“You probably don’t want to make any major decisions within the first six to twelve months of widowhood,” my husband, Gary, said in one of our conversations about where his cancer was taking us.
But after he died and our adult children and children-in-law were in town for his service, they strategized over possibilities for my future. Behind my back.
With their encouragement, I resigned my job. And moved out of state. Two major decisions within a month or two of my husband passing. (Sorry, hon.)
But really, it wasn’t in resistance to Gary’s wise counsel. It was merely following my passion to write full-time — with my children presenting creative options that would allow me to do so.
This though from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
The purpose of life … is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
We are all created with specific gifts and abilities and desires, and when you throw some life experiences into the mix, it helps outline our destinies.
With that in mind, consider these 5 steps toward fulfilling your purpose:
1. Daydream on paper (or laptop)
What is it that causes you to speak with enthusiasm, puts a light in your eyes, gives you large amounts of energy when you think or talk about doing it? Capture those things in writing.
2. Determine first steps
What needs to happen first?
I continued with speaking engagements since being widowed, but mostly the opportunities found me. I needed to get more proactive in seeking them out, so I drafted an action list. And then took the first step.
Step Two is already outlined, and writing about it here reminds me that I need to get cracking on that one.
3. Find an accountability partner
I have one of these. At the beginning of most weeks — except when I’m out of town — I send a list of things I want to accomplish. At the end of the week, I let my friend know how it went.
I’m highly motivated to do as much on the list as possible because I don’t want to report failure to my accountability partner.
4. Launch out
Walk through all the doors that open for you, maybe even push on a few doors. Accept the speaking engagement. Post the first blog. Begin fundraising for your new position at that non-profit that can’t pay you a salary just yet.
5. Be willing to change
As the seasons of our lives change, our purpose changes.
Gary and I were once parents of toddlers, and now those toddlers have children of their own.
We were once partners in our non-profit, sharing a “living proactively with cancer” message. I’m still speaking a similar theme, but it’s expanded beyond cancer. And I’m doing it solo.
I was once married to a man who was fun to do life together. I’m now hiking mountain trails (alone) and taking road trips (alone) and keeping Friday date night (alone). But still my life is full. As in joyful. Peaceful. Purposeful.
When seasons change, change with them. And see if you don’t find new purpose that you’ll love just as much as the old purpose.
In his book Love Does, Bob Goff speaks to readers about finding a more purposeful life:
I bet it involves choosing something that already lights you up. Something you already think is beautiful or lasting and meaningful. Pick something you aren’t just able to do; instead, pick something you feel like you were made to do and then do lots of that.
Go ahead, get off the couch.
Because until we stop seeking comfort and start leaning into awkward, uneasy places, the things we were supposed to do with our one, available, passionate life won’t happen: The Habitat for Humanity houses we were meant to help build. The songs we were meant to write. The bridges we were meant to design. The women and children we were meant to rescue from human trafficking. The students we were meant to teach or coach.
These things won’t happen from our comfortable couches.
Call to action
This week, let’s determine what one step we can take toward accomplishing the destiny that only we can do.
And then let’s do that one thing.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10, NIV