“What am I going to do in the second half of life?” I asked my wife.
Rolling her eyes with an oh-brother look, she replied, “Honey, you have four school-age children, and have a demanding career as a lawyer. And now you’re worried about the next half of your life. Really?”
When I raised my question with my wife, I had just read Bob Buford’s book, Halftime—Moving From Success toSignificance. Its wisdom tugged at my soul.
Life’s Two Halves
Buford says, like a football game, our lives have two halves.
The first half is the success and survival phase. We get an education and find a job. We decide whether to stay single or get married. If we choose, we start a family.
In the first half of life, we gain success but also get bumped around by life. If we’re open to it, we gain wisdom from our life experiences.
At some point, we hit a wall in our lives. All we’ve worked for and accomplished becomes meaningless. Life becomes drab. The daily grind wears us down.
Sometimes our lives fall apart at the seams. We’re fired from our jobs. We open the mailbox and find divorce papers. We hit the bottle trying to numb life’s pain. As we get older, we might retire, but not know what to do with our new-found freedom.
The world calls this season a “midlife crisis.” Society says when we slide into it face-first, we need to buy a sports car, change partners, or focus on becoming a champion golfer.
But Buford says the crash and burn that happens to all of us simply means we’re being invited to the second half of life. He calls it “moving from success to significance.”
It’s a God-nudge. The Creator’s saying, Okay, you’ve moved through the survival phase, the first season of your life. Now it’s half-time—time to go into the locker room with your coach and discern what you want the second half of your life to look like.
Spiritual Gifts Inventory to the Rescue
After reading Buford’s book, I had this inkling there would be a second career in my life. I wasn’t sure when it might happen or what it might look like, but it was drawing me like morning light beacons dawn.
Buford says even if we’re in the first half of life, we must prepare for the second half by retooling, getting additional education, and steering our life’s sails toward what we want the next season of our lives to look like.
That’s when I stumbled upon a spiritual gifts inventory.
As I searched online for tools to help me move toward the second half of life, God surprised me with a website by the Lutheran Church. It contained questions that open a pathway to discovering our unique talents and gifts.
Through the website, I learned that God has given each person several unique talents called spiritual gifts that allow us to make the world a better place. When we share our gifts with others, we become fully alive. We experience joy. Purpose. Fulfillment. We co-create with God, bringing Divine love and compassion into the universe.
Shazam! I took the spiritual gifts assessment. It revealed my top five gifts were writing, teaching, encouragement, administration, and networking. This knowledge became an inner compass, guiding me toward what I was being invited to do in the second half of life.
Over the course of a decade and after lots of starts and several tries at dead-end options, I eventually moved with the help of my spiritual director into a second career as a writer, teacher, and workshop host. I found my purpose for the second half of life.
In the last chapter of Walden, Henry David Thoreau wrote this often-quoted phrase: “I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Thoreau’s words—along with a spiritual gifts inventory—are guideposts for our lives. They remind us that purpose matters.
Whether we’re in the first half of our lives struggling to survive the demands of work, family, and daily life or moving into the second half of life discerning what that might look like for us, having a purpose allows us to live the life we imagine.
If we don’t know what our dreams and gifts are, we can’t go confidently toward our dreams.
When we have a purpose, we’re like a sailboat on the ocean. We point our sails and steer our lives toward a certain shore.
There are storms and squalls that come up along the way. There are times of smooth sailing. We need others onboard to help us maneuver our lives through the rough spots and celebrate our accomplishments. But we know there’s a directionour sailboat is pointed, and we’re doing our best to move in that direction.
We don’t follow the misguided directions of the secular world with its false midlife crises remedies. We lean into God—the captain of our ship—and let the Creator guide us into the paths that unfold into living with purpose and significance.
A Call to Action
Consider taking these action steps so you can live the life you imagine:
- Recognize that purpose matters. When we seek God’s guidance and focus our energy on finding and pursuing our true purpose in life, we can live the life we’ve imagined.
- Take a spiritual gifts inventory. There’s a free one on my website: https://brianplachta.com. Download it. Take it. Discover your top five gifts. What makes you come alive?
- After you’ve taken the spiritual gifts inventory, talk with a spiritual mentor, a spiritual friend, pastor, or wisdom figure in your life about your results. Let this person help you discern where you’re using your gifts. Then ask yourself: Where would you like to be using your gifts in the second half of your life?
When we listen to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, discover our unique gifts, and find our purpose so we can live the life we imagine, rather than a mid-life crisis, the second half of life is a gift.
—brian j plachta
Join us for the October Workshop & Webinar:
Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts in the Second Half of Life
How can you discern what you are invited to do with your life after your 9-5 job ends, the kids are raised, or you retire or want to retire?
How does discovering your spiritual gifts provide a roadmap to living the second half of life with joy, purpose, and fulfillment?
Join us via Zoom or in-person for this interactive workshop where you’ll have an opportunity to take a Spiritual Gifts Inventory and discover how you can use your gifts in life-giving ways. Download the free Spiritual Gifts Inventory with this link: Spiritual Gifts Inventory.
Click the link to learn more and register: October Workshop/Webinar