More About Halftime: Finding Your Purpose as You Prepare for a Second Half of Significance


In a recent article, I noted that the late Bob Buford made a strong case in his book, Halftime, that even if you have already achieved much in the first half of your life and professional career, your best days are ahead. Of course, it doesn’t just magically happen that way; you must continue to invest care and drive and professionalism and passion. This is what got you where you are, and it will help get you where you want to be – if you seek a life of purpose where you can move from success to significance. Strategically, Buford provides a roadmap to help you prepare for a meaningful second half of your life. Let’s look more closely at how you can begin to define your purposeful second act:


The “One Thing”

How do you find your purpose? Buford claims that “the key to a successful second half is finding your ‘one thing’.” For most of us, this takes a fair amount of soul searching, of listening to your “still small voice”. As Dag Hammerskjold said, “The more you listen to the voice within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside.” Buford puts it this way: “What’s important is that you start off by discovering the way God built you so that you can” appropriately use your unique talents. He makes it clear, however, that “if you cannot afford to spend the time in solitude with God that finding your ‘one thing’ requires, you are not ready to find it.”

In Halftime, the discussion of what constitutes your “one thing” is comprehensive but also somewhat nebulous. After all, each person’s “one thing” will be different, unique, and highly personal. “Your one thing is the most essential part of you, your transcendent dimension,” Buford writes. “It is discovering what’s true about yourself, rather than overlaying someone else’s truth on you.”

The surprising reality is that finding your truth and your purpose doesn’t mean you must turn your back on all you’ve learned and accomplished in your first half. As Buford writes: “You can apply your gifts in ways that allow you to spend more time on things [that matter]. And do it in such a way as to reclaim the thrill of that first deal!”

Indeed, Buford was a man of faith, and he stated in plain language that he did not “believe that God creates us with specialized abilities and temperaments and then asks us to do things for him that require completely different abilities and temperaments.” Rather, he advises that you “stick to the things you know. Play out of the knowledge your experience has entitled you to possess.”


Testing the Waters

Still, the question nags: “What is your purpose? What makes you tick? What do you do so well that you would enjoy doing it without pay? What is your passion, the spark that needs only a little breeze to ignite into a raging fire?”

Only you can answer this question – after you search within yourself.

Gaining clarity for your purpose may require testing the waters. Buford describes three such methods: seismic testing, low-cost probes, and the half-speed option. Space is limited here to go into detail on these techniques, but here they are in essence:

  • Seismic testing involves listening to reliable counsel, and perhaps even using focus groups to help you bring into perspective what might be crystal clear to others – about you!
  • Low-cost probes are “practical explorations in the field or fields in which you think you would like to spend your second half.”
  • The half-speed option is a kind of toe-in-the-water approach during which you exert some effort (but not full-speed-ahead effort) into “what’s next” without fully abandoning where you are.


The Bottom Line:

As I mentioned in the previous article, most of us long for a sense of significance. We want to know that we matter, that we have a purpose, and that we are respecting our calling to do something meaningful. The good news, of course, is that you CAN turn this longing into reality, if you think strategically and search within yourself to align your gifts with possibilities.

But remember Buford’s caution: “Halftime is not an escape or a more respectable midlife crisis. It really shouldn’t be a reaction to something negative in your life as much as a response to positive hopes and ambitions you are feeling.”

Moving from success to significance is something so many of our licensed Advisors are experiencing as they apply their career-long learning to help small and medium-sized businesses as outsourced sales consultants. If you would like to learn more about how you, too, can follow this path toward a life of second-half significance, contact us today at 1.844.874.7253.