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Getting Ready for the Next Big Thing

I’ve never been a big-view planner of my life. In my 20s, I was so scared and unfocused that it took me years to even imagine I could set a path and strive for it. Instead, I kind of fell from one thing to another and very often, luckily, found myself in some pretty great situations. And maybe that’s what we’re supposed to do—just let go and enjoy the ride. Still, as I’ve gotten older and braver, I have a clearer idea of where I’d like to head. And, standing on the precipice of what is probably the last big phase of my life, I don’t really want to leave anything to chance.

I really just want to stop listing all of the reasons why I can’t do something or why it might not work out.

I find myself doing a life assessment like never before—like getting into better shape to run a marathon in every area of my life. Only I want it to be a fun race—a leisurely pace—one in which I can see everything there is to see and be as present as possible in every moment. I want to feel good, stress less, travel, publish a book, rest, laugh, read, and zone out. I want to listen to music, play with dogs, love Jodi, live someplace else for a month or two every year, hang out with my friends, not worry about money, and be in the best physical condition of my life. Truthfully, with a few exceptions, it’s very similar to what my life is like now. But I really do need to do some fine-tuning.

When I was younger, even when I started to make more courageous plans and moves in my life, I didn’t feel the need to grab everything I could. There will be time for all of that, I would think to myself, looking out at everything available to me in the world. But I feel that less now. My time is limited, and frankly I’m tired of being careful and nervous. I’m not interested in taking wild risks. I really just want to stop listing all of the reasons why I can’t do something or why it might not work out.

Up to now, I would say that I have lived less creatively than I would like to going forward. I’ve often taken the easiest path—or at least the most obvious one—and I’ve done what I can to not take too many risks or draw too much attention to myself. Even at that, I have a pretty amazing life. It makes me wonder just what might be possible if I were to remove the constraints that come from being scared and cautious. So my “training” program is directly tied to that. Get myself in the best possible shape in every area of my life so I feel free to move forward unburdened.

Some of it has to do with paying off some debts and losing a little weight, but I also just want to position myself to be as strong and flexible as I can be—physically, emotionally and mentally. I’ve reached a place in my life where everything is within reach and is not only possible, but probable. I don’t want weak knees—literally or figuratively. I want to learn more, figure out the best ways to contribute, discover meaning where I can, and be a partner to Jodi and to my friends.

When I first retired, I wasn’t quite prepared for all of this. I was tired of the job I was doing, but I wasn’t ready to take this next big jump. This part of my life feels like the true getting-ready period. In two years, I’ll be 70. Every life span calculator I look at gives me 25-30 years maximum. I know there will be many hours and days in that 30 years that do not bring life-changing meaning. But I’ve stayed below the radar too long. Partly, I didn’t quite have all the tools and experience and fitness to take that next leap. Building toward that is my project for now. Wish me luck and watch me soar.

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