“Here’s the dilemma: I don’t want to set my alarm clock anymore. And I don’t want to have to answer to anybody. So what fits?” ~ Sue W.
For the past few weeks, I’ve had conversations with several folks experiencing that third quarter of life. That quarter of life where they’re either retired, or considering retirement, or just trying to label what it is between being retired and not quite.
Our conversions have focused on what will we do for the next 20-odd years of our lives.
How do we find meaning in the last part of our lives? What will our legacy be?
This week’s profile is of Sue W., who had careers as a mental health therapist, a college career counselor, and a leadership development consultant.
Finding Motivation When Your Feet Hit the Floor in the Morning
Sue considers herself “semi-retired.” She still writes some executive resumes for clients and coaches them through job interview preparation.
While she doesn’t want a full-time job, she’s confused about giving up working entirely. And she’s a little concerned about leaving behind her professional expertise. “Keeping up with current mindsets takes more energy than I can muster.” By focusing on the tactical tools of the job search she still makes a contribution to clients’ needs.
Sue has struggled with finding motivation beyond her former careers. Her search for motivation and purpose has taken her from Colorado to the coast of North Carolina, then to the mountains of NC. She has also volunteered with some environmental programs in these areas. But she’s just not been fulfilled.
Past Purpose Doesn’t Provide Current Meaning
Sue noted that in the past, she was motivated by helping others — as a therapist and as a career development consultant. However, “something has switched for me. Helping people doesn’t drive me anymore. I feel that I’ve enough. But I don’t know what to replace it with.”
“I’m going to do whatever I want to do. I love the freeing part of this stage of life, but then how do you do it?”
One thing to fill the void is the pursuit of a new Master’s degree. Sue is pursuing some long-held interests in some fairly esoteric fields — spirituality, new-age psychology, and personal development. These subjects all blend into a deep dive into personal development on a moral, spiritual, cosmic level. “Very woo-woo,” she laughs.
While Sue doesn’t know exactly where this field of study will take her, she loves it. “I’m not sure if it’s murking the waters of what I want to do with my life, but if it is, it’s OK — I’m enjoying the process…I don’t have answers anymore, I don’t feel like I need answers.” But she wonders if it’s enough to provide ongoing meaning.
Kids, Though…and Grandkids…
Sue is passionate about her two grown sons and their families. She loves spending time with her sons and grandchildren. “If I could scoop them all up in one geographic area and spend every day with them, I’d be one happy lady.”
However, the reality is that one son lives in AZ, the other in NC.
If money or obligations were not an issue, Sue would travel “all over the place.” She would spend a month at one son’s house, then head to some exotic place for a month, then visit her other son for a month. Then repeat the cycle.
Like others I’ve interviewed, Sue really gave this question some thought. And like others, she framed her response around relationships, as opposed to professional accomplishments.
“I’d like to be remembered as a kind, loving person…that’s what drives me.”
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Image copyright: dmitrydemidovich