Saturday, February 06, 2016

My New Rules for Searching for Life Purpose and Direction

I have a friend looking for new life direction.

As a certified Life Purpose Coach® I pondered how I could best help her.

I could suggest she go through Pathway to Purpose or the Conversations on Purpose 10-week assessment process either alone or with a life coach.  It's the basis of the process I went through 10 years ago and a process I became certified in.

Since then I've written my own tools for midlife women which describe my discoveries on the idea of finding purpose in midlife.

As I pondered my friend's question, I wondered why I might hesitate offering he the 10-week Life Purpose Coaching process. I think the answer is because it tends to promise women results, but sometimes fails to give them, at least in the context most women are expecting.

I was tempted to contact a few of my coaching sisters to ask if they still believed the Life Purpose Coaching process they too were certified in.  

Challenged to Ask Myself

As I pondered asking my connections their take on the program I found myself asking, "What do you want their answers to be?"

Did I want them to validate my opinions?

Then I wondered how honest they'd be. No one wants to throw anyone or any program under the bus. I decided it might be a long wait for answers I already had formulated for myself.

I then asked myself, "What would your answer be to them if they asked your take on the program?" and "Why is it you still talk about and support it if you don't believe it offers answers? What IS your suggestion for finding life purpose and direction?"

My Take

Now that I've walked through and lived out the concepts over years, I'm happy to think of myself as an unofficial Beta tester of the program. My maturity and understanding have grown in leaps to where it is today. But I'm not sure my answers are what women are hoping to hear.  Nevertheless, I offer them in hopes one woman agrees or finds clarity.

Here are some of my thoughts:

a) No one person on earth will have your answer. No one person has developed a complete tool to solve your dilemma. If they did, there would be no need for God.

b) God does inspire writers today. He did inspire the author of the program I talk about. God anoints writers to produce products so they will become tools He will use to get people in line with His plan for them.

c) There is no it. There is no "ONE thing you're put on the earth to do." That is a concept taught in the program, but a thought I disagree with. I don't know if my disagreement is with the theory as it was expressed, or that I just didn't grasp the right understanding the author intended--maybe due to my high hopes and expectations.

At the time, I was desperate for answers about life direction.  When God connected me with the program I jumped two feet in the air. I finally felt I'd found life direction--my it--to train as a life coach!

My life purpose or mission statement was one I'd identified before my training. Over time I've written it differently.  It goes something like this:
  • To encourage others.
  • To use my gift of creative communication.
  • To help women become all God's designed them to be.
  • To launch women into meaningful ministry or work.
  • To help women find direction.
  • To walk through transition with Christian women.
  • To help midlife women find hope and direction.
  • To bring the Good News to others through writing and coaching. 

In many coaching programs, I'd fail.  Why?  Because I haven't made one focused statement.

We get caught up in the idea we are to have only one mission statement.  But why not have five or six?

Missing Factors 

What is missing in these statements is how I will do this?  Who are these women are that would want to listen to me?  How would I connect with them?

More so, we look for a title, job, or official role.  So I decided mine was life coach. Miraculously, God did connect me with several women in various parts of North America and I was hired to coach them by telephone. But then my interest waned and the inquiries became fewer.  Again I was back to square one! So the disillusion set in--if my life purpose was to be a life coach why wasn't it taking off? And the question arose whether the program misled me or not.

Expressions of our Mission 

Where many of us get stuck is in figuring out how to express our mission. I think most of us are looking for a role, title, job, etc.  Many say they are ministry-minded, but even then we want to be paid for our ministry, especially if we are still of age to be in the workforce. It doesn't feel right to use our time in unpaid ministry when we could be out there adding to our pension fund. Besides, God's word tells us to not be lazy and that a man who doesn't work won't be fed.

So it's all very confusing.

We want to be validated usually with a paycheck. Even if we choose to be a stay-at-home mom or homemaker, we want to be validated that our role is important.

We at least want to be given people to serve and venues to serve them in. When our children leave home it can be complicated to know just who we are to serve next.


The reality is that the answer isn't that cut and dried. There won't necessarily be one place or one way to use our gifts and express our mission.

When a woman goes through the life coaching process she probably expects to end it with a result that says something like this:

You are meant to be a college instructor.
You are meant to write books.
You are meant to only be a nurse.
You are meant to take a job in a tourist information center.
You are meant to go back to school to become a counselor.

Then the problem comes when she struggles to get an instructor position, sputters at writing her book or writes it and sells few, and so on.

d) The answer is to be open and flexible and to use tools along the way. I still support the program because it helped me deal with some hurts, grudges, bad habits, and so on. It helped me get to know myself, find freedom from things that bogged me down, gave me clarity, and offered direction for the rest of my journey.

So here are a few tips I would recommend to my friend who is looking for life purpose and direction:

  • do identify your skills, abilities, and discern what you feel God has equipped you to do or made you sensitive toward. 
  • get rid of the idea there is only one calling, one role, one way to express your mission.
  • get rid of the idea there is some business that is waiting for you to join them or some job with your name on it.
  • use multiple tools, tests, courses, and books with the expectation that they will only be one piece of your life purpose puzzle.
  • consult God and take steps to try things out with the mindset you can change direction as God leads.
  • enjoy the process of everything you try.
  • think micro.  That means, ask God about every little thing you do, and be confident he will use it for good. Be happy with micro. 
  • rewrite your definition of success and validation. We get too hung up on paychecks. 
  • discover your top passions and when you don't know what else to do, work on them.  See where they take you.

"For the LORD God is a sun and shield; 

the LORD bestows favor and honor; 

no good thing does he withhold from 

those whose walk is blameless" 

Psalm 84:11 (NIV).