David Fry, the founder of Effective Advancement Strategies, offered 10 questions to ask yourself if you sense barriers that keep you from your purpose.
Writing for Inside Indiana Business, he suggested there are times when people might have to fight for a new purpose, especially in the face of multiple losses.
I don’t think people need to fight to find a purpose as much as they do fight the urge to mope and stay in bed all day, wallowing in a gloomy, hopeless attitude. That’s what I had to do a few years ago. Facing the loss of my business, I went into a depression where I didn’t have energy to pursue much of anything.
Yet, when a new purpose presented itself, and I could get behind it, the fight was over and work became a pleasurable challenge again.
Finding a purpose to pursue is a different story. In that, I agree with David.
“It’s about determining values, drawing on passions, and filling voids that currently exist with a more fulfilling future. It takes work and it takes time, even if just a few hours,” he wrote.
Here are the 10 questions David suggests people ponder to stimulate their thoughts around identifying a genuine purpose and addressing barriers to pursuing it. I’ve provided additional insight from my own perspective.
1. Am I taking care of myself? — This is critical. You need good nutrition and plenty of sleep to even contemplate your purpose. Exercise helps, too, by stimulating blood flow to your brain.
2. Am I listening to myself? — People need to be in the right frame of mind when looking for purpose. They need to realize there is non only something for them to do, but that God has something he wants them to do. So, are you listening to the still small voice within you that is nudging you in a specific direction, even if it sounds crazy at the moment?
3. Do I need to switch up my attitude? — This was a biggie for me. When I was trapped in believing my life had no purpose, I became sullen. So, all I did most days was watch television and read online news stories. One activity is designed to suck all motivation from your system, and the other to fill you with anger and destroy any semblance of hope.
Try turning off the television and avoiding all news stories for a week. You’ll sense a near-immediate change in your attitude as well as an improvement in your creativity.
4. Are there financial concerns limiting my purpose? — I can see where secular people may get wrapped up in thinking they would need $X in resources to do something that gives them purpose. But, people of faith can take a different approach. If God gives you an assignment, you can rest assured that he will finance it entirely by providing the resources you need, when you need them, to advance that assignment.
5. Do I have a community supporting this purpose? — That can involve two communities. The first is a community that needs the product or service you are providing. Thanks to the internet, we now have a global market rather than a street corner on Anytown. If your purpose is to help left-handed basket weavers produce intricate designs, you’ll have a much larger audience online than trying to generate business within 50 miles of your current location.
The other community, is the group of people you need to support YOU as you pursue your purpose. Like David said, it won’t be easy and there will be times you will have to fight to overcome obstacles. Remember, faith-based people have a real enemy thwarting their plans to discourage them. You will need a few people, at minimum, who believe in you and are willing to whisper encouragement to you to persevere despite obstacles.
6. Am I willing to pursue my purpose and not look back? — This is a good one. A purpose is something that burns in you. It’s a God-assignment that only you can do based on your natural talent, learned skills and unique life experiences. It’s not something you “try” for a while. You realize the boss wants you to do something, so you do your best to carry it out in a timely manner.
Remember the wisdom told to Luke Skywalker when he was discouraged in the first Star Wars movie. Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
7. Have I prioritized my purpose? — Another excellent question. Once I knew what my purpose was in creating Forward From 50, I was still coming up with all kinds of excuses to delay launching the platform. Having a purpose and not pursuing it is even more difficult than not having a purpose at all. Why? Because you start beating yourself up for not doing what you know needs to be done.
To overcome that, think of all the people who will benefit as a result of your purpose. There is someone struggling with a problem or seeking an answer right now, and you have the solution or answer they’re looking for. Don’t delay. Identify one important thing to do each day, and focus your attention on accomplishing just that one thing. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in a month.
8. Will I trust the outcome? — Perhaps David is asking whether you trust yourself enough to come up with the right solution? That’s a valid concern. There are a plethora of “experts” who want you to hire them, buy their course, consult with them, use their product, etc. You can go broke and wind up experiencing decision constipation waiting for things to be perfect.
Rely on the Holy Spirit for direction. It’s as simple as asking the question, then waiting to hear the small voice telling you what to do. Often the answer comes immediately. But, if you want confirmation, then ask for that, too. That’s where having a mastermind group of supporters to lean on for advice is invaluable.
9. Am I willing to broaden my mental perspective? — Remember, God doesn’t call the equipped, rather he equips people he calls to do something specific. You’re not going to know everything right out of the gate. I had to get training to learn how to use new software. I also needed to hire an expert who knew how to navigate through the insane technology needed to create a website today.
When you are trying to help people, you only need to be a step or two ahead of them. But, continue learning as you go and be open to new insight so you can pivot in new directions when necessary. It’s easier to steer a car in motion than when it is parked in the garage.
10. Am I willing to take the next steps? — I’ll disagree with David on this one. People who focus on the next steps (plural) often get bogged down in plotting an entire roadmap to get to their destination. Soon they aren’t going anywhere because they always need something else in order to get started.
The better question is, are you willing to take THE next step, and that’s often the all-important first step. That first step initiates momentum. Then it’s as simple as taking the best next step and repeating the process. Soon you’ll be chugging along.
God will not usually give you all the steps you need to take right from the start. Remember what I said about having an enemy who wants to thwart your purpose and discourage you? God usually gives you one step to take at a time so that HE can thwart your enemy instead.
“Finding your purpose when it’s buried in all of our ‘busyness’ requires we delve deeply while remaining open-minded. Unfortunately, we’ve become a society stimulated by instant gratification and consumed with multi-tasking to do it all,” David wrote. “We can overlook something as simple as purpose.
“Take the time, and give yourself the gift. Ultimately, pursuing your purpose will give you hope, promise, and meaning, as well as improve your mental health,” he added.
David’s article can be found at Inside Indiana Business.
After closing his business and enduring several painful years of uncertainty regarding what to do with his life, Greg founded Forward From 50 to help men and women over 50 to live more purposeful lives by pursuing things they are passionate about. A Wisconsin native, Greg currently lives in Arizona.