T. Dallas Smith made a wonderful point in an article he wrote for Forbes this week. “Understanding your purpose can be a life-changing event, but to live in that truth, you must first be receptive to what you were put here to do,” he wrote.
Without a willingness to understand you were created to accomplish a specific purpose at a certain point in your life, it will be difficult for you to discern what that purpose may be.
According to Dallas, the attitude you maintain can be the difference between knowing your purpose and resisting it your whole life. Amen to that!
But, here’s the good news. God did not design you to accomplish a purpose you will hate. On the contrary, he equipped you with at least one natural talent you’ll need to accomplish that purpose. Because it’s a natural talent, it will be relatively easy for you to carry out.
I did not say it would be “easy” in that no effort would be required. Your purpose will challenge you in many ways, but often to keep you motivated and on course.
As with anything you do in life, your enthusiasm will vary at different points. Some days, you’ll be on fire and highly-motivated to serve in your purpose. Other days, it will be hard to concentrate because your mind will be scattered all over the place.
Some of that is self-imposed. If you have a big event coming up soon, it will be harder for you to concentrate or start new projects. On the other hand, your enemy, Satan, will also try to exert his influence in an attempt to get you to quit just before you enjoy breakthrough success.
“Next time you feel a negative attitude creeping in, pause and try to purposefully choose a different perspective,” Dallas wrote. “Even if it doesn’t feel natural at first, continuing this mindfulness practice can open many doors that would’ve otherwise stayed firmly shut simply because of your outlook.”
Your evolving purpose
Some people discern their purpose early in life and pursue it with wholehearted enthusiasm from Day 1 and continue through the rest of their lives. I’ve interviewed a few of those fortunate souls. They learned their purpose, were excited by it, and enthusiastically carry it out to this day.
However, for the vast majority of us, purpose comes in stages. You feel drawn toward a specific career field, for example. You take classes and work at jobs in that field to gain knowledge and experience.
Then, one day, everything changes. The door is shut. You lose a job or your business is forced to close. What worked so well in the past no longer works at all. You don’t know what to do. I know the feeling. I’ve been there multiple times.
That’s called a transition, and it can be very uncomfortable. But, what appears to be an ending is often a new beginning. The good news is that God never wastes an experience. The skills and knowledge gained in one chapter of life will usually be beneficial in the next.
“Sometimes, we are so busy labeling ourselves as one thing that we can’t see what else we are meant to do in this life,” Dallas explained.
That’s were people get stuck. When they classify themselves solely by what they have been doing for a particular season, it’s difficult for them to discern what they will do next. At that point, it’s important to see where God might be leading you, and then be obedient in taking steps in that direction.
I know from MANY personal experiences, when God wants you to go in a specific direction, you can go willingly or he can carry you kicking and screaming. Trust me, it’s easier if you cooperate. You’ll soon realize that what you thought would be a horrible situation is actually rather enjoyable.
“Listening to your higher power, whatever that might look like for you, can be the key to understanding your purpose,” Dallas explained. “To combat closed-minded thinking, you’ve got to get curious about yourself.
“God showed me my purpose on a typical day in a forgettable and mundane situation. If I’d been closed off from that message, I wouldn’t be doing my life’s work right now,” he added.
The same thing happened to me. The idea for Forward From 50 came out of the blue during a routine conversation with a mentor. I bared my soul with him by admitting I didn’t know what I should be doing with my life. I was stuck.
Fortunately, Vincent Pugliese suggested many people struggle with purpose later in life. As soon as he said that, I had a “WOW moment.” Not only did I realize Vincent was right, but my mind exploded with ideas regarding how to help people recover a sense of purpose in their own lives.
I always find it ironic that I purchased the domain, www.forwardfrom50.com, a full three years before I knew what to do with it. I just liked the name and thought it might make a good book title. Who knew?
God did. He knew when I was prompted to register the domain. He knew when I was struggling with a sense of purpose myself. He knew when he connected Vincent and I in that fateful Zoom call.
Dallas said many people are so enamored with their occupation or current situation that they may not see their true purpose is completely unrelated to their current job or how they see themselves.
So, to find your purpose, maintain an open mind. Think about what you like doing that gives you joy. Figure out what you’re really good at doing, especially when others tell you that you’re good at it, too. Listen to that quiet voice telling you to “turn here,” when you find yourself at a crossroads.
Recall the things you’ve done in the past that you loved doing, and don’t discount those things you’ve never done, but imagined yourself doing “someday.” Yes, it may be a bit too late for you to be an astronaut or ballerina. But, I’m willing to bet that there is something you can do today that relates to that ingrained passion from long ago.
If you need help figuring it out, just ask. I am always up for having a brainstorming session. Vincent did that with me, and it set me on a much more enjoyable course than I was traveling at that time. Talking to you about a renewed sense of purpose would be my way of paying Vincent’s kindness forward. Set up a meeting through the Forward From 50 contact page.
You were created to do something specific at this stage in your life. How exciting!
Dallas’ full article can be found at www.forbes.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.