de·sign [dih-zahyn]: To plan and fashion artistically or skillfully; to intend for a definite purpose: to assign in thought or intention
“Many of us are plagued by guilt because secretly we believe that the myth [of the perfect woman] could one day become our reality if we just continue to work hard enough, or be organized enough, or learn to say ‘no’ to just the right things.”
From Clueless: 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Motherhood Before Becoming a Mom
A few weeks ago I was hanging out with some friends of different ages – women ranging from their twenties to nearly fifty. We were discussing how the notions of purpose and potential shift as we get older. Almost everyone wants to find their purpose and reach their potential in life. Your experience might be different, but in our experience, the process looks like this:
In your 20s you’re on a quest to find your purpose: What am I good at? What I am passionate about? What problem can I be a solution for? The place where these three variables intersect is usually an indicator of purpose.
In your 30s you’re on a quest to push the limits of your potential: How far can I go? How fast can I go? How wide can my reach be? How much pressure can I take? How many balls can I juggle? How many forms of expression can my purpose take on? The answers to these questions define your field of influence and tell you where to spend your greatest energy.
In your 40s you learn to become comfortable with your limitations.
“Limitations” doesn’t seem to belong in a discussion about potential and purpose. Usually we think of those things in terms of possibilities. But eventually, possibilities must be converted into realities. Taking an idea out of the realm of possibility and into the realm of reality means that we commit to a certain plan. It also means that we accept certain limitations, not by default, but by design.
Limitations are an important part of good design. They are an important part of YOUR design.
Accepting our limitations frees you from the pressure of perfectionism because:
- You admit that you can’t do it all… by design. That’s not failure; it’s intentionality.
- You focus your energy on the areas where you add the most value… by design. That’s not under-performing; it’s consolidating your investment.
- You acknowledge that God’s purpose for your life is enough to satisfy you… by design. That’s not settling for mediocrity; it’s choosing contentment.
- You reject the inclination to measure your success by the achievements of others, knowing that your journey is unique… by design. That’s not loosing your drive; it’s enjoying the journey.
When you refuse to acknowledge your limitations you:
- Try to do it all…even things you weren’t designed to do. That’s leads to more failure and burnout than you need to experience in life.
- Dilute your energy by investing it in too many places at once. Instead of doing a few things with excellence, you are doing many things with mediocrity.
- Feel discontent with what God has designed you to do, looking for satisfaction in places that are not in your rightful field of influence.
- Miss out on all the great things around you because you are so busy comparing your success to the achievements of others.
Accepting your limitations doesn’t mean that you have fulfilled your purpose or reached the totality of your potential. It means that you have a more defined vision of how you are designed, and that you are committed at an even greater level to the purpose for which you were created. It means that you are ready to take all that possibility and turn it into reality, even at the expense of letting some possibilities go.
I wonder where you are in the process of finding your purpose and releasing your potential? I used decades and life stages to break down the process, but that is not etched in stone by any means. Take some time to pray about your purpose and how to reach your potential, but keep in mind that limitations are not always a bad thing and may even be there by design.