I've been thinking a lot about the song "I'd love to change the world" by Ten Years After, a popular British band from the '60s. You might recall the lyrics... It goes, "I'd love to change the world, but I don't know what to do, so I'll leave it up to you..."
I used to roll around the lyrics in my head quite often in my twenties, but it always stopped there. "I don't know what to do, so I'll leave it up to you." If there was an ache to do something, I didn't know what or how, much like the youth of today, so I focused on work that was ahead of me. Now in the second half of life, this refrain has changed to something like, "I may not know exactly what to do, but I'm going to do something now."
It's not like we haven't been doing anything. Yes, many of us have had and are still engaged in full, productive lives. Yes, many are struggling with anything and everything that life can throw at us. And yet, for some of us, we come to a place where we take stock of our life experience and look forward, and we want to give back. What arises in middle age, if we are so inclined, is what psychologists call generativity, the desire to look beyond our own selves and to guide, support, or nurture the next generation. It's also defined as a fight against stagnation, one's own.
It's too easy to become stagnant, complacent, or overrun in life. By planning to approach the second half of your life more intentionally, you can create a more engaging and healthy life for yourself -- and what you do and how you live will touch the lives of others, whether you may know it or not. If you need examples of people whose second acts, big and small, made a difference in their lives and others, read Marc Freedman's book, Encore.
Thoughts for creating success in the second half of life.