Thursday, May 14, 2009


Do you want to fulfill dreams, ambitions, and goals you didn't achieve in your First Half? Many of us did not have the opportunity to to do so because we had to earn a living to support our families. As a result we and had to shelve our dreams and passions. Others of us chose careers in business because we were seduced by money and the status that came with success. And still others among us stumbled into our careers without much thought or reason. Regardless of your situation, the Second Half is a time when you can chase your dreams and live your passion.

Whenever I think of thwarted dreams and ambitions, I remember a wonderful friend who was the principal of a local junior high school in the town where I lived. He was given a mandate to shake things up a bit, including repainting the halls and classrooms. The powers that be thought a brighter school might result in turning out brighter students. I was struck by my friend’s excitement and dedication to the project. When I pressed him on the subject, he explained that he always wanted to be an artist, but his parents disapproved and refused to pay his college tuition if he did not pursue a professional degree. As I got to know him, I realized the price he had paid for his thwarted dream. There was a sadness and incompleteness about him. If during your First Half, your work did not allow you to live your passion use your Second Half to find and fulfill it.

There are several ways to do this. The first is to identify activities you engaged in that put you in a state of flow. Flow is a concept developed by Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who sought to identify what the most successful people across a variety of fields—business, the arts, science, government had in common regarding their work or activity. After interviewing scores of individuals he identified seven characteristics which he subsequently described as flow. They include:

1. Being completely involved, focused, concentrating - with what they were doing due to innate curiosity or as the result of training

2. Experiencing a sense of ecstasy - of being outside everyday reality

3. Having great inner clarity - knowing what needs to be done and how well it is going

4. Knowing the activity is doable - that the skills are adequate, and neither anxious or bored

5. Possessing a sense of serenity - no worries about self, feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of ego - afterwards feeling of transcending ego in ways not thought possible

6. Experiencing a feeling of timeliness - thoroughly focused on present, don't notice time passing

7. Having extrinsic motivation - whatever produces "flow" becomes its own reward

One of the more interesting observations made by Professor Csikszentmihalyi was the fact that none of the successful people he interviewed suggested that what they did was motivated by the need to make money. Achieving flow really is its own reward. So one way to find out what turns you on identify the things you’ve done that put you in a state of flow. For example. I discovered research and writing put me in a state of flow. Which in turn prompted me to research and write a book on how to achieve happiness and meaning in the Second Half.

Another somewhat related approach to finding out what turns you on is to ask yourself several questions:

1. What turned you on as a child?

2. What excites you?

3. What are some of the things you’d like to do if earning money was not an issues?

4. Is there anything you’ve dreamed of doing that you’ve never shared with anyone?

5.What are some of your talents, things that you are really good at doing?

6. When you go to a cocktail party and people are discussing various subjects, which ones interest you the most?

One of my favorite quotes is from Thoreau: “The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation and die with the song inside of them.” Do you want to live with your song inside of you? If not, take some time now to identify what turns you one and take action to fulfill your dreams and aspirations. You’ll be much happier and fulfilled

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