Do you know that many people discover their life purpose during their most desperate hours? 

So often, we look back at negative experiences or people in our lives with regret, anger, or resentment when those experiences could be our greatest teachers. 

We have all said to ourselves at one time or another, “If only this had not happened, my life would have been so much better.”  Then, to make matters worse, we end up brooding about it, mulling it repeatedly until it becomes “our story.” 

Let me give you an example.  Here are some sentence starters.  You can fill in the rest:

  • If only I had finished college, then…
  • If only I hadn’t married him/her, then…
  • If only I had left earlier, then…
  • If only I had been stricter with her, then…
  • If only I had never let him into our lives, then…
  • If only I had stayed where I was, I would never have…

What if you could take every single bad experience in your life and find the gift in it?  What amazing things did you learn?  How has it made you who you are?  What can you do with what you learned from this experience?

I believe that it’s during these dark times that you often discover your strength and unique abilities.  It’s also how you find out just how tough and smart you are.  It’s also when you discover things about yourself that otherwise never would have been exposed.

It’s in these experiences that you may find your niche and who you are here to serve.  It’s often when you can discover your big WHY, what makes you unique and the “Expert” in your field.

I call it “Your MBA in Life Experience.”  Here is a wonderful exercise you can do to help you clarify your purpose in life. 

Looking Back to Leap Forward Exercise:

The goal is to break your lifetime out into decades like this:

1958 – 1967: Ages 1-10

1968 – 1977: Ages 11-21 (and so on)

Now, you will want to go through each decade and identify the significant events and experiences that happened to you and how they affected and transformed your life and made you who you are today.  Give each decade a theme.  Identify the main characters who had an impact on you. 

Ultimately, you should be able to connect the dots to identify why and how things occurred in divine order and, ultimately, the gift in adversity.

You can do this on a piece of paper, or you can use THIS FORM I’ve created, and your answers will come directly to me.  When I receive it, you will be invited to book a complimentary private 30-minute Life Purpose Discovery Session with me. 

I did this a while back, and it was life changing. 

One of the most amazing things I learned from doing this for myself was how my early childhood experiences really created the groundwork for almost everything that I am doing today.  I could never have learned these things in school, and every single step, mistake, experience (good and bad) was all part of this amazing dance.

We know that when we are learning to dance, sometimes the music is fabulous, and other times, it’s just not right.  Sometimes, we are spinning with joy; other times, we get our toes stepped on.  Of course, there are times we fall flat on our faces. 

What’s the secret?  It’s to learn from all of this and be grateful for every single moment because we reach mastery at one point.  This is when we are at the top of our game, everything flows and makes sense.  Yes, it can take months, years, or even a lifetime, but it’s all perfect because it’s part of the process.

By finding the gift of being abandoned and abused, I was able to heal and then use that experience to create a life I love today. Now, what could be more perfect than that?  You can read my full story here in Women 2 Women Michigan Magazine in the article, Finding the Gift in Adversity:  It’s Always There.  Also, if you complete the exercise above using the form, feel free to schedule a complimentary Life Purpose Discovery Session. Book your appointment HERE.


Katana Abbott, CFP®, is a Midlife Millionaires® Coach and Certified Social Security Claiming Specialist, and the host of Smart Women Talk. For over 35 years, Katana has helped Baby Boomers plan for retirement, including how to create lifetime income, how to optimize their Social Security benefits, launch an encore career, and prepare for long-term care.  She has written several books, created a financial literacy course, and is a popular speaker. Katana has been honored by NAWBO as one of Detroit’s Top 10 Businesswomen, receiving the Breakthrough Award. To download her new retirement guide, Three Smart Strategies to Maximize Your Retirement Income, visit