Continuing with my exploration of the themes and concepts in The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better by Richard J. Leider. Earlier this week, I kicked around the idea of Loyalty as it relates to our life purpose. Today I am thinking more about revisiting past decisions and choices.
Many cultural memes point to this, from the saying about never being able to dip your foot into the same river again to 1 Corinthians, 13 where we are reminded that we act and speak differently as children than when we are older and hopefully somewhat wiser. That last part is up for discussion.
“There is wisdom in revisiting the questions that we think we already know how to answer. Our answers change at different phases of our lives and with changing life circumstances.”
Our youthful choices and perceptions are often tinged with naive optimism about both the world we are discovering and our own ability to affect that world. This is why revolution is best left to those young enough to act, in spite of the reality in front of them. For example, Benjamin Franklin, a respected 81 years old at the signing of the Constitution establishing the United States, was by 15 years the oldest. Many of the other signers were much younger, in their twenties, thirties, and forties.
I was very optimistic as a young man in college and the early part of my work history. I found that many things appeared possible and I behaved accordingly. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, I look back on my youthful misperceptions around questions of how to approach work, how to lead others best, and who to associate with … and shake my head with a rueful expression.
As we age, we experience life events, such as marriage and sometimes divorce, children, achievements and failures, physical changes, and evolving roles and relationships with older and younger family members. Our interests change, as new things catch our attention and energy, while older habits or hobbies fall by the wayside.
I once spent hours daily playing my guitar and singing, because the act of creating music made me feel good. At the early stage of this avocation, I entertained dreams of becoming a folk rock hero, with all the recognition and wealth that would surely accompany my speedy acceptance by audiences across the globe.
Eventually, two things happened: First, I got married, had children, and began a non-musical career. Second, I realized that the pleasure from my music making was primarily centered on a small audience: myself and my very young children, and a few years later on, very young grandchildren.
Now I rarely take the time to play and only do so for short periods of time.
Things change … and Leider’s point that we should revisit our past decisions is a valid one. Our perceptions, experiences, and values change as we grow, learn about the world, and continue to reflect on who we are and what we are doing.
… Or at least, this is true, IF we intentionally take the time to review our life every once in a while and think about how things are going and how we are changing.
Trying to follow my own sound advice in the Heartland ….