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Flourish at Fifty, Feel Sublime at Sixty

September 15, 2010

Flourish at Fifty, Feel Sublime at Sixty

I attended a meeting this week with a number of people in their fifties and sixties. They spent the earlier part of their lives investing in school, community, and synagogue as their children were growing. Now those children are out of the house. Some at the meeting were retired, others are still working, but all of them had one thing in common. All had asked, in one way or another:

Now that I have given the better part of my life to fulfill the purpose of raising my children, what shall do I do next?

This is a common question in people this age. It may be part of what our culture refers to as the prototypical “mid-life crisis.” What could be defined by some as a crisis, however, could also be viewed as an opportunity. After all, when have you last had time to wonder about what’s next? This is the perfect moment to begin asking yourself: what do I love to do? What have I always wanted to pursue that I never had time to do before? Where can I use my talents and abilities to make a difference?

The answer to “What’s next?” has three parts.

The first part of the answer involves focusing your attention on yourself. For some, this may be new – and perhaps uncomfortable. It is an important step, however. You will find value in asking yourself what you find meaningful and fun. We suggest you explore and participate in these sorts of self-discovery activities, as they will help you re-create yourself and your purpose in life.

Once you have taken possession of yourself, ask yourself where your interests lie, and where you see yourself making a contribution. This is the second step, and it is essential in order to find fulfillment. If you would like assistance with this endeavor, when the Find-Fulfill-Flourish website is ready (probably mid-October) you might want to complete our online Heartisan PathFinder Card Exercise. They will help you assess your own unique responses to these questions.

The third and final step is taking action related to that contribution. Using your answers from the card sort exercise, or from your own personal analysis, create a plan with concrete steps to get involved and get started.

The great sage Hillel said,

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?                                                                                                     If only for myself, what am I?                                                                                                                               And if not now, then when?

Engaging in each of the steps described above will provide you with a new sense of purpose and direction. Fulfillment will come out of knowing, first, what you value; second, discovering where and how you can and would like to make a difference; and third, acting today – even if only by making a list or a phone call – and beginning to make your journey.

Robin Damsky

Robin Damsky is the rabbi of West Suburban Temple Har Zion in Oak Park, Illinois, and co-author of Find-Fulfill-Flourish: Discover Your Purpose with LifePath GPS – a book, tool kit, and workshop series focused on guiding people toward more meaningful and fulfilling lives.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. David K. permalink
    September 16, 2010 9:21 am

    Your older, and (God willing) getting older, readers might be interested in the “Sage-ing; not Age-ing Movement.” One of its founder is Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.

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