What comes next after raising a family and producing at work? The children are launched; the career ladder is scaled; the future is open. What will be our narrative as we get older? This is the question facing adults as we enter our so-called retirement years. Psychologist Erik Erikson’s theory of psycho-social development suggests that people pass through eight stages during life. The final stage—integrity versus despair—starts in the sixties and lasts until death. During this phase, we contemplate the past: evaluating accomplishments and relationships. Erikson purported if we felt dissatisfied with our lives, determining that we failed to accomplish goals or felt guilt over actions, we would despair. Did we bury capacities and talents? Did we leave joy or misery in our path? Indian poet Tagore alludes to the sadness of unrealized potential: “He whom I enclose with my name is weeping in the basement.”
The good thing about the sixties is that we may still have 20+ years to change course. Look at what the future holds! How do you see the rest of your life playing out? Although there is less time ahead than behind, you still have time, energy and ability to achieve things or visit places in your lifetime. Some people create a “bucket list,” things you’d like to do or see before you die.
What are things you have wanted to do, places you wanted to visit, or messages to share? Do you have regrets you would like to resolve? What has held you back: finances, fear, health, time? Will any of these be better in a year? You don’t know how long or healthy your future will be. Is there something you always wanted to do? Don’t worry if you look silly. Pull out your index card and write one thing you will do within the next week. Do it NOW. Find a partner and challenge each other to blossom.
Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.
Success in the integrity versus despair stage can lead to wisdom, eliciting a sense of completion. With wisdom, it may be possible to accept death as transformation rather than end. Each day that passes bring you closer to the inevitable outcome. Remember that how you spend your time is how you spend your life. If not now, when? Your legacy is waiting.
© Joan S Grey, 20 APR 2018
IndexCardCure™: Choose joy