Age aside, it’s never too late to make a new ending.
—Phil Burgess, PhD
I love this quote. It actually comes from a personal friend of nearly sixty years. We both graduated from high school in 1957 in Indiana. He wrote a meaty book, also about this latter stage of life, titled Reboot! What to Do When Your Career Is Over but Your Life Isn’t.
His premise, like mine, is that we aren’t done, even if at first it appears that way. We always have more to offer. Always. And the community around us deserves to benefit from our continuing vitality. Our lives remain quite purposeful, even though what we had considered our primary purpose for the many years of our career has come to an end.
Actually, I have met very few people approaching retirement or even already in retirement who say they want to simply sit down and read books. Or play golf. Or learn to play bridge. It’s certainly okay if that’s what a person prefers, and I think everyone should take at least a brief timeout before diving into an activity of any kind, just to recharge the inner core.
But withdrawing from the human community, for more than a couple months following that big retirement party, begins to extinguish the spirit within. And that’s never to our benefit. No matter how tired we may be from a demanding career, letting the spirit flicker and die eventually steals our peace of mind, that very thing we sought more of, throughout our journey here.
Who Will You Be When You Retire?
I am obviously not in the retired mode yet, or you wouldn’t be reading this book. But I am moving in that direction, which is what pulled me to write this book. Now. It’s been on my mind for some time. And the haunting question for me, even though it’s not for many of the people in my circle of friends and acquaintances, is who will I be when I am not the me who is sitting here at the computer still working?
I’m pretty certain that writing will always call to me in some form. My passion for it simply burns too bright for it to quietly die. And that comforts me. What’s going to call to you? I promise that something will if you allow yourself to dream. And are you prepared to follow the thread wherever it leads you?
It could lead you to a faraway land, perhaps. Or into a new relationship, even a new business partnership, or perhaps having a hobby that actually begins to pay dividends. An experience you had never imagined would occur.
Connecting to What Is Calling You
Try playing a little game with yourself. First, just close your eyes and empty your mind. After a few minutes, let your mind wander. Let it go wherever it wants. When it lights on something that pulls it in, imagine yourself being an actual part of the picture you see. Don’t edit your thoughts. Let them be as wild as they want to be. That may be the clue you need to discover where your next stage of living will take you.
Knowing that nothing is really off limits as long as it’s legal leaves many choices—hundreds, in reality. I think the only thing we should consider is whether or not what we choose to do will benefit others. That leaves our next stage wide open doesn’t it?
Perhaps you think that I’m placing a limit on you by saying it should be of benefit to others. It’s been my experience, particularly with the thousands of people I have worked with over the years in hundreds of workshops, that when the choices we make hurt others, they hurt us even more. So choose with an open heart among all the myriad ideas that spring into your mind.
Finding Your Perfect Path for a Meaningful Life
If you still have no idea how you want to spend your time when you have more of it on your hands, reading the book What Color Is Your Parachute? for Retirement, Second Edition: Planning a Prosperous, Healthy, and Happy Future by John E. Nelson and Richard N. Bolles may send you down a perfect path.
I remember reading the original What Color Is Your Parachute? book by Bolles following completion of my PhD in 1979. I knew writing was my passion, but I also knew I might have to settle for something else. It helped to confirm where my interests were. And more importantly, where they were not. My first job was in publishing, and it also eventually led to an opportunity to write my first book. The rest is history, as they say.
The point I’m trying to make is that we still have so much to offer others and for many years to come. Being stymied about our future can lead to doing too little for too long, which can lead to losing hope that we will ever feel okay. We need to lead a meaningful life. At every age. It’s as simple as that. Nothing less than that will satisfy us, and the very fact of our continuing existence demands it.
You Have Yet to Fulfill Your Purpose!
I well remember reading the book Illusions by Richard Bach nearly forty years ago. I was trying to get through a very dark period of my life.
After completing the book, I turned it over to read the back cover copy. Bingo! To paraphrase, it said, “If you are reading this back page now, you have yet to fulfill your purpose.” I was thrilled. I felt saved.
It gave me exactly the boost I needed to believe that I would be okay. I did have a purpose, a fact that I had never believed before.
We must remember and celebrate that we bring all the meaning our lives will ever know to everything we see, to everything we do. Having the power to determine the meaning in and of itself increases the level of passion we will feel around whatever we choose to do. And the choices are as many and as varied as one can imagine.
Nothing Is Really Holding You Back!
The really good news, if you haven’t discovered it yet, is that your life is about to become more fun and more interesting than you could ever have imagined. Now, because nothing is really holding you back, you can dream big and do big things.
No one can stop you. No one but your critical ego, and you can choose to ignore him. In fact, the ego has never and will never want you to succeed. It never really did.
Fortunately, you always had those two voices in your mind, the one that encouraged you, and the other one. Every time you listened to the wrong voice, you paid for it.
Being Attentive Is a Gift
You and I are free now. No longer need we fear (if we ever did) someone looking over our shoulder and reprimanding us. How we spend the hours of every day, whether in the company of others or alone, whether enjoying a hobby or working part time, we need do nothing but be attentive and kind to the others whom we encounter. It’s as simple as that. And if push comes to shove, we don’t even have to be kind.
Attentiveness is always a gift though. Rapt attention is the kindest of all gifts. Our unkindnesses, however, will come back to bite us. Bite us hard. Let’s avoid that. And send good ions into the atmosphere around us. That’s the best kind of work for any age. And this is an idea you can take to the bank!
Let’s Play A While...
* What’s the wildest but still fun, safe thing you can imagine doing, now that you have all this new freedom?
* What’s the upside of the above activity?
* Is there a downside?
* Make a list of all the benefits that accrue from this choice.
* Why did this activity choose you?
* What can you imagine as the biggest payoff from this choice?
* Who comes quickly to mind as the beneficiaries of this choice?
* Do you feel a sense of direction emerging?
* What direction are you now pointed in?
* Sit with this choice for a few days and then, not before, begin exploring the particulars of how this choice might play out in your life.
* What about it feels good?
* When you feel ready, go for it. Then check back and report how you feel.
* Do you think this has been a good choice for you?
* And if you have discovered that’s it’s not so good, no harm has been done.
* Beginning the process again will be even more fun. I promise.
* Ready, set, go!
©2015 by Karen Casey. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com.
Living Long, Living Passionately: 75 (and Counting) Ways to Bring Peace and Purpose to Your Life
by Karen Casey.
About the Author
Karen Casey is a popular speaker at recovery and spirituality conferences throughout the country. She conducts Change Your Mind workshops nationally, based on her bestselling Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow. She is the author of 19 books, including Each Day a New Beginning which has sold more than 2 million copies. Visit her at http://www.womens-spirituality.com.