05/13/2013 07:52 EDT | Updated 07/13/2013 05:12 EDT

What's Your Purpose in Life?


I have been alive 22,630 days, of which 14,600 have been spent being married to the same man and 12,410 on raising children. Wow. If I live just ten more years, it means I have only 3,650 days left. Doesn't seem much in comparison to the other numbers, does it?

And that is the point that author Robert D. Smith is making in his book 20,000 Days and Counting: The Crash Course for Mastering Your Life Right Now. He goes on to challenge us to have a plan, and not to be spending our lives just reacting as things happen, but to move forward with purpose.

But what is your purpose in life? Some of us are still struggling with what we want to be when we grow up. Smith actually provides a quick exercise to help you focus on why you are on this planet. It is quite simple really; you take a blank piece of paper, head it My Purpose in Life and then start writing. It doesn't have to be sentences, just words that resonate with you. Keep writing. When you have exhausted all your possible thoughts on your purpose, look at what you have written. Condense the core themes into one sentence. And you've done it.

It is interesting that I should learn about this book at the same time as receiving a somewhat caustic email from a friend challenging me on why I was still working, when last year I considered retiring. She wanted to know if my problem was that I couldn't let go, or I was afraid to. My answer to her: neither. I love what I am doing.

Why should I retire just because I have been alive 22,630 days? I prefer to think that she asks out of concern, but as someone who retired years ago, she can't live my life any more than I can live hers. As Smith points out in his book, we have two choices in life -- yes or no.

I am choosing to say "yes" to my life and to living a meaningful one. I believe I am actually living my life's purpose of helping other women realize their potential and finding success on their own terms. It brings joy to my heart when I see someone getting over her self-doubt, believing in herself, and, as a result, finding success.

In saying "yes" I find myself open to different opportunities that present themselves to me. While some may scare me, I just ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen? And that doesn't mean I am not saying "no" either -- I am choosing who I want to spend my time with and how I want to spend my days. I no longer want to hang out with negative people.

Do I work too hard? Probably. But it doesn't seem like work, and when it does, I am learning to delegate. But I am definitely not ready to close up shop. I see it being a gradual process through which I will find other like-minded women to carry on my mission as I become more the old crone in the background, handing out advice when asked.

But until then, I am living out my life the way I want -- one day at a time.

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