Life Derailed? How to Renew Your Purpose

What’s my purpose? What was I born to do? What lights me up on the inside?

Ask me five years ago, and I would’ve spouted off assured answers to these burning questions.

But now? Not so much.

Just about four years ago, life threw my family and me a devastating curveball. We were just about recovered when, seven months later, the curveball twisted and gave us a one-two punch to the face and broke our hearts. And as we crawled and clawed and mourned our way out of the trauma, we came out stronger as a family unit, wise in ways we never wanted to be, and found a deep and profound healing in our souls.

As light dawned, we sighed a breath of relief in our new normal, until the doctor gave me an unsavory diagnosis, which led to my son’s, then my daughter’s, and now my husband’s diagnosis. Without a miracle, recovery anytime soon is as likely as riding a unicorn home from work to get dinner on the table by five.

Depressing? Um, yeah! But only if I end the story here.

You see, I believe that we have the choice to look at our lives as a victim or as a victor.

The trauma my family experienced does not define us. It does not define me, who I am as a mother, as a sister, as a daughter, as a wife, or as a friend. But most importantly, I refuse to allow it to define who I am at my core. I get to define that.

The same goes for Lyme. I am not, nor do I choose to identify with the disease that is currently afflicting me.

But it still left me feeling adrift. Those assured answers I had for what my purpose was in life? Gone. Just the shadow of them remained, unfulfilled.

Which is why in December, as I worked on my 2018 goals, I pined figuring out my purpose to the top of my list.

That lovely teal Post-It note mocked me. Every week or so, I’d glance at it, think I should do something about it. But after a few minutes, I’d go back to ignoring it. I’d deal with it later.

But then, I had one of those epiphany moments chatting with a good friend at Barnes & Noble. The conversation started innocently enough. We sat among the cozy stacks of books, sipped warm tea, and poured out our hearts. We both longed for the good ol’ days when our lives had a clear purpose and we were living the dream. I’m not sure which one of us asked in a soulful whisper, “When can our life of woe be over, so we can get back to that purpose?”

*Full disclosure* The “soulful whisper” and “life of woe” may be over dramatization. My friend is probably rolling her eyes as she read those words.

But it feels like that, doesn’t it?

I know you know what I mean. Every single one of us at one hard time or another wanted to skip back to happier days.

That’s the problem, right?

We can’t go back any more than we can launch forward to the next happy moment. We have to find a way to cope—dare I say excel—through the rough, unfair, traumatic moments.

And how we choose to handle these moments define who we will become. The victim or the victor.

Back to the epiphany.

In that moment, with the longing to get back to that derailed purpose tasting like triple chocolate lava cake in our mouths, it hit us. We can’t pick up that lost purpose any more than we can turn back the hands of time to become the person we were back then.

In the years since that old purpose, with all the experience, all the growth, all the wisdom I’ve amassed, I am not the same and neither is my friend. Therefore, our purpose cannot be the same as before.

Maybe some echo of it will bubble up—the speaking, the teaching, the laser-focused direction, the dreams of what I could be one day. But it will have a shiny, new spin to it. It will be changed for the better. Or, perhaps the majority of it will die altogether. And that’s okay, because one thing is clear, that new purpose will fit the emerging me, my emerging friend, the emerging you.

And you know what? This realization was a huge relief for us both. It released us from what tethered us to that time and has allowed us to walk forward and embrace who we have become.

This walking forward, accepting what is, and mining out that new purpose is embracing the victor.

This all begs the question, are you the victim or the victor in your life?

Usually, it’s a bit of both. That’s totally normal. But in the spirit of moving forward, answer these questions honestly: What old beliefs, old purposes, old shoulds, hold you back from embracing your life as it is now? And, what hold you back from discovering the purpose that fits you now?

Dare to let go of it. Untether. Be free in the present to be fully you.

Be brave, tell me about your process of purpose in the comments. You just might feel the same release and relief my friend and I did.


2 thoughts on “Life Derailed? How to Renew Your Purpose

  1. So crazy. This last week or two I’ve had ample nostalgic moments that left me pining for past times and people. While some of that is okay, I was feeling the “tether” you mentioned above and contemplating the question of how to be released from that. Your “solution” is SO simple yet SO profound. Perfect timing as usual my friend! Thank you!

  2. This is so good. Purpose is such an interesting thing to me. Do we figure out what it is and do it? Or do we just look around when we’re living our passionate best life and see what it is? This question is a good one. You always write such great stuff!

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