The Ambitions of Others

In my relatively new retirement phase I am re-reading Creative Aging: Rethinking Retirement and Non-Retirement in a Changing World by Marjory Zoet Bankson.   

Bankson gave me pause when she used the phrase, “carry the ambitions of others” (Creative Aging p7) as she wrote about many of us “looking for ways to slow down and notice things we have been too busy to consider before.” Have I been carrying the ambitions of others or responding to my own inner guide?

Through my life I have trusted my intuition to inform my decisions. Realizing now the “go along and get along philosophy” I was raised with quite likely biased what I believed were truly my intuitive decisions.  My reflections on this reading have me wondering if this trust actually limited my opportunities by not taking time to deeply consider before plunging ahead.  

However, when I was offered the chance to take an early retirement I didn’t so much stop to consider as try to rationalize with my intuition why I should stay. My intuition was saying, “run”! My practical concerns were financial—stay longer, get a better pension–and challenged my inner guide who was quite adamantly suggesting my call to meaningful life was no longer there. This from one who, for the last 10 years or so of employment coached job search clients to find meaningful work, not simply time fillers, or bank account assets.

If I didn’t accept the retirement offer, one of the recent hires on our team would be laid off. I knew this vibrant, engaged, passionate colleague ran circles around my waning, almost non-existent, enthusiasm for the role and it wasn’t fair to me, her, or the company for me to stay. My wisdom insisted now was the time to take time to discern how I really wanted to spend the remaining days of my life.

Entering a transition time, I consciously decided to take time to think. To reflect and consider what I really want to do, what gifts I want to use, and how they could unfold now in my life.  Time with family was key and the freedom to engage with them was thrilling.  Figuring out how to engage with myself is taking somewhat longer.

Sobered by the thought of “ten or fifteen productive years ahead of us” (p.7), suspecting for many that number is low, but still, the time for going along and getting along is over. It’s time to kick into high gear to figure out what my place really is in the greater scheme of things.

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