A fundamental shift in our perception of second-half of life living is currently reshaping our thinking about the maturation, personal effectiveness, worthwhile endeavors, and deep soul meaning of this new more mature stage of life. All of our former assumptions about life’s second half are fading into obsolescence as a new day dawns on what it means to be living optimally. The worn-out search for redundant relaxation in the maturing years is being eclipsed by search for deepened relevancy. We now know that idle busyness is deadly, that endless rest is deforming not transforming, and that play can only be truly enjoyed if it’s balanced by something worthwhile to live for. The goals of working over the lifespan have changed indeed.
Maturing life is no longer viewed as a forced march toward becoming “over the hill” with its baggage of creeping diminishments; no, we’re on a new growth path toward capturing our genuine personhood like we’ve never been able to before, with an accent on gaining new wisdom, finding new arenas for purposeful action, and discovering new personal significance beyond anything experienced previously.
Researchers who study adult development have asserted for some time now that maturing adults want much more than simply surviving as they contemplate the rest of their lives. They want to thrive. This means defining health and happiness away from words like contentment and adjustment, submission and resignation, and toward goals like ‘completive aliveness’ and ‘eagerness of spirit.’ This kind of proactive health demands that we engage in the great life adventure of expressing the soul purpose that’s emerging in us now. While the adventure is lifelong, its pace quickens as we move beyond our former careers and enter into new arenas of growth.
Our former jobs paid the mortgage, put the kids through school, and provided a financial foundation for daily living; indeed some of us are still there. All of this was necessary of course in those former times and stages of life, but for lots of reasons we’re now looking for something more, something that scratches that deep-down itch for achievement of a different sort, something that feeds our very being.
It’s hard to even put these needs into words, but needs they are nonetheless; they’re requirements of our real self that push us, sometimes only softly, and at other times with a roar, but always with a surprising persistence – they don’t want to go away! We can try to push them away, but when and if we do… we always pay a price. These new urges from within, these psychological wellsprings of motivation, urge and beckon us to use our personalities in new ways so we can translate these life urges and desires into a new reality.
This new adventure in living needs power, a vital energy that propels us, feeds us, and stimulates our internal “juices.” We need something to “fire” us. The primary way of accessing this internal power is by identifying a goal, dream, life cause, or “life purpose” that stirs our soul.