Seniors (50 Plus) Search For Meaning

INTRODUCTION

The dilemma is Seniors 50+ are anxious about retirement and having a healthier longer life, but at the same time they dread the possibility of not having a meaningful retirement life. Seniors need to ask themselves some questions such as Who are you, What do you know, What can you do and What resources do you have on hand to create something of value? Also, What is your present physical, mental and emotional health, and do you need to work on some aspects to help you be a more challenging person in your pre-retirement and retirement life.

Question- Many seniors want to know how is it possible to say yes to life in spite of the different challenges seniors face such as pain, guilt and death?  Can life retain its potential meaning in spite of everything?

MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING

The author, Viktor E. Frankl in his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, said that “life is potentially meaningful under any conditions, even those which are most miserable.  And this in turn presupposes the human capacity to creatively turn life’s negative aspects into something positive or constructive.”  Victor explains this by saying, “In other words, what matters is to make the best of any given situation “The best,” however, is that which in Latin is called ‘optimum’- hence in the face of tragedy and in view of the human potential which at it’s best always allows for: (1) turning suffering into a human achievement and accomplishment; (2) deriving from guilt the opportunity to change oneself for the better; and (3) deriving from life’s transitoriness an incentive to take responsible action.”

Quotation: “Never live in hope and expectation with your arms folded”- Anonymous

CONQUER DEFEAT

At age 65, Colonel Harland Sanders (KFC) turned a setback into a victory.  The Colonel used the cooking skills he learned from his mother and later in life opened a little restaurant that failed when traffic was re-routed away from it.

He was 65, a senior citizen and he was broke.  This is when the Colonel sat on his front porch searching for his meaning of life when the mailman came up the steps and handed him an envelope.  It was from the U.S. Government and contained his first social security check in the amount of $105.  Staring at the check there was something surging within him that said, “My life isn’t over and I’m not going to sit in a rocking chair and take money from the Government.”  To make a long story short, the Colonel made Kentucky Fried Chicken become an almost instant success. Becoming an instant success was not part of the advice given to other 65- year olds.  He said that “If a child of God thinks right, if he is right, he will have the power to rise above any defeat and conquer it.”

RETIREMENT GROOVE FOR US MORTALS

Personally, I am still learning and I am also searching for the meaning of life.  On January 15, 2014 I attended a seminar presentation given by Alexis Leclair of Uptake Consulting who said that “Retirement has always been a huge life change.  Although we still call it by the same name, today’s retirement is different.  It’s longer. It’s healthier.  Options are diverse.  Our needs and expectations may not be the same as generations before us.” 

In essence, Alexis talks about the core subjects of needing to matter, finding meaning, valuing work, small business or an Encore career and managing retirement satisfaction and happiness.

Alexis summarizes her thoughts in the following paragraph:

Mattering, because most people have never heard about it but psychologists say it is critical to our happiness.  Meaning, because since dirt was invented, people-retired or not-have wanted to have it in their lives. Work, because it’s gotten a bad rap by media and society, and we need to see work in a different light.  Managing happiness (optimism and resiliency), because ours may have been eroded when our identity, our connections and more dwindled in retirement years.  All of the topics, information and strategies were chosen because many of us never learned about them from our parents or in our busy adult years.

FINDING MOTIVATION AFTER RETIREMENT

To stay on the theme of seniors search for meaning, I attended another seminar presentation on January 22, 2014.  The presenter was Carol Kodish-Butt, an Outreach Coordinator with (SEESA) South East Edmonton Seniors Association Activity Center.  Approx. 20 members attended this seminar.

Personally, I always thought that seniors have different values and expectations compared to others.  in most cases many seniors will need a ‘hands on’ learning approach in any given Lifelong learning session.  This presentation given by Carol was not a lecture standing in front of the room but it was an ‘in your face’ round table discussion where none of the seniors attending could escape or hide anywhere.  In a lecture presentation usually you have 1-3 questions asked at the END of the presentation, whereas; in Carol’s talk everyone was on the Encore stage by first introducing themselves and then EVERYONE contributing in the 90 minute ‘pressure cooker’ like session.

Instead of being isolated and ignored everyone experienced part of what Victor Frankl shared in Man’s Search For Meaning when he talked about pain, guilt and death eg. one senior in the group shared the fact that his spouse died recently.

In this particular presentation Carol introduced ways to: stay interested in your life when you’re no longer working in a corporate job; figure out what will make your retirement life more satisfying or make you happy; and answer the question- What to do when the dreaded “de-motivation” bug attacks?

De-Motivation, What De-Motivates You?

Briefly, we know that the biggest stigma most seniors have to confront is Ageism.  Even when legislation is in place to stop this practice there are still those forces in corporate life and personal life as well that refuse to give in to this human right for seniors.

Seniors also have the same opportunities to climb ‘Maslow’s’ Ladder i.e. going from the first step your basic needs (food, shelter, safety) through to self-esteem to the highest levels of knowledge and understanding.  At the top of the ladder are the lofty goals of transcendence and self-actualization.

Carol also outlined the possible reasons that can de-motivate you.  These are as follows:

*Fear- still do it.

*Wrong goals- essential vs social self vs self-acutalization.

*Lack of Clarity- try to vision a more meaningful retirement life.

*Value Conflict- prioritize your values.

*Lack of Autonomy- get control over your project(s).

*Lack of Challenge- not small or big just grow from where you are today & enjoy.

*Grief- take time to heal & retire creatively.

*Loneliness- Get more new connections replacing old work connections if needed.

*Burn-Out- Get complete rest & re-energise yourself to perform on Second Encore Act.

*Not Knowing What to Do Next- Breakdown your own situation into more manageable pieces.

Last Quotation:  I’d like to end this particular discussion by a quote from Viktor Fankl when he says, “Just as life remains potentially meaningful under any conditions, even those that are most miserable, so too does the value of each and every person stay with him or her, and it does so because it is based on the values that he or she has realized in the past, and is not contingent on the usefulness that he or she may or may not retain in the present.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

A PERSONAL NOTE- I’d like to hear from my readers if they have been helped through this Blog and what you have learned if anything in order for you to achieve a more active, creative, and productive retirement life?  Any comments will be very much appreciated.  Have the great retirement life that you deserve!  Thanks for Listening.

 

 

 

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