During the Clinton/Lewinsky debacle, people were asking if Clinton was still relevant. That’s about the worst thing for a president, or anyone for that matter to hear. To lose relevance means to lose our purpose.
Everyone who has any kind of job, from the president to the lowest person on the organizational chart has relevance because they perform a function that is needed. If they quit, they are replaced.
However, many people in the later years of their life struggle with the lack of relevance every day. They are no longer needed by a company, or in some cases even their family. And, they’re not replaced when they’re gone.
According to Richard Leider, in his book, Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old? we face two crises in our life: the midlife crisis and the late-life crisis.
The midlife crisis is characterized by a loss of opportunities. There’s the feeling that we haven’t done everything we want in life and time is running out. Life isn’t turning out the way I expected. The solution, a new car or a new spouse is usually unsatisfying in the long term.
The late-life crisis is characterized by a loss of relevance and a loss of identity, a feeling of hopelessness, and a sense that life is downhill from now on. Research shows that 1 out of 3 people will experience this. We’re talking about people you probably know, maybe even your own parents. And, we may be talking about you in the years ahead if you don’t learn how to grow old instead of getting old.
As we transition into retirement and deeper into the second half of our life, we need to realize that this is the time to let go of our ego-driven operating system and start doing the spiritual (not religious) work to find out who we really are and what gifts we have to offer to the world.
In the second half of life, no one is going to give you relevance, in our culture, except yourself. Find your gifts, and your wisdom to help others who are traveling the same path you traveled. You still have relevance. You just have to own it.
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