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Reflections Shared Stories Work and Career

The Second Half: Reflections on the Past Year of My Life

James Warren June 11, 2015
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Today is my birthday. And all day, my phone’s been in near-constant alert mode. Dozens of much-appreciated Facebook notifications signaled the greetings and wishes of health, success and happiness from family and friends near and far, old and new. And as I scrolled through the messages, attempting to respond to each one, I began to reflect on the past year. And what a year it was. I started to realize just how much I’ve been through. I’ve grown so much. I’ve been through some trials and tribulations. I’ve learned what it means to be vulnerable and open. I’ve experienced humility. I’ve made a bunch of mistakes. I’ve struggled with my weaknesses. I’ve started a new business. I’ve planted the seeds for success in the future. I’ve reinvented myself professionally. I’ve seen each of my sons reach important milestones in their respective journeys of boyhood and early manhood. I’ve grown closer to my family.

And as I thought about those experiences today, I realized the past year was like some kind of final big push, the “big overcoming” before being able to take a break and take a breath. And that is probably because the first four-plus decades of my life feel and seem like so much of a rush. Perspective matters, so maybe I’m just too close to it to see it differently, but I really feel like so much of my life was an attempt to escape: escape our family’s struggles, escape the fears of my childhood and escape the failures of my adulthood. Yet this last year was different. This last year felt as though I finally stopped running away from the things that I was afraid of, and started moving towards the things I wanted for my family, my life and our future. Comparing it to sports (which anybody who knows me knows I love to do), it’s as though I finished up a very rough first half of the game, with a nice little run at the end to close the gap.

Now, it’s halftime.

And this is my chance to really take stock. It’s a tremendous opportunity to figure out what worked in the first half, and also what didn’t work. I have a precious few moments to revise my game plan for the second half, rest up before I retake the field, and start turning more of my hopes and dreams into reality.

And I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the second half of my life is all about – MUST be all about – living my purpose. This means being purposeful about everything I do. Everything. I. Do.

When I think about the moments I’ve felt the most despair, frustration and loneliness, it’s when I wasn’t living my purpose. Those were moments – either of circumstance or of my own doing – in which my eyes came off the prize, and I became consumed with distractions. But for me, living with purpose doesn’t mean living in the moment, nor does it mean living in the past. It doesn’t mean obsessing over the future, either. In my view, living with purpose is actually all of those things. It’s realizing that the past, present and future are always connected and it’s not an “either-or” proposition, but rather, a “yes-and-and” type of thing. It’s becoming aware of what the moment offers, while being reflective of the lessons learned, in order to align with a brighter future.

I know this to be true, because I’ve had these realizations throughout my life. In those moments, I felt like I was time traveling – seeing the whole picture at once, for a fleeting moment, in order to inspire in me hope and endurance. I had one of these moments just the other night, when my son graduated from high school. I experienced an overflow of emotions, as I watched him celebrate with his classmates. I felt so proud of him, but also so happy for him. Collectively, we struggled on many levels to get to this point. But in that moment, I felt a sense of convergence, where the past lessons, the present joy and the future opportunity all became very clear at once. I felt like he had taken the first step towards his life of purpose, and I felt like I had played some part in his preparation for that moment. It made me proud, sad, happy and relieved all at once. In that moment, I received fresh confirmation that I was living my purpose, too.

“So, what’s your purpose, James?” Hopefully, if I’ve talked enough in the abstract, that question has popped into your mind. So, let me share it with you here and now:

My purpose is to help people reach their full potential.

And from a professional standpoint, there are three ways this comes to life:

  1. Empowering people to share their stories, find meaning in their lives, and create connections through shared experiences. This is why sharemorestories.com exists. I believe so passionately in the ideas that people are longing to have authentic relationship and dialogue, that we can learn so much from each other’s experiences, and that we can truly empathize with each other through our stories, that this becomes a central theme of my life’s work going forward.
  2. Helping brands and organizations create deeper, more meaningful engagement with their customers and stakeholders through shared stories. This integrates my past brand-building experiences with my present passion and future opportunities. I have found a wonderful reception to this concept and the company is finalizing some terrific partnerships on this front; I look forward to sharing exciting news on this in the very near future.
  3. Coaching and mentoring individuals to establish and accomplish personal and professional goals, based on a sense of purpose and clarity of vision. I love doing this so much. I get such a great feeling when I see the light in someone’s eyes, as he starts to realize that his life is much bigger than the job he has right now. I feel gratified when a person I’ve coached realizes the connection between her past, present and future, and is able to articulate her goals like never before. I feel like I’ve been through so much in my life, that at this point, I’m just dying to give the lessons to others, to help them on their journeys, so they might find some small part of it a little easier.

Now, my work is not my purpose. It’s simply one area of my life in which my purpose is manifested. My relationships are another, primarily with my family and my friends. My impact in the community is another critical area for me. As long as I can make a little progress in these areas every day and “show up” as the human I’m capable of being, then I will be fulfilling my purpose – in my own life and in the lives of those around me.

What about you? You might feel like you’ve hit your rock bottom, professionally, personally, spiritually, and/or emotionally. But I’m here to tell you: it’s just halftime.

Make no mistake about it. The first half is over. And whether you won it or lost it, there is nothing you can do about it now. You can only learn from it as you prepare for your second half. And the second half is just about ready to begin. Are you ready to compete?

It could be your career, your goals for the year at work, your relationship, your emotional health. No matter what it is, where you find yourself, or who you are, there is a second half waiting for you. If you feel beaten down, if you think the game is over, just remember this: no game was ever won in the first half, and people love a comeback story.

Well, that’s all for now. I think my second half is about to start. In fact, I think I hear the buzzer sounding. So, it’s time for me take my field, my own field of dreams.

I hope you do the same.

To stay connected, you can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr, and read more of my musings and stories on sharemorestories.com. You can also follow sharemorestories.com on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Photo credit: Wally Gobetz

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