It’s that time of year when many women are facing the empty nest with dread and sadness. What has been a rich journey of parenthood, filled with the joys and trials of raising children, is coming to an end, and mothers feel like they will no longer have purpose in life. I know how it is because I was there at one time, not wishing I could stop time, but instead wishing I knew what to do next.
Whatever your crossroads in life, there is always something new and exciting ahead IF you make the right choices. Those important decisions must be made knowing your life’s purpose, something I discovered after I had made some ill-suited choices myself. I pursued some “good ideas” before I took the time to dig deep, connect with God’s plan and courageously step out of my comfort zone toward what He wanted for me, not what others thought I should be doing. Today, I’m sharing what I wish I’d known sooner to inspire you to dream big, step out in faith and become the amazing woman God created you to be.
• Value your experiences. Whether you have been a stay-at-home mom or a corporate executive, every chapter of your life has been orchestrated to bring you to this day. What have you learned along the way? When were you the happiest? When were you dissatisfied? What skills have you used in serving others? Do not discount anything! Even if you think you have nothing to offer the world (as I did) you have been gifted by God for something unique and meaningful.
• Explore your dreams. If you could do anything in the world without failing, what would that be? What are your deepest passions? What have you said you’d do “when the kids are gone,” or “when I have more time?” Don’t worry about how you will do it, just focus on the what at first. Key to this process is asking God to guide your thoughts, because He has your journey all planned out anyway!
I have had clients become totally stuck at this point. Fear, doubt and perfectionism cloud what they believe is possible, and they simply cannot imagine themselves beyond next week. If you are sabotaging your own dreams, ask yourself why you believe you can’t and turn your mindset around to what will happen when you do!
• Know the “why” behind your vision. Not doing this first was one of my biggest mistakes. I had a great idea to create a website for women over 50, and pursued that vision with relentless drive aided by a marketing coach. Unfortunately, after the first year I was exhausted and unsure I was even on the right path. If I’d taken the time to explore my God-given gifts, my strongest skills and my life’s purpose in the idea stage of my reinvention, I would have saved myself huge amounts of time and resources.
When you have some ideas about what you’d like to do, pick each one apart by asking yourself “What’s so great about that?” Continue asking until you uncover the core significance of your desires, not just the surface concept. The deeper you dig, the more connected you are to your purpose. For example, my deepest desire was to help women flourish, not just exist. I realized months in to my venture that I was just providing the “outer fluff” instead of inner transformation, so I made a big shift in my approach to serving my community.
• Seek guidance from a coach and mentors. Ask for help in deciphering your thoughts. This is where the how comes in. A coach can help you create a detailed plan to get you from today to the point of realizing your dreams. A mentor can share wisdom from her own experiences that will help you avoid common mistakes and short-cut many of the processes.
None of us can do life alone, and this is even more important when considering a new direction or running our own businesses. I have spent way too much time and money trying to implement do-it-yourself plans. It has only been in the times when I have worked with a coach that I have been focused, motivated, productive and fulfilled. Investing in myself has brought great rewards, proportionately according to how much I valued my own personal and professional development plan.
• Be brave, not afraid. In Genesis 2, God created woman to be an “ezer,” The Hebrew word ezer originally had two roots, “power” and “strength,” and shows that we were made to boldly use our gifts and skills to serve the world, much more significant than simply being a “helper.” Many times “ezer” is used in conjunction with being a warrior. When you feel God stirring in your heart, be brave! Step out of your comfort zone toward magnificence, not settling for mediocre. You are empowered by God to be strong and powerful (in the good sense of that word).
After that first year of my business, I took a break to pray, read and journal. I heard God telling me that I needed to get out from behind my computer and use my gifts fully, instead of hiding and devaluing myself. It had been easy to stay in my comfortable, introvert-nurturing space, but I knew I wanted to serve women on a deeper level. Soon, I found that my purpose is “to inspire passion and joy,” and since then my life has been richer and fuller because I have been living in alignment with my purpose instead of grasping at good ideas. And…I have been willing to serve in ways that made me stretch and grow beyond what I thought I was capable of doing. Serving women through coaching is my God-given purpose, and I am getting braver all the time in proclaiming my own “inner ezer.”
Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous!
Do not tremble or be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Today, I feel God stirring in my life again. I am exploring new dreams, reflecting on my career journey, asking for guidance from mentors, probing “what’s so good about” each idea, and spending time seeking God’s will, not mine. I will have to courageously step out of my comfort zone once again to pursue something bigger and better, while keeping my focus on the One who has given me the vision. Thankfully, I have the experiences of the past six years to remind me that I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me, and I will falter when I try to go it alone.
If you are at a crossroads, ready for a new adventure but not sure which way to go, I’d love to be your guide! Fill out this questionnaire and we’ll schedule a complimentary 30-minute Clarity Session to get you started on your new journey.