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Guiding The Ambitious Journey
From Part Two => What sort of journey should we take, and with whom should we take it?
What, and with whom, are choices we face in each phase of our lives.
End of Life
Burning brightly from adolescence through adulthood.
The beginning of your lives is the time to think big and act as if we are immortal. The time will come, later, to begin the process of understanding our mortality.
An important role for parents & mentors… encourage young people to think as big as possible.
In this period of our lives, we expect the energy to last forever. This makes sense, high energy is all we’ve ever known. Our drive will last longer than we can see into the future, but not forever.
This phase of my life was characterized by striving, winning and a compulsive drive for conventional success. As I stacked wins, and experienced setbacks, I began to discover there was more to the journey than goals, themselves.
My 20s and 30s were characterized by big wins, significant setbacks and a lot of satisfaction.
Transitions & Transformations
After ~15 years of thinking big, I noticed success wasn’t generating the satisfaction I’d expected. So I started to tidy up my approach to others.
Softening Rough Edges
Addressing Ethical Failings
This proved to be a long term project, started in my 30s and continuing into Middle Age.
If you have kids then this “tidying up" process will save you time and emotional energy.
Noticing, and addressing, emotional habits that hold us back is a fundamental parenting skill. Becoming a better parent, equips us with a skill set for a successful marriage.
Don’t act on anger, or sadness.
Apply lessons inwards.
Be what we want to see.
The key point I’d like to highlight for you.
All our lives have transitions.
There have been times when I felt lost.
Sometimes, this feeling is a sign I need to change.
Other times, my role is patience and persistence.
A mantra that has served me well is Change Slowly.
In Family Finance, there’s a saying…
If you’re changing strategy more than once a decade then you don’t have a strategy.
Five-year plans have proven to be an effective way to guide myself.
The question then becoming, “Whats likely to happen if I continue down this path for another five years?”
Five years creating a life so I can focus deeply.
Followed by five years of deep focus.
An example follows.
Marriage & Parenthood
When kids arrive make them a priority.
I didn’t drop everything.
What I did was gradually change the direction of my life so I could increase my commitment to family. Call this Phase One. It took five years.
Over the following five years, marriage/family was the central theme of my life. Similar to making money, or training to win races, I ran my life choices through a filter of “Is this best for my family?”
I recommend this change not because it was fun, or particularly rewarding (at the time).
I recommend the change so you reduce the likelihood of screwing up your intimate relationships, ending up alone and living with regrets you can’t address.
Sounds horrible, doesn't it? Fear of screwing up was a catalyst for change.
The deepest form of regret I’ve come across lives in parents who didn’t make an effort with their kids. It haunts families across time and generations.
Ideally, the process of tidying up our personalities will have started before the kids arrive. My campaign of self-improvement prepared me for learning how to cope with toddlers and preschoolers.
Transitioning From Middle Age
It’s been an interesting time. There are many options and I feel the tug of past habits.
More external success?
More personal goals?
Dedicate myself to helping my kid(s) achieve their goals?
Help others with their goals?
Coming to the end of Middle Age, I can see the process of becoming old ahead.
But I’m not there, yet.
So there have been numerous campaigns to hold back the tide. Primarily working on strength and endurance.
Despite reduced energy, motivation endures. In this regard, the constraints of aging are a comfort. I can be “doing everything” and still have time left over.
I want to highlight that thought for readers over 45.
If you’ve been striving your entire adult life then the constraints imposed by time can be a relief.
Time forces us to slow down, back off and calm down.
Embracing this reality can make us more effective, and increase our enjoyment from life.
When I decided to transition from a life focused on external success, it was because the time & energy commitment wasn’t possible. I could feel my energy decreasing.
Long before anyone else could see, I knew I couldn't keep it up for another five years. It was time to transition.
I could have made the choice to boost my energy via outside means.
Here’s what I saw.
Even if it was possible, I didn’t want to neglect my kids and marriage.
Now, with the additional constraint of a 50-something body and the benefit of my kids growing up, what-it-takes has come back into the realm of possibility.
What It Takes in our 50s => To be engaged in my life, having paid attention to myself for 30+ years.
Very Different From…
What It Takes in our 20s => To achieve success applying a set of external values I inherited.
Our Ambitious Journeys late in life will be undertaken to satisfy values we’ve created.
So this transition from Middle Age to Elderhood is different. Not just due to the physical changes. Hopefully, because we’ve learned not to fool ourselves chasing other people’s values.
It’s also different because an Ambitious Journey taking us into our 60s needs to be aware of what is coming. It needs to be aware of our mortality.
If we’re fortunate then all of our journeys will prepare us for our ultimate journey.
Our topic for next time.
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