Re-Imagining retirement: Talent and time

If one has a talent and cannot use it, one has failed. If one has a talent and only uses half of it, one has partially failed. If one has a talent and learns to use the whole of it, they have gloriously succeeded, and won a satisfaction and triumph few people will ever know. – Thomas Wolfe

I came across this quote while working in Everett in the mid-1980s and loved it instantly! It hooks my “potential” hot-button and my strong desire that everyone be permitted to discover and express the best of what they were born with. Yes, I would hope success comes with it, but the satisfaction and triumph are what is most meaningful, because it is so personal.

The strongest drive I have for being a retirement coach is that, in this new season of life, we all need to consider strongly the courage it takes to finally express our unique talent. And, I have a hunch, when we do, we will also find a fountain of joy. We will be a better neighbor, stronger family member and our community will benefit, too.

Our careers, occupations and bosses may have limited your unique potential and contribution. Economics may have thrown our plans a curve or deferred our dreams. I certainly wish this wasn’t true for you, but too often it is the reality.

A couple words of wisdom I put into fiber art pieces speak to my conviction about this. Myles Munroe says “Everyone has a seed of greatness buried in a gift needed by the world.” Similar to this is Fredrick Buechner’s quote, “Your vocation is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” B S Flowers has different way of saying it, “When you see what you are here for, you suddenly find yourself on a stage in a play written expressly for you.”

In retirement our time is ours alone to fill, to make choices, to decide how to spend our freedom of time. There’s no one telling us to get up or go to bed. So, all the choices are ours. No one else’s. Our drive and commitment have to come from inside us. Why not lose ourselves in things we love, where time stands still, where we get in a flow – making music, throwing pottery, writing poetry, mentoring another generation, leaving a legacy, etc. Find the courage, the strength and the drive to learn how to use the whole of your talent. Striving for the sometimes-elusive satisfaction and triumph is worth every moment of the pursuit. Because it is so personal and meaningful.

Increasingly researchers are finding that living our purpose contributes to living longer, having a reason to jump out of bed, having a warm sense of connectedness and better health. And, I wish this for everyone!

You have three opportunities coming up to participate in “What Do I Want to Do in Retirement? Connecting with purpose in retirement” workshop: Monday, June 4 at 10 a.m. at the Marysville Senior Center; Friday, June 15 at 10 a.m. in Mill Creek’s new senior center on 133th St. S.E., or Saturday, June 16 at 11:15 a.m. in the Lynnwood Senior Center.

— By Sharon Rolph

Sharon Rolph is a 25-plus-year resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds and earned her masters degree in applied behavioral science and bachelor’s degree in administration from City University. Her career includes many years at GTE and Boeing in Everett and Tukwila. She presents What Do I Want to Do in Retirement? Connecting with Purpose in Retirement workshops at senior centers. The next one is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. March 6 at the Lynnwood Senior Center, 19000 44th Ave. W., in Lynnwood. She is also available to speak to groups or businesses.

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