My course “Midlife through Retirement: A Path Forward” (offered Feb. 23-March 15 at North Seattle College) is about finding a way forward in life, about identifying and planning your next goal, if that is what you want, or addressing what is important in the next stage of your life in order to create greater personal satisfaction and fulfilment.
I look at the “second half of life” because there are fundamental differences between the “first half” and the “second half of life," which for most people begin at around midlife (however you wish to define that). Most people experience the sense of having arrived at “midlife” around mid-forties or early fifties when we realize that we have lived about half of our life and we are faced with the realization that time on this planet is finite - for our parents, partners, and friends - and ourselves. The second half of life is new terrain. The landscape of life changes beyond midlife, and it’s helpful to understand the challenges and opportunities in the second half in order to make the best use of our time and our lives and to live more fully and intentionally. As John Lennon famously put it, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.”
We know that the changes at midlife and in the second half of life is real and is a universally shared human phenomenon because it is mentioned in literature (Dante wrote in the 14th Century, "In the midway of this our mortal life, I found me in a gloomy wood, astray.") Across cultures, time, and disciplines (in business and management, social and psychological sciences, medical and neurological sciences, etc.), people have talked about a midlife "awakening" and adjustments necessary for creating a satisfying life.
The modern remedy for this seems to lean heavily towards the advice of “follow your passion,” which to some sounds like a self-help platitude and leaves others confused. It’s no wonder. While following one’s passion can be important, one Stanford University study found that only about 20% of people could identify and articulate their passion (William Damon, 2008). However, while not all people -- in fact, the majority -- cannot articulate passion, every person has personal values, interests, and strengths. It’s for this reason that I look at values, strengths, interests, and passion or purpose (or simply preferences) as tools to help craft next steps in life.
If you’re interested in creating the next steps of your life, please considering joining us in my next class. As Peter Drucker says, “The most effective way to manage change successfully is to create it.”
Thoughts for creating success in the second half of life.