There is an interesting shift in our perception of time that happens somewhere near our early fifties. As we reach adulthood time is cheap since it seems to be never-ending. Let’s be real, at twenty-one most of us still had the feeling of immortality so popular among teenagers. At that age anything was possible and our lives seemed to stretch out in an endless procession of days. There would always be time to achieve what we set out to do.
After about thirty years of working to create a life and a lifestyle that signaled success for us, we tend to come up for air and look around. Oftentimes what we see is good–a home, a family, a successful career. But is it enough? And if we have created the life we dreamed of, why does it still feel like something is missing?
We begin to question our choices because our concept of time changes with the years. Those three decades we just spent carving out a life flew by without our knowledge. Now we realize that although we have many good years left, they won’t last forever. Time may be eternal but our share of it in this world is not. We begin to understand the precious value of the time we have left. We are no longer safe within the immortality of youth.
How do you make those remaining years count? It’s not just about a job. Or raising a family. Or building for retirement. After about fifty years or so on this planet, many of us realize that our earlier goals may be great, but they aren’t enough to sustain us for the next thirty or forty. We finally realize that time, like money, is a commodity and we should spend it wisely.
For example, there is a reason so many people start a business after they retire or leave an earlier career. Sometimes it is about money. After the recession, not everyone has been able to retire in the style they had planned. However, most often, when someone starts their own business midlife, it is usually a sign that they are passionate about something. That they want to make a difference in the world around them or share a gift they have with those who could benefit from it.
Some find other ways to make a difference. Volunteer work, helping in the community, mentoring young people just starting out in life–these are just a few ways that some people choose to make an impact in their world.
However people chose to do it, it all comes down to one thing. Realizing that forever is not an option and wanting to feel like we have accomplished something during our time. We want to feel a sense of fulfillment while we are here. That not only did we survive but we thrived. And studies show that most people who thrive–those who are truly satisfied with their own lives–believe they have accomplished something that benefits others in society, not just themselves. There is a positive connection with others around them.
Reaching our fifties is an ideal time to reflect on where we have been and where we are going. We understand that our time is limited and we want to make it count. We want to feel satisfied. We have only a certain amount of time and we want to spend it wisely.
Discovering what you are passionate about it and finding the best ways to share it with others will almost certainly guarantee that you will not feel like you spent your time and came up short-changed.