When you are over 50 and trying to identify what to do with your life, think about purpose from the perspective of the individual letters in the word.
P stands for Pain Point – What problem have you overcome that you could help others overcome as well? Is there a pain point in your life or the lives of others for which you could develop a solution and teach others to adapt it?
Jeanette Finn was sexually abused as a young girl. Today, she helps women and teens to recover from the trauma of similar abuse. Janet Black suffered from fibromyalgia, a medical condition which causes increased pain throughout her body. So she wrote a book about her experience to help others understand what their own friends and relatives must endure.
U is for Useful – How can people benefit from your natural talent, learned skills or unique life experiences. Chances are there is something you do that just comes naturally and is super-easy for you, but the same task is a real problem for other people to do or comprehend. By helping them, you can deliver quite a blessing.
Just ask Phyllis Jenkins, who was granted a second chance at life and decided to devote it to a God assignment encouraging others to share their powerful journeys of struggling and overcoming. She has altered the trajectory of hundreds of other lives.
R is for Reason – What’s the reason a problem needs to be solved? It doesn’t have to be grand, it can simply solution to a nagging problem. The book I wrote, Fifty Over 50, shares the stories of dozens of people over 50 who saw a problem or discovered a need and worked to fix it.
- One woman, Angie Higa, added a strap and a pocket to a blanket her mother made her. In doing so, she unknowingly started a business catering to savvy and fashion-conscious travelers.
- Swedish businessman Sune Larsson had a heart for new entrepreneurs who didn’t have much money, but needed to appear successful. He rented a floor of a prestigious building, divided it into separate offices, added a conference room and purchased standard office equipment for them to share. Today, the concept of shared office space is popular around the world.
- Carol Gardner elected to get a dog rather than see a therapist. She took funny photos of her English Bulldog, Zelda, that made other people smile. After creating 24 greeting cards promoting Zelda’s wisdom, she sold 1 million of them in six months.
- Richard Adams loved making up stories for his young daughters. One of their favorites was about a group of bunnies who formed their own community and culture. After his daughters grew up and insisted he write down the stories so they could be shared with others, Watership Down was born and sold a million copies.
- At age 70, Lisa Gable was embarrassed by having her bra strap fall off her shoulders. She created a simple fix, then discovered “a few” other women shared the same problem. Soon, her company was bringing in $6 million annually.
P stands for Providence – What do you think you were created by God specifically to do? You were not a mistake. You were created for a reason. The Bible tells us that you were fearfully and wonderfully made. God knitted you together in your mother’s womb and endowed you with natural talent. I suspect you have felt a tug to do something specific for a long time, but you might not think you can do it. Trust me, God does.
O stands for Others Focused – EVERY genuine purpose involves serving, leading or helping others in some way. Without a focus on others, whatever it is, it’s nothing more than a hobby for your enjoyment. While hobbies can bring rest and joy, focusing on them all the time leaves us unfulfilled.
Consider someone who loves to garden and grow beautiful flowers. If she is the sole recipient of that bounty, it may give her a smile for a while. But, giving the flowers to others or teaching people how to garden could bring her indescribable joy.
Janine Pettit loved to camp, but her husband could not stand it. Still, Janine wanted other women to experience the joy and healing power of camping with friends. So, she launched Girl Camper, a movement that is spreading like wildfire across America.
S stands for Scriptural – Is there Biblical context for your purpose? If you feel called to leave your wife and family to start over, that prompting is not from God. The best purposes will focus on the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Help people to get more of those things, and your life will be blessed in many ways.
E is for Enduring or Encouragement – Will your purpose have a lasting effect on someone or simply offer encouragement in the moment? Both are important.
I read a story about a woman in a wheelchair who would greet a half-dozen people while grocery shopping and offer encouragement to them. It really made a difference in their day. I have interviewed others, like Betty Mills, who is mentoring younger people in ways that the impact of her time and attention will have enduring impact for generations.
If you spend some time thinking about P.U.R.P.O.S.E, you’ll soon realize that you have the ability within you to change a few lives, or the lives of thousands.
If you’d like help in identifying a purpose for your life or to get help planning your next steps, I’m offering a complimentary brainstorming session to members of the Forward From 50 Facebook community. For details, connect with me on Facebook or visit 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.