Retirement Transition and ChangeWhat is Retirement?

“Re evaluating the Meaning of Success” by Patricia Cavanaugh

By January 28, 2011 No Comments

The markers of success seemed quite clear when we were younger; a job with positive social status in business, recognition in the professional world, a good home with a happy family as a homemaker or helping others in the world of service.  It was good to have a salary that kept you in the middle or upper middle class or, at least a position with a trajectory to do that.

Now in our 3rd Act the meaning of success becomes a little fuzzy.  What are the markers of success as we move out of our primary career and family responsibilities?  Lately, I have found my self re-evaluating and have begun to question what success means to me now in my 3rd act.  I spent a week away at an ocean side retreat recently and took this question with me to ponder.

I knew what my goals were in the past.  I wanted to raise my children successfully, which meant that they would be happy in their work and in their relationships and therefore with themselves.  Secondly, I wanted to serve people well who came to me as a psychotherapist.  Yet, there always seemed to be something pushing me to do more with my life. I thought I wanted to be successful in business and that had become one of my goals for my 3rd Act.
 
On my retreat I began to take apart what success actually meant for me now; and I found to my chagrin, that the “true north” of my compass that I had used before, was no longer there.  It had become a phantom reading that I was continuing to use to make choices on my 3rd act path. 

Success making money was still important, but not in the same way.  I was surprised by discovering in myself that in fact, it had never been a big driving force for me.  I have been using others’ expectation, what I thought I was supposed to pursue, rather than the truth for me.  As I continued to explore with the help of friends, I have found a new sense of clarity.  Money, as a measure of success, does have its place.  I certainly don’t want to lose money in a business venture.  But “true north” for me now, is imparting my learning and experience, sharing my questions and my insights to a wider circle than my friends and family.  If I am able to extend my life wisdom to a wider circle, to several hundred, or maybe a few thousand that would be success to me.  When I hold that vision in my heart and mind, I find that my body relaxes and expands with excitement, a sure indication that I am truly on track.

My 3rd Act is now well underway.   I see that even within this act there are a number of scenes and within each a possibility for a new meaning of success.  Have you taken time to see if you are using your “true north” compass point for success in your 3rd Act?  Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

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