Midlife Purpose Search—You Are Not Alone

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by Kelly Martinsen

I will let you in on a secret: Lately I have found myself becoming teary eyed whenever I pass the school bus stop near my house. I have been caught behind this same bus a million times; usually I am annoyed by it because I am late for something, but recently I savor the stop. I watch the same bright-eyed, dimpled little boy and his mother waiting eagerly, and I smile as the child anxiously releases his parent’s hand and cautiously, but with excitement, climbs onto the bus. I become nostalgic as I think, “This was my life not too long ago; this was my child.” I am jealous of this mother, who is not that much younger than I am. Not jealous because her 30-something-year-old smile is devoid of wrinkles (well, maybe a little ☺)—the truth is I envy her purpose.

Ten years ago, I didn’t need a job (although I did have one) because I had a purpose: raising my children. My job took care of things like paying my mortgage, but it was never my purpose. I even left my job for a while and joined the ranks of the #SAHM (stay-at-home moms), thinking this would help me delve deeper into my purpose. My purpose was raising my beautiful children, and my performance review was their health and happiness. I loved my purpose. Yet, as I drop a forgotten lunch off for my almost senior in high school (seriously, I know I shouldn’t do that), and I wait behind the bus as the boy with the dimples gets on, I have nothing else to do but recognize that I am being “laid off.” Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know they still need me in this dicey teenage existence they are navigating through. But at the same time, they are spreading their wings and preparing to fly in search of their own purpose. However, as I allow and encourage them to do this, I find my own wings are kind of worn and a little crumpled. I seem to lack … purpose.

Are you also facing midlife angst—watching your children let go of your hand and feeling a bit lost, constantly contemplating, “What’s next for me?” If so, perhaps the following ideas can help.

Step 1-Write! Every day when I wake up, before I do anything (okay, that’s a lie—usually it’s after I’ve had my coffee), I write down talents I possess or passions and ideas that I have. I park them on paper. Doing this helped me to recognize I am creative and passionate about health and helping others.

Step 2-Be aware—opportunity doesn’t knock, but you should. Are you constantly seeing the talents you possess? Are you a good home decorator or photographer? How will you move these from paper to action? Be aware. There is always someone that will tell you what they can’t do: “I can never take a good picture”; “I don’t have the ability to beautify my home.” Maybe you already hold a job in your field but are not feeling inspired. Then be aware of what’s coming down the pike and be ready to step up. Like when the boss says, “We need a marketing brochure,” you can say, “I can do it.” Gain valuable experience.

Step 3-Write (again). Write a purpose plan. I am a believer in the law of attraction, to some degree. The late motivational author Louise Hay started her day with positive affirmations, and she credits this practice for her abundant life. I like that (a lot). Hay had affirmations and she wrote a plan, which she affectionately called her “little blue book.” That guide later became the foundation of her first bestseller. Hay found her life’s purpose, put it in writing and did not deviate from it; and in the end, her affirmations and her plan led to her abundance. Write your plan.

Step 4-Give it meaning. The steps above are what I utilized to change my life at 37 years of age after being laid off from my position as a marketer/researcher in a biotech company. I wrote in my journal and when I found the things that stood out, I focused on them, affirmed them and planned for them. I am now publisher of my own wellness magazine and have written my first book, but at times I feel the need for more purpose. So, I am giving some of the royalties from the book to nonprofit organizations.

Step 5-Adjust—your purpose changes as you do. Accept if the universe takes you in a different direction. There is no such thing as failure—simply by trying you have succeeded at something.

Now go ahead, dust off your wings (and your pen) and find your purpose.

Kelly Martinsen is publisher of Natural Awakenings Long Island and author of A Year of Inspired Living (HCI Books). Her current life purpose is to help others find daily inspiration. Martinsen’s book is available at AYearOfInspiredLiving.com and Amazon.com.

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