Larry Banman: Chart your course with the things you do for others
Kremmling, CO Colorado
What fuels your fire? What winds your clock?
It has always been my thought that, given the opportunity, we gravitate toward that which truly motivates us. My thought was also that when people retired they would at least have the time to pursue that which they found motivational. As I have gotten close to that age, I have started to watch a little more closely what people do when they retire. That is partly because they are starting to be people in my age group.
As a disclaimer I do have to note that retirement for me is still a theoretical concept. It isn’t that I am too young. It is just that with recent developments in the economy and with a lifetime pattern of an inability to save funds, my portofio isn’t exactly flush, let alone diversified. I met with a financial planner recently and left the meeting with the thought that I had least brought some humor to somebody’s day. Generally speaking, the days of pensions and gold-watch ceremonies are a thing of the past. Social Security wasn’t intended to provide a full retirement income and people are coming to realize that fact. What that means is that more and more of us will be working beyong the traditional retirement age of 65.
What that also means is that more and more of us are going to have to find other ways to do those things that we had planned to do in retirement. Whether it is traveling, spending more time with the grandkids, moving to a more favorable climate or pursuing a hobby with more intention, many of us are likely going to have to fit that into a schedule that includes a regular job. That doesn’t mean we can’t do those things, it just means there won’t be many days of waking up and wondering, “What should I do today?”
With less leisure time, it will become even more important to prioritize what we want to do with our discretionary time, money and passion. Somebody once told me if I didn’t prioritize my time, somebody else would do it for me. It is important to decide when and to whom we say yes and when and to whom we say no.
There are many noble things to do with discretionary time. It wouldn’t be right for me to judge somebody else’s pursuits just because they don’t fit within my own definition of noble. What seems narcissistic to me may be what touches another person’s soul. What appears to be selfish to me may actually be an emotion fueled by my own jealousy.
I meet regularly with a group of people. They are nothing like me. If we met in a random situation we wouldn’t gravitate toward each other. Frankly, I think they would gravitate quickly away from me, but that is another topic. Probably what I enjoy most about their company is that I find myself looking at things from a different vantage point. When you look at things differently, sometimes it makes you start to think differently. That can be dangerous, but it can also be very healthy. A new vantage point can’t always be judged as better or worse, sometimes it is just a different view. I have felt the same way when I have been immersed in different cultures. In a way, my regular visit is like a short trip into another culture.
Most recently, I have been encouraged to determine the value of what I do. Part of that is a function of experience. As we get older, I believe most of us start thinking about the effect of our actions. Some would call it leaving a legacy. That may sound egocentric but consciously or subconsciously, it is what we are doing with our lives. Like the trail a snail leaves, we all leave a legacy. After we have passed, the consequences of those actions remain.
At my recent encounter, the statement was made that the only things we do that truly have lasting value are those things we do for other people. That statement has generated a lot of thought. It explains, in my opinion, why so many of our pursuits bring only the taste for more. It isn’t that those things are inherently bad, but when they aren’t coupled with purpose they often don’t bring the answers that were sought. We end up in the pursuit of a target that is always just beyond our grasp.
I have always loved the saying, “All I really need to know, I learned in kindergarten.” One of those things we learned was sharing. When we share, it makes two people happy. Something about sharing and helping people seems to fuel a satsifaction that cannot be satisfied otherwise. It is as if that is the natural and most appropriate outlet for the things that we have to offer.
What puts wind in your sails? I would suggest that giving to others is the wind that fills our sails and gets us to our destination.
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