Although Marty Munson doesn’t appear to be over 50 yet, he did pose a thought-provoking question in a blog at menshealth.com.
Are you tired of living everyone else’s dream?
Many people come to a place where they discover what they’re doing every day is not meaningful or purposeful. It may be what their parents wanted them to do. It may be something they thought they dreamed of doing. It may have just been the smartest, safest, most stable option at school, college or life, he noted.
We often wind up in our chosen career fields, not through divine revelation, but at the suggestion or urging of someone we trust. So, we go to school, get a job and and eventually find ourselves trapped in a career we find unrewarding, but stick with it because the job pays the bills.
The longer we stick to that routine, a small part of us dies every day until we are so trapped that it’s difficult to escape. Day after day, we pursue what others expect us to chase. Deviation from the course others set for us is discouraged, if not outright prohibited.
For example, even though the longings of my heart inclined toward being my own boss, I can’t count the number of times my mother encouraged me to shut down my various business ambitions and get a job — preferably one with the government so I would have “great benefits.”
When did working as a robot for someone else who determined when you had to work, when you could take off and, more importantly, how much you could earn EVER become a “benefit?”
Most of us who are snared in that trap eventually start thinking, I want to do something different.
“We’ve often been driven by other people’s decisions, opinions, expectations, obligations or pressures,” Marty wrote. “I think the day you accept that and say, I’m no longer going to live the life that I think other people want me to live, but I want to live the life that I want to live, that is the day we become chief purpose officers of our lives.”
I also love Marty’s definitions of purpose and passion. Passion makes YOU happy, while purpose makes OTHERS happy.
To find your purpose, Marty encourages people to ask themselves three questions:
- What is my passion?
- What are my strengths?
- How do I want to contribute?
Too many people think their purpose has to be grand to be great. That’s not true at all. As long as you’re helping others by adding value to their lives, you are pursuing purpose.
Marty described a school bus driver who greeted him warmly every day, and took interest in his life and studies. The driver became a father figure to him. Talk about impact! Rather than simply drive a route like a robot every day, he got to know his young passengers on a personal level — and they remembered him for that. That’s a legacy!
So many children are growing up without good, supportive father figures that they are literally starving for male attention. It’s no wonder people like Marty remember adults who paid extra attention to them.
When people turn 50, they are often in a wonderful position to pursue their true purpose with passion. The kids are either out of the house or on their way out the door. Money is often more abundant than it was in their 20s and 30s. They may be retired or simply have more time to pursue what they want to do than they did in their younger years.
“Right now, if your life is 10 percent what you want to do, 50 percent what you need to do, and 40 percent what you have to do, then how can you move up that 10 percent to 25 percent this year, or 35 percent?” Marty asked.
As you move the needle higher regarding what you want to do, your passion will grow exponentially and your purpose will become obvious. Just keep the concept of serving others in mind.
You might want to play golf all day, but I believe you’ll feel empty if that is all you are doing because the focus of your time and attention is on yourself. However, if you use your passion to help others fall in love with the game or coach them to improve their score, now you’re on the road to purpose.
I had a conversation today with a woman who lost her husband two years ago and she’s struggling with what to do now. As we chatted, it became obvious that she has a servant’s heart and loved to invite people to her house for a homemade meal. We identified several ways she could turn that passion into a genuine purpose:
- Invite people who live in isolation to her home for a good meal and socialization so they get out of their homes and meet others.
- Teach people how to cook by showing them how different ingredients and spices can enhance the flavor of their dishes. The beauty of this example is that it can spark creativity in others to develop their own favorite recipes.
- Since she raised three children by herself, she could come alongside a beleaguered single mother to teach her time-saving recipes that her kids would enjoy eating.
- Invite a recently-widowed woman over to her home for a quiet dinner and conversation. Because she understands the pain the woman is going through, she’s in an ideal position to help her new friend contend with grief.
- She also likes gardening, so inviting people to her home as she plants or cultivates her own garden can teach someone else a new skill that could bring tremendous joy to their lives.
“I think we have to recognize that if we’re using the traditional definition of success, it and purpose have to be seen as two separate pursuits. Success includes things like awards, recognition and financial wealth,” Marty explained.
“If I pursue purpose, I will get purpose in my life. And purpose includes fulfillment, it includes joy, it includes meaning,” he added. “If I choose to pursue money in my life, I will get money in my life and money brings stability, security and some safety, but it doesn’t give me the other stuff.”
If you want to chat about zeroing in on a specific purpose for your life, I’d welcome the opportunity to talk to you. For a limited time, I am offering a complimentary chatting session to help members of my Facebook group spark their creative thinking about what they can do to combine passion with purpose.
To schedule a session, visit my Calendly link at calendly.com/greggerber/forward-from-50-chat.
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.