I created all of the following pages because I’m confused…I really am quite confused.
And since there may be others out there with similar “confusion,” I’m going to share a few ideas, as I work my way through this confusion. I can’t be the ONLY one around who’s confused by these particular concerns….well, of course, maybe I am.
I’m used to having certain explicit “roles” in my life and acting out of the “expectations” of those roles… mother, school teacher, summer jobs, student, etc. I found it very fulfilling, enjoyable, and mostly easy, to choose activities and live out of those positive and deeply valued role expectations. I didn’t need to access “initiative.” I simply did “what I was supposed to do” …and I usually enjoyed what that entailed! And when I didn’t “enjoy” it, I simply did what needed to be done, because it simply NEEDED to be done!
But now, for what feels like the first time in my life, I don’t have any particular “role” or “external expectations” to guide my choices. I’m not a “student,” not a “school teacher,” not “actively/daily mothering” since our daughter is a young adult now.
And, most challenging… some days, I don’t seem to have very good access to an internal sense of “initiative”… of getting started.
I chose to stop teaching school in June…also called “retirement,” a “label” which tells what I no longer do. I no longer work at a “real, officially labeled job.” There really are some very significant “activities” that I “no longer do.”
I’m used to being quite “competent,” but, oddly enough,I really didn’t understand the complexity of this stage in life… of transitioning from what I “no longer do” …to what I might now “choose to do.”
I do love, love, love NOT working! I love NOT having the stress, the schedules, the lack of flexibility. I love having more freedom, choices and contentment! I LOVE not working at a “real, officially labeled job!”
I also LOVE reading, studying, thinking, reflecting, understanding, creating these “pages” based on what I’m learning, sharing the pages and ideas with others by way of several blogs…. and making practical use, in my everyday life, of ideas I’m learning! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE doing this and find it extremely enjoyable, engaging and fulfilling! But still… a gap…. a strange, unfamiliar feeling “gap.”
Wow! What a strange term… “retired” ….only what I don’t do! It doesn’t include anything about what else I might now choose to do. What might that be??? It feels a bit like being 22 years old and wondering…. “What am I going to “do” for the rest of my life???” What am I going to “do” in this next year? This next month? What do I choose? What’s important now? How do I participate and contribute, without overextending? How do I do that?
Note: I’m guessing that with the HUGE number of BabyBoomers about to retire…. (10,000 BabyBoomers/day are turning 65 years old…. 75 million Baby Boomers are one verge of retiring! per US News) … these challenges that I’m noticing might start to become “societal” challenges… I’m guessing that many, or even MOST, of us aren’t quite “prepared” for this transition…probably having planned and focused on financial aspects, looking forward to “it,” … BUT without the understandings, awarenesses, personal insights, varied interests, skills or resources that might be needed for transitioning out of “real jobs” to more flexible, long term sense of engagement and fulfillment…. so heads up America! (Canada? Europe? Australia?NZ? etc?) …a whole bunch of us might be facing similar potential challenges!
Here’s another BIG challenge! How do I motivate myself, when there aren’t any “external” or “role” expectations? And how in the world do I get myself going when I’m so “relaxed?”…accessing “initiative”…when there are NO external expectations? …an incredible luxury along with a challenge!
So, I’m confused. Seriously, I’m very confused. I have this amazing luxury of complete freedom and choice. I’m used to being proactive, capable and competent, but oddly enough, I don’t really know how to consciously “choose.” Isn’t that bizarre??? I seem to have the opportunity to independently choose and independently create my own meaningful and purposeful life… but I don’t know how to “do” that.
And, even more challenging!?! I certainly have never had difficulty accessing initiative. I did what I did because it was important to me… and I simply did “what I was supposed to do.” What happened?
Of course, I could simply pursue recreational activities…but that’s not enough for me. I really value contributing, engaging, creating, supporting others. And strangely enough, I really don’t know how to get myself going to do that, outside of a “job” or “role.” Wow! What a surprise this is for me! Of course, I can volunteer…but I’d like that to be in a greater context, a deeper meaning. And again..how to get myself going?
And so…the pages below… as I ponder, reflect and try to figure out this amazing opportunity that I’m sometimes a bit bewildered by…
Realizing that “the future” is a field of potential…to be created and used in meaningful ways, as much as I’m able…and that the future emerges or unfolds out of this present moment’s choices…so to live in each present moment, as richly and fully as possible.
I’m figuring that I can start by becoming more consciously aware of my own personal deeply held values, start recognizing how I’m living those each day and using that awareness for jump starting “initiative” … accessing “initiative” from my own deep commitment of living out those values. Here I go…. as far as I’ve gotten…
Figuring out deeply-held values and qualities,
and then learning to live with and through those values
In many ways…the future “is” potential…
we usually don’t know what will happen,
we might feel like it simply “unfolds”…
but there seems to be a “field of potential” there…
and where there is potential…there is room for some choice…
the future has an aspect of a “field of potential”
“potential” that we can live in the present moment
Learning to identify our deeper positive values…
qualities that probably benefit our own lives and the lives of others…
identifying those values and learning to choose activities and interactions
that are embedded with those special values…
Every day life will certainly benefit from those awarenesses and choices…
And….the positive potential of one’s future will probably benefit from that reflecting,too…
And then…. living those positive activities and interactions throughout each day…
both within oneself and with others…
I’ve been reading lots of books, (listed below… I do love to learn about “unfamiliar” subjects, and I’m living in the midst of a very “unfamiliar” subject now! ), browsing through websites and taking written and online quizzes that help one identify some of one’s own “deeply held values”…
At this point, as an example for people reading… in case others might be figuring this out, too… I really do recommend getting busy on this “figuring out!” (ahead of time!) I’ve done lots of reflecting and here are several of my own “deeply held values” …and how I might be able to USE these qualities or values as I think about choices, options, motivation and, the hardest for me, getting going…
I usually start with “image” pages when I’m trying to figure something out, but, oddly enough, this time I created a chart first…and then went on to create image pages… logical left brain activated first this time, symbols/color/image right brain second. (my husband just read that and commented…”that’s good… left brain first!”… ahhhh, he appreciates a logical approach! )
The first chart might look a bit blurry on WordPress format, so I’ll add a second chart…one that’s not as well formatted or colorful as the first one, but maybe more readable….
The following chart shows how I’m using those “identified values/qualities” to reflect upon and choose “meaningful activities.” It’s quite remarkable how many “check marks” one activity can get!… living multiple deeply held values within an activity!
It turns out that many ordinary, rather “mundane-seeming” activities are embedded with a number of these positive values! “Going to the store” got lots of check marks…and so did “taking in the big garbage cans back in from the curb!” Now, that’s a nice surprise!
And choosing and doing more engaging activities seems to get lots of check marks too… wow…nice surprise there, too!
Here’s a blank chart, in case anyone else is interested in trying this idea.
And so… lots of thoughts and reflections…pondering away here…mellow, relaxed, enjoying and truly appreciating life …
But, trying also to get more insight into deeper values, living with fullness, positive choices, initiative, motivation, choosing and going forward, in a positive manner…within each day and flowing into the “future”.. a field of potential!
This post got so long…it’s probably several posts in one, but I just don’t know how to shorten it. I really hope those of you who are reading it, no matter what “stage” of your life you’re in, can pick and choose from the ideas…and I do hope some of the ideas might be helpful to you or others…
Books that might be helpful to others… books that I’ve read, studied and found insightful and helpful…. as I wrote, I love reading, studying and learning!…and I love gaining a deeper understanding of “unfamiliar” subjects…especially ones I find myself in the midst of, without awareness about what’s going on! ….and here I am!… smack dab in the middle of a very (!!!) unfamiliar “subject”…. no longer working at that “real” job…a field of potential, indeed!
Books that might help with learning to live with yourself and others, and to develop more fully… for everyone, but especially helpful when you don’t have other distractions and are re-familiarizing with “yourself” ( even if you are still working and busy…there’s no time like the present!…this learning is a “process” over time …wonderful books!)
The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer, Excellent book! learning to come to terms with the incessantly talking “roommate” in your own mind…and how to quiet it down. When you’re not working, you might hear that roommate’s incessant chatter more often or loudly!
The Art of Happiness, A Handbook for Living, The DalaiLama, with Howard Cutler, Wonderful book!…absolutely full of insightful ideas, suggestions and practical tips for living more positively and fully each day.
Buddha’s Brain, Rick Hanson, Excellent and helpful! Well organized, practical and helpful information about the brain…easily understood explanations of neurobiology, neuropsychology, how our brains “work” and reacts… and how to soothe, enrich and develop in life. Really wonderful book filled with practical, useful ideas! He gives excellent workshops, too…all around the US and World
The 5 Love Languages, The Secret to Love that Lasts, Gary Chapman, Really helpful book! Concise, well organized, good examples. Highlights 5 main categories of “ways” in which partners and friends give and receive love, learning one’s own and other people’s preferences, and then learning to nurture others and oneself, by respecting and using those preferences. When one isn’t working, there’s lots more time of being with one’s partner… good idea to start positively nurturing the relationship, or else….
The Second Half of Life, Angeles Arrien, Excellent book! Describes various stages people often go through, from the age of 50 onward. Full of insightful ideas that can lead to shifting perspectives about “aging”…. changing from seeing areas of “loss” to recognizing, appreciating, valuing and developing areas of richness, fullness and growth. She offers excellent weekend workshops, too.
Saying Yes to Change, Joan Borysenko and Gordon Dveirin, Excellent, concise book, full of good insights and ideas!
Via Strength Finder, huge website, by Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman, UPenn…many quizzes that help one figure out areas of interest, strength, etc. Helpful in identifying and understanding areas that one might want to develop more fully.
A few good books about transitioning into “retirement:” Developing more awareness and understanding of positive possibilities, potential challenges, identifying strengths, preferences, areas of interest, possibilities, making choices etc
My Next Phase, The PERSONALITY BASED Guide to your Best Retirement, Eric Sundstrom, Randy Burnham and Michael Burnham, Excellent book! Identifies important personal “styles” preferences that can help in choosing “retirement options” and living more fully, when not working. (Good ideas, even if you are working!) Developing deeper awareness of and understanding about your own preferences (and those of one’s partner) and using those to make more positive, informed choices: Social Style, Stress Style, Activity Style, Information Style, Outlook Style, Decision Style, Planning Style
Retire Happy, What You Can Do NOW to Guarantee a Great Retirement, Ralph Warner (head of Nolo Press, “do it yourself” legal publishing company ), Richard Stim, Excellent book! Organized, concise, to the point, helpful ideas!
Areas covered in book: “cultivating interests outside work, leading a healthier lifestyle, revitalizing family relationships, spending more time with spouses, embracing spirituality or meditation, nurturing friendships and making new friends” Another quote: “All the money in the world won’t make for a happy retirement unless you’re satisfied with the rest of your life. So start today.”
The Joy of Not Working, Ernie Zelinski, excellent book, concise, engaging, full of good ideas
What Color Is Your Parachute? for Retirement, Richard N. Bolles, John E. Nelson, excellent book, very helpful questions and ideas
The Third Chapter, Passion, Risk and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50, Sara Lawrence- Lightfoot
So many “fields of positive potential” available to all of us…
no mater what our age or “stage” in life,
each and every day,
in each present moment…
may we try as much as we are able
….to choose well….