relationships, family, health, careers, self-improvement, education, spirituality, and community.

What Matters Most 2 U? Share Your Stories and Inspire Others

So now it’s your turn. I hope you think about what matters most 2 u and then, prepare to take action. Make a plan. Write down your goals and dreams and list some tactics you will use to move forward, one step at a time. If needed, find a coach to help you reveal your purpose and to help you stay on track. Or if you have rewritten your story in life and/or career, perhaps even as an entrepreneur like me, won’t you join me on this journey? Use your voice, too. Share your stories. Tell me the lessons you’ve learned, the obstacles you’ve overcome, and what life has taught you about what really matters.

You may even have a story about how you have changed your life by pursuing your passion and purpose. And, your story could inspire others to do the same.

Here is one example for you. It’s an inspirational story that I wrote about a life lesson from the “9/11 Singing Policeman” On How To Survive Difficult Times.

But I’d love to share your story, too. Your voice has the power to serve. And, you never know who may need to hear your words. (If I choose your story for my blog or a podcast, I will reach back out for more information.)

Also, remember. We get this one beautiful gift, this wonderful life. Make it special by focusing on What Matters Most 2 U. And then, tell me, what is your story of what matters most? 

Share your Story

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In closing, if you’d like to hear more of my insight, inspirational stories, and expert interviews to help you focus on what really matters, please subscribe to my blog and podcast.

Picture of Angela Cain

Angela Cain

Angela Cain is a certified professional coach and an Emmy award-winning former television news anchor/reporter and former executive in community affairs and public affairs. Through Angela Cain Communications, Angela serves as a PR, media relations, and brand storytelling consultant helping build brand, customers, and revenue for purpose-driven businesses and entrepreneurs. Services include marketing videos, blogs, podcast stories, storytelling workshops, media training and performance coaching, and life and career coaching for women. And, Angela’s blog and podcast share compelling content and inspirational interviews about “what matters most” in our lives and careers.

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