“One can never change the past, only the hold it has on you.”
~ Merle Shain

Do you know that many people actually discover their life purpose during their most desperate hours?  Last week, I received a call from my 31-year-old daughter saying, “Mom, I believe I’ve found my purpose in life!”  She went on to tell me that everything that she has experienced to this point (good and bad), and how she is now using it all in her new job. She has never felt happier or more fulfilled. 

Having an epiphany like that is a game changer.  So often we look back at negative experiences or people in our life with regret, anger or resentment, when actually, those experiences could be our greatest teachers. 

We have all said to ourselves one-time-or-another, “If only this had not happened, my life would have been so much better.”  Think about it.  Then we end up brooding about it, mulling it over in our heads over and over, 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?  Who else did you meet from that experience?  How has it made you who you are?  How much wiser are you?  What can you do with what you learned from this experience?

It’s during these dark times, that you often discover your strength and unique abilities, you find out just how tough and smart you are, discover things about yourself that never would have been exposed otherwise.  It’s in these experiences, that my clients often find their niche and who they are to serve.  It’s often when you can discover your big WHY (you are in business) and what makes you unique and the “Expert.”

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:

Get out a pen and paper, and break your lifetime out into decades like this:

1958 – 1968: Ages 1-10

1969 – 1979: Ages 11-21 (and so on)

No go through each decade and write down the significant events and experiences that happened to you, how they affected and transformed your life and made you who you are today.  Give each decade a theme.  Identify who were the main characters who had an impact on you.

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 had learned these things in school, and every single step, mistake, experience (good and bad) were all part of this amazing dance.

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

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

When I discovered “the gift in my adversity”, I was invited to become a contributing author in the book, Thank God I – Volume 2 and my chapter was, Thank God I Was Abused.  By finding the gift in being abandoned and abused, I was able to heal and then use that experience to create wealth for myself and others all while making a difference in the world.  Now what could be more perfect than that?

You can read my full story here in Women 2 Women Michigan Magazine where my cover story was featured, Finding the Gift in Adversity:  It’s Always There. 

Please take some time to do this exercise, and if you want help with how to live your purpose brilliantly, I have two suggestions for you! 

You can take my free six-part course, Unlock Your Financial Power, where I take you through the same steps I take my clients through or you can book a free 30 minute Discovery Session with me! 

Katana Abbott, CFP®, is a Midlife Millionaire® Coach, founder of the Smart Women Companies, and the host Smart Women Talk Radio with over a million subscribers.  For over 30 years, Katana has shown women how to take charge of their life and finances and believes it’s never too early to plan for expected and unexpected events like retirement, encore careers, moving abroad, or preparing 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 Business Women, receiving the Breakthrough Award. To download her new retirement guide, Three Smart Strategies to Maximize Your Retirement Income. visit www.katanaabbott.com