As a woman advancing into the second half of life, you may sometimes ask yourself, “What am I doing with my life?”
Or, maybe you’re thinking, “I want to feel purposeful, not just fill my time.”
Maybe your sense of purpose was all wrapped up in family and/or career, but things are changing, and you’re feeling a little lost.
We all want to feel like what we do day in and day out matters.
In fact, plenty of research has shown that identifying and pursuing a purpose improves our physical and mental wellbeing.
But, in my experience, it’s not just purpose that matters. To reap the benefits, our purposes must be anchored to specific positive impacts and the meaning they have for us.
Purpose, impact, and meaning are closely related. We need all three to fulfill our human potential and answer the question of what our life will add up to.
Whether you’re going through a life transition, reflecting on your future, or just yearning for more depth and significance, a closer look at these three enablers of wellbeing is always a good idea.
Purpose Is What You Stand For
Purpose is your intention to make the world a better place in some way. It’s a cause (or causes) you believe in and are willing to stand up for in your daily life.
It’s about adding more love to the world.
It could be something as personal and close to home as helping a loved one deal with a long illness. One of my intentions is to support my husband through chemotherapy, ongoing treatments, and positive mindsets for his chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Maybe you feel called to help underprivileged women and children in your community.
Maybe you love and want to help preserve Mother Earth in some way. Perhaps you want to protect animals in your neighborhood or in the wild.
Like me, you may love books and reading and want to promote that in your community.
Perhaps you love art or music and want to contribute beauty to the world. My friend Ruth loves music, has been teaching piano to children for over 30 years, and can’t imagine ever wanting to retire.
So, asking yourself, “Who and what do I love? What am I willing to stand for and work towards?” is how you rediscover a sense of purpose.
While purpose is about potential, impact is about reality—the unmistakable effect or influence you have on a person or a situation.
Impact Is What Happens from Your Purpose
Impact is the specific difference you make—what happens from your purpose. It’s something that can be observed and measured.
For example, my husband’s cancer keeps going into remission through the healing power of my love and positivity, plus the love and skills of his oncology team. As we all stand for his potential wellness, our impact is seen through lower lymphocyte counts in his blood and his excellent quality of life.
Ruth sees her impact when her piano students are excited about new learning and experience the joy of making music. It's obvious when they're practicing and making progress.
Ask yourself what measurable positive impact you want to make in your world.
Meaning Is Derived from Your Impact
Meaning is subjective and unique to each and every one of us. It’s about why we do what we do and the feeling we get from it.
I experience tremendous significance in standing for my husband’s wellbeing. My support’s positive impact on him is undeniable and brings me great satisfaction.
When I ask myself why, I realize it aligns with my core values of higher love, compassion, and zest for life.
Ruth derives much meaning from spreading her love of music and helping expose children to the arts. Why? Because the universal and enduring nature of music touches us all profoundly and promotes authentic self-expression.
A simple way to connect impact and meaning is to repeatedly ask yourself why and stay curious about your answers.
Your next chapter can be your most vibrant and purposeful one yet. The world is waiting to be enriched by your unique gifts—the purpose, impact, and meaning only you can bring. As author Steven Pressfield wrote in The War of Art, “Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
Purpose and Positive Mental Health | Mayo Clinic
[Please note: This is the second article in the Women Doing Life on Purpose series. If you'd like to read the first one, you can do so here.]
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Photos by: "rabbit75" at DepositPhotos (#1) & Linda Wattier (#2)