Last summer at a friend’s BBQ, I was talking to a man of 55 who was about to retire. I asked him how he saw this next stage. He mentioned a holiday in Florida, joked about the list of jobs his wife had for him, and how he was looking forward to playing more golf.
This was a man with possibly 35 years ahead of him, and while I could understand he was looking forward to a break from his job, I suspect like many he would just potter along, not doing very much until he slid into his deathbed.
I love the quotation from Confucius that goes, “We all have two lives. We start the second when we realize we only have one.”
Very often this second life starts when we come to a natural cross roads in our lives such as retirement, divorce, moving house, or children leaving home; and we realise that we have a chance to start afresh.
Even a new year can even be seen as a fresh start, or a “second life”. We look at the months stretching ahead, and feel like making changes, or starting something new. However, most people tend to focus on what they are going to do.
When I’m helping my clients deal with change, instead of asking what they’re going to do, I ask, “What do you want your life to look like?” and “Who do you want to be?”
Living in a first world country we have the freedom to choose the life we desire. There may be others to take into account, but ultimately we have a choice. So as you look ahead, what do you want your life to look like?
Do you want to spend more time at home with the people you care about? Or do you want to travel and discover a new culture? Perhaps you would like to learn a new language, or be creative. How about having a fuller social life, and joining a club. You may even want to make a big change; move jobs, downsize your home, or create a simpler easier life.
When you're ready for a change, this is when you ask yourself, “Who do I want to be? If I want to be the best version of myself, what would that look like?”
Would you like to be more curious and adventurous? Is there a subject you’d like to take up, or even become an expert on? Do you feel you want to be more friendly and approachable? Would your new self be healthier, have a better love relationship, achieve more at work, or contribute to a voluntary group?
If you never ask yourself these questions except when dreaming of a beach while stuck in traffic, or briefly envying someone else's life on TV, then I can recommend setting aside to really ponder these questions. If it's tricky to do on your own, discuss this with your partner, or get support from a coach. Just make sure it's what you want!
It's never too late to start creating your life and this month could be the ideal point to do this. After all, you have two lives, and maybe it's time to start your second