When It’s Time to Reevaluate Your Life, Passion & Purpose

When It's Time to Reevaluate Your Life, Passion & Purpose

For the past few years, I’ve felt pretty comfortable in my skin as a working mom, entrepreneur and homeschooler. But the last year has been…different.

It’s not that I’m unhappy exactly, because my life is pretty amazing and I work really hard at choosing happiness even when things aren’t perfect. But I do feel a little less comfortable in my own skin, like I’m not exactly sure what my purpose, passion or goals are anymore.

Some of the outwork of these feelings has been obvious: the launch of the new Life Your Way, consolidating some of my other sites, sharing more of me here on the blog.

I’m also feeding the non-working mom part of myself (a side that’s been too often neglected): getting a tattoo (or two?), volunteering with Grace & Glory, studying for my role as an Essentials tutor at our Classical Conversations campus next year, and starting piano lessons in the fall.

While I’ve made a lot of progress in reclaiming what Brené Brown calls “wholeheartedness” in my life, I’m still working through the feelings. I’m finding myself doing a lot more navel gazing: seeking input from other people, journaling, and looking for exercises to help me see my life more clearly.

(This feels a bit like a mid-life crisis, but I certainly hope 32 doesn’t represent the middle of my life. Maybe it’s a mid-career crisis instead.)

Because I know through conversations with other people that I’m not alone in these feelings (although the feelings try to make me feel like I am alone…kind of like junior high all over again!), I thought I’d share some of the resources I’m turning to.

When It's Time to Reevaluate Your Life, Passion & Purpose

It’s an eclectic bunch. Some of these are specifically for entrepreneurs or business settings. Some are for Christians. Some are for women. But I’ve found them all to be really valuable in guiding me through this process:

  • Teach Your Life to Be Extraordinary from Lisa Grace Byrne
    In this course, Lisa walks participants through exercises to discover their purpose, passion, path of service and priorities. I’m enjoying the exercises, and I found those in the first chapter — defining my purposes as a woman, wife and mother — especially helpful.
  • A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman
    I loved this book so much that I kept reading passages out loud to my husband in the hopes that he would really get why I was so excited about Emily’s words and the idea of living art. Living out my purpose, my art and the love of Christ in a million little ways? Yes, please.
  • Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
    The INTJ in me loves Brené’s style even though it’s on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Lisa’s and Emily’s. With research-based data, Brené outlines exactly why vulnerability is so important for living an authentic life. I love that she has all of the facts and research and still shares her personal struggles with living wholeheartedly and how she’s overcoming them.
  • Support & Accountability
    I was invited to be part of a mastermind group a couple months ago, right as I really began diving into this process. I was considering hiring a life/business coach to work with, but I’ve found that having a place to talk with women who also run businesses and homeschool has been really helpful and encouraging both on the big picture ideas and the nitty gritty day-to-day details.

There are a ton of books/resources still on my list, and I fully expect that this self-reflection will characterize 2014 as a whole and continue into next year as I work my way through them:

When It's Time to Reevaluate Your Life, Passion & Purpose

Making time for these pursuits has been a whole ‘nother issue (as evidenced by the fact that the to-read list is longer than the read list), but one of the best parts of my new morning routine is that it includes time for listening to podcasts as well as for Bible study and self-reflection, including journaling, course work and various other personality tests and worksheets. And one of the benefits of having a baby in the house is that it’s also easier for me to make time to read as I feed or snuggle him, so I’m finding plenty of time to read both fiction and nonfiction, both of which nourish my soul in different ways.

I also think it’s worth saying that while I’ve always been a fan of personality tests and I think self-reflection can be a really important part of living a fulfilling life, I don’t want to be stuck in this place of uncertainty and searching either. That’s why I’ve already done things like arranging my piano lessons for September; all of the self-discovery in the world won’t do me any good if I don’t actually do something with the things I learn along the way!

Have you ever found yourself in a place like this, where you’re trying to figure out who you are and what your purpose is? What did you do to answer those questions?

Mandi Ehman is the blogger behind Life Your Way. She and her husband have four beautiful girls plus one baby boy, and together they live, work and homeschool on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia. Mandi loves coffee, chocolate, easy meals, beautiful things and minimalist spaces.
  • http://www.familybalancesheet.org/ Kristia

    YES! I feel like I’m hitting a mid-life crisis and I really am hitting mid-life–I turn 45 this fall. My youngest will be in 1st grade this fall and it is full day. I work in the mornings during the school year at my husband’s office so that will leave my afternoons free and for myself. It’s a gift and I want to make the most of the time. I’ve been trying to determine my purpose for some time now. I’ve been so focused on raising my kids for the past 9 years and now I’m going to have some time to focus on myself and I don’t know who she is right now.

  • nurturedmama

    I’ve been through these unknown places a couple of times (I’m not really sure I’m out of one that I’ve been sitting with for a long time now!). What helps me most is doing my best to make peace with the state of unknowing (I’m a planner, I hate unknowing) and keep doing all the things that feed and ground me. Trust that the clarity will come in its own time, and that it might look like nothing I’m expecting. Journaling, walking, meditating, getting enough rest, that all is the framework to let the trust do its work.

  • http://jodi-happytobehome.blogspot.com Jodi Pollard

    This has been a tough season for me. I turned 45 early this spring. My youngest just finished her first year of college. I had been preparing myself for empty nest and “what to do with the rest of my life” when I am no longer needed daily as mom. I found myself lost and wandering the past few months wondering who am I, what do I like to do…I had given myself wholly to being wife and mother for so many years I forgot to keep track of me. So as I still feel lost and wandering about trying to find me, I think I just need to let “me” catch up with me. If that makes any sense. Digging in to new projects and old dreams. I am back there somewhere. Just need to wait out the uncertainty until I am back to myself again.

  • Kim

    This was such a timely read for me! I just met with my pastor last week about not feeling like I’m using my gifts. I will be 45 in January, have been in the same career since 23 (I am a full time work outside of the home mom), have a 6 year old and 9 year old. There are so many things I feel led to do…I just don’t know how to go about doing them. And it’s hard to “let go and let God.” I’ve been toying with leaving my job. I am married and my husband makes a good salary. But I am so logical and am worried about all the “what ifs” if I did quit and volunteer my time. My pastor recommended Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I have spent the last week reading it and I highly recommend it! I am definitely going through a season of change and am trying to be still and listen. I have never commented on your posts but I want to let you know I appreciate your honestly and wisdom! Thank you!

  • Ana @ Lessons From Yesterday

    Thanks for sharing all those resources–I’m adding many of them to my to-read list! Much of what you said really resonated with me–I’m in a very similar place right now too.

  • Brenda Sue Rogers

    I am a 56 year old who will be “home alone” for the first time in 32 years come August! I became a single/divorced mom when my oldest was 15 and my youngest was 5. My first priority for the past 17 years has been to be mom first, working hard to make their lives as normal as possible. I have been fretting and worrying about what my life will look like for months. I am a teacher, so going back to school will still happen, but coming home to an empty house is scary. I have 4 children but the baby just got married and all 4 live far away! The closest being a 6 hour drive, the farthest being CHINA! Thanks for your openness and honesty! You are wise beyond your years! I will be reading some of the resources you listed and continue to pray that God will lead me in this new season!

    • GJ Jane

      Hi Brenda, I think about this often when the time comes. I am also a single/divorced Mum & I’ve been doing this now for nearly 7yrs. The youngest is 8 & will soon be the only one at home. I intend to travel more & give more of myself to causes & think of the Anthony Robbins exercise of take a book & pen & when he says go, write everything you’ve ever wanted to do or be or would like to have, keep going until a minute is up, as fast as you can. Dig deep & think about things you would love to have tasted, tried, learned, discovered.
      See this as a wonderful opportunity to re discover yourself. Change can be scary & unfamiliar, it can also be a fantastic opportunity to evolve & grow.
      If you could be anyone in the world who would you be?

  • http://myoverflowingcup.com Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    I think that this all something that we struggle with at one point or another. I don’t know anyone who cannot relate to what you are describing. This may seem like a very simplified answer, but for me, I have learned to let go of all of the self-imposed expectations to perform at a certain level and let God lead me day by day. My nature is to plan, but I have learned to wait and see where He leads. I think the answers are very individual based on personalities and where we are in life. A Million Little Ways sounds like a great book – I’ll need to look into that one. Thanks!

  • Donielle

    I am so right there with you! Feeling like I want more out of life but not sure which path to take.

  • Lindsey Glasheen-Crawford

    I’ll be 32 next month and I’m feeling the same way. Thanks for all the links! I’m also hoping its not a midlife crisis. I’ve realized, though, that this is the first season of my life with no school or job, just kids 24/7! I’ve completely lost myself!

  • Inger Cuthbert

    I wonder how I am supposed to move from teaching my children how to be ‘good’, and ‘do the right things’, behave a ‘certain’ way…. Aren’t I supposed to be teaching them how to be happy? Inspiring children is all I’ve ever wanted to do, which is why I love being a teacher so much, but at the expense of my own children’s happiness? I work way too many hours to mention, and am just totally wired and tired…
    Mandi, I love the inspiration and resources, and yes, I am re-evaluating my purpose and passion… When my children grow up, I want them to be…. happy.

    • GJ Jane

      Inger you sound as if you are doing a great job already! Intention is 50% of motivation, the rest is planning & consideration & action. Children are very much “monkey see, monkey do”. Allow yourself to be happy & your children will follow. It’s a tough gig as a parent to be both the educator & the psych, to understand both their needs & their wants & to be able to guide children into the world as wonderful human beings. Research & life experiences tell us role modelling is one of the primary factors for how children learn. Be kind to yourself, nurture you, celebrate you, congratulate you :) Think about all the things that make your children amazing, unique, their strengths, what you love about them; create moments of happiness, be silly at times, join in their fun (dishes & ironing & washing will always be there), play with them & enjoy watching their play; get up early & change the plan, go out & do something different, be a bit random & give them freedom.
      Happiness is a state of mind, it develops from how we feel about ourselves. When children feel good about themselves, loved, nurtured, safe & supported, when they know they are liked, happiness is natural.

  • GJ Jane

    I think its the change that tickles the vulnerability in us all. Life is like this. All of a sudden things change, it isn’t what we planned or something doesn’t go to plan, we have no control or we don’t know what to do next. It reveals our vulnerabilities a little more & if we’ve been great at keeping them hidden & covered over with staying busy & perfect, being someone’s Mum, someone’s wife & yet we haven’t thought about who we are & when those purposes & meanings we assigned to ourselves are gone & we don’t have a back up, fear sees an opportunity to jump in & reveal those vulnerabilities a bit more.
    The reality is, to do all those things, be all those roles & get to where we are, we’ve learned an awful lot, we are amazing & strong & probably forgot to realise we actually have choices about where to go & what to do next.
    Developmental theory, particularly Maslow looks at the process towards self actualisation, there are theories out there about progressing towards wisdom.
    Development tends to be focused on children, yet we are developing everyday past childhood. We are still growing, learning, discovering. Our life is whatever we invite in & shut out & its the results of all our choices.
    I felt a sense of vulnerability at approaching 40 & then it passed, there were a lot of changes & scary moments & it was either get up or stay down & I figured the view when you stay down isn’t so great & I love a view!
    If we are not living authentically then it is time to get out there & go for it. Be who you always wanted to be, life life with passion & authenticity, true to yourself, the best version of who you are, of all your choices & lessons.
    Aging is one of the most exciting times of our lives, the older we become the more wisdom & the more choices & opportunities to learn again & again & again.
    Celebrate it :)

  • Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home

    I agree, I’m totally loving our new mastermind group. It’s soooo helpful for me. Plus, I just enjoy the friendship portion of it. :)

    And you and I are on such a similar page these days, huh? I’ve been doing a lot of similar stuff (well, not the tattoo… but thinking about it, LOL!). I’m in Lisa’s full year Replenish course and loving it, about to read Brene’s book, studying Spanish mostly for the self-fulfillment, adding in regular yoga to my routine, really examining myself as a mother and wife and especially as a writer (not just a business woman/blogger, but truly as an artist), looking into some volunteer options, and just overall, doing a whole lot of introspection and navel gazing.

    It’s been good for my soul. My husband says I’m a far happier person lately, and truthfully, while there are still some issues in my life that need some major work and areas where I have a fair bit of angst, I do feel a whole lot more balanced and satisfied, simply due to the fact that I’m allowing myself to go there, care for myself, consider my own development and happiness, etc. I trust that the things that aren’t so great right now will ultimately get better, the more I allow room for this process in my life.

  • http://www.lucysmom.com Colleen @LucysMom_

    I can really relate to your thoughts here. What candor. I think it’s possible that our passions can change and that even if something is working, something different/greater is more desirable. I am dealing with similar issues now as I am on the verge of having my second child. I am a teacher…a damn good one and I love it. But I feel compelled to be at home with my children. How do I balance both passions and what is more important? What will allow me to feel the least guilty and most fulfilled? It is tough being a mom!