Life is a journey that is lived through stages starting from conception, birth to death. Developmentalists breaks down the life span into nine stages as follows (Periods of Development, Lumen Learning):
- Prenatal Development
- Infancy and Toddlerhood
- Early Childhood
- Middle Childhood
- Early Adulthood
- Middle Adulthood
- Late Adulthood
- Death and Dying
The difference between the various human development stages lies in the cognitive, psychological, social and physical abilities required and attained at each stage. If you have lived long into the adulthood stage, you will agree that living a successful life goes beyond going through the developmental life stages. It further requires identifying your passion, purpose or gifting and spending the rest of your life developing and using them to make an impact in your world. In a nutshell, this is what life really boils down to. For simplicity, this article will use the words purpose, gifting and passion interchangeably.
When it comes to developmental life stages and identifying your purpose, there are general guidelines one can follow however there are no specific blueprints dedicated just for you – it does not exist. You use the general guidelines as a building block to create your own specific blueprints for living a purposeful life. According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “the world makes way for the man who know where he is going”. We believe that the man or woman who knows where they are going are the ones that have discovered their purpose and have decided to dedicate the rest of their life serving their purpose to their world. Think about the individuals that have made significant contributions here on earth that we still talk about even after they’ve long gone.
When you closely observe individuals who we deem as successful or the ones who Ralph Waldo Emerson describes above, you will realise that these individuals know something about making upgrades as they journey through life. Making upgrades as you journey through life requires a conscious effort on our part to build up a value system that will maximise your chances at living a purposeful life while minimising and in some cases successfully eliminating value systems that will derail you further from your set objectives. It is a fight of good against evil to chart the course of your life.
Humans are programmed differently. We are not like computers where upgrades required on systems are clear as black and white. Every one of us is on a journey and for a specific purpose and no one knows what you are fully capable of – even YOU. When we avoid taking responsibilities at the age of accountability to begin making these upgrades through life journey, we only set ourselves up for a life of pain and frustration. Formal education rarely equips one with the necessary life upgrades required to be on a mission of living out our purpose. Most people only know about making these life upgrades in their adulthood and many a times, it seems like a mountain top which can never be attained hence they delay or abort the process and in turn never get to explore their purpose or the possibility of what life may be if they went after what they wanted.
Yes, there is a price to be paid. Yes, sacrifices will have to be made – sacrificing the old you to metamorphose into the new you. Yes, you will meet temporary defeat but along the way, you are making the necessary life upgrades to enable you serve your purpose to your world and in turn inspire others you might have never thought of at the start of your journey. Trust me, it will all be worth it at the end.
Bearing in mind there is no exhaustive list of how to set your sail through life but our list is made up of actions we have taken and those taken by those we admire who have made significant progress in their life journey.
- Stop Procrastination: Procrastination is known as the action of delaying or postponing something. What stops many people from making the necessary upgrades through life is because they are procrastinating on the matter. Most times the idea of procrastination can be used as a joke but if you are serious about making something out of your life, you must deal with this trait. What is it that you have put on the side to attend to later but have not yet gotten to it? You have not yet decided on when and how to address the matter. Procrastination can affect any area of our live, but it can be minimised by making firm decisions, having an accountability team, and forming a habit of continually tracking and reviewing the work you do against your set goals.
- Be Honest with Yourself: Being honest with yourself as you grow through life is one of the best decisions you will ever make for yourself. To live out your purpose, you must be willing to risk the usual and be willing to put yourself out there to be judged – but that should be less of your worry. Honesty requires being transparent with yourself – you call a spade a spade. Perhaps you want to make progress in your career or business, being honest with where you are brings clarity to you and enables you to plan for where you ultimately want to go next. It could be as simple as identifying that you need X amount of skills however you only have Y amount of skills or you require £10,000 but right now you only have £5,000. The process might be hurtful, but you will heal much quicker and be wiser through the process. Overtime, you train yourself to heed to your intuition, that powerful inner guiding spirit. This is not the time to point fingers at anyone even if you feel justified that someone may have contributed to delay you are experiencing. Being honest with yourself ensures that you do not delude yourself through life but rather puts you in a position to face facts and make the necessary adjustment required to set your sail for the journey ahead. It also ensure that you never live at the mercy of people’s opinion and judgement because you are willing to do your own honest evaluation.
- Stop being a people pleaser: There is nothing wrong with helping people and giving of your time but when you do it out of compulsion or because you do not want to disappoint others, my dear you’re now drifting on to the path of a people pleaser. This life upgrade is closely linked with being honest with yourself. I know what it feels like to be a people pleaser. Let me clarify, making meaningful contributions that adds to the happiness of others in itself is to be applauded. However when you continue to make meaningful contributions out of compulsion this now becomes a dangerous position to be in. It could also be that you are surrounded by people who pull you to the opposite direction of your goals but you rather keep them because of what they might say about you should you let go of them – probably letting them go will not only set you free but might also enable them to realise their own dreams for themselves. You may not know but people pleasing ends up doing more harm than good because you end up serving with a less authentic mission. You are less likely to be creative in finding solutions and creating new ideas because what you do is tied to certain individuals approval - that is living in bondage.
- Learn to spend time on what matters the most to you: Each day is a gift with a blank space of twenty-four hours given to you to do what you may please with it. Once each day is gone, all we are left with are memories of what has happened as we get ready to face the next day – and that’s how the years roll by from one generation to another. 'What matters the most to you' is subjective and as you grow through life, your needs and wants do change as you are learning, unlearning and relearning. How will you know what matters the most to you if you have not spent time in being honest with yourself? How will you know what matters the most to you if you are busy being a people pleaser especially with people that have no regard for you? Just imagine coming to the end of your adult life with remorse or regret at having wasted precious time and never attempting to move in the direction of your purpose. I don’t know what it feels like but from talking with people who have found themselves in this position, I can sense that it’s not a good feeling.
- Evaluate your physical and mental well-being: You owe it to yourself as much as it is in your power to be physically and mentally fit. A missing limb or a bruise is easier to detect than someone feeling down but feel that they have no choice but to put up a smile to go through their day. With the alarming rise of suicide rate, evaluating our mental well-being is now more important than ever. Someone can be look the part but on the inside, they are probably battling with depression, anxiety or other mental illness which cannot be seen with our naked eyes. It’s important to be aware of how you feel at any given moment and work on resolving on why you feel the way you do. If it’s not something you can do on your own, do find someone or a professional you trust to talk with – don’t ignore your feelings as they are relevant. Journeying towards your purpose requires that you are physically and mentally fit to work and deliver at your utmost level.