A younger Facebook friend commented on a post I made recently. Her statement got me thinking about what advice I would give to people under 50 who are still struggling to find a purpose for their lives.
She confessed she will be 40 this year and still isn’t sure what she wants to be when she “grows up.” She seemed concerned she had not yet found her true purpose and calling. I could sense a frustration that, perhaps, she felt she was missing something, especially because people she knew seemed to be living out their purpose.
Too many people think they must be doing something wrong because they aren’t rich, influential, fulfilled or even happy at a particular stage in their lives. Rest assured it is just a passing stage. I truly believe someone’s purpose changes multiple times during the course of their lifetime:
While the timeline doesn’t play exactly the same way for everyone at the same time, it does seem to be a pattern for most people. The key stages are:
- Under 18: Do as little as possible while learning basic things. Learn how to relate to all types of people. Discover things you’re good at doing. Receive an early introduction to the working world. Test the waters by taking classes or trying activities to identify things you really like and, just as important, what you don’t.
- 18-29: Gain specific skills that can help you earn money to become self-sufficient. Begin forming a network of individuals who can open doors or make connections for you the rest of your life..Strive for opportunities to take on more responsibility. Start a professional job and begin climbing a ladder. It won’t get you far, but it will help you discover more about what you do not want to do. Enter life’s greatest crucibles — marriage and parenting. Those two experiences will teach you more about yourself and what you need to do to improve than anything else you can possibly do.
- 30-49: The chaos years. This stage is where you are tested at multiple levels to build grit, determination and endurance. It’s where “self” is boiled away in the crucible as you are forced to put the needs of others (boss, spouse, children and your parents) above your own desires. Continue investing in yourself to improve your skills and natural talent. Seek more responsibility to gain additional skills and experience. Expand your network of people from different walks of life.
- Over 50: Discover your true purpose and the destiny for which you were specifically created. Utilize your unique skills, talent and life experiences to benefit others.
Here was the advice I gave to my Facebook friend:
Your purpose will change several times over your lifetime. Right now, you are neck-deep in your “chaos years” where your entire purpose is centered on raising two incredible girls and ensuring they become well-adjusted, intelligent, resourceful and independent young women.
Soon — much faster than you realize — you’ll blink and your eaglets will have flown the nest. Then you’ll have time to pursue what you want to do when you “grow up.”
Until then, my advice is to focus on personal development and building a strong network around you. My friend, Vincent Pugliese, wrote an excellent book titled “The Wealth of Connection.” It’s chock full of ideas on how to be generous to others, which is essential to forming a network.
There is probably some idea that keeps coming to mind regarding what you can do to serve others and that super-scary idea kind of excites you. Nurture those thoughts. In time, you will feel a nudge from above indicating it is time to step out of your comfort zone and into your destiny.
You will be at the right place, at the right time, with the right ideas and the right people to help you accomplish the assignment for which you were specifically created and uniquely equipped to carry out.
Then, release the brakes and sprint toward that ultimate purpose. When you’re ready, my Forward From 50 website can offer some great inspiration and tools to help you live out that assignment. I’m looking forward to watching what God has in store for you!
Did I forget something? I’d enjoy hearing your ideas. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I shared her frustration
When I was in my 30s and 40s, it would drive me nuts when older people told me I simply needed to “be content” where I was. The advice was frustrating because I knew I had it in me to do more than I was doing. It was as though I could see my destiny, but only as a vague image looking through a heavy fog.
People of faith would quote two Bible passages to me. The first was Hebrews 13:5, which says “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”
Well it sure seemed like God forgot about me. I certainly felt underutilized. Yet, nobody offered advice or laid out a plan for my life that gave me hope something brighter was on the horizon.
The other passage was Psalm 27:14, which says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
I was so tired of waiting as the days of what I thought involved only unproductive, stress-filled work slowly passed. Little did I know that there was a purpose for my waiting. It was to do the things I outlined above.
So, if you’re under 50 and stressed about missing your calling, then pause and take a breath. God is still growing you into the man or woman he needs you to become to successfully take on the purpose he specifically created you to do.
If you’re over 50 and still wondering what you want to be when you grow up, I’d welcome an opportunity to brainstorm some ideas. I’m offering a complimentary, no-strings-attached coaching session to people in the Forward From 50 Facebook community.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of that opportunity, reach out to me on Facebook or by visiting www.forwardfrom50.com.
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.