The ancient two-word quote “Know Thyself”, is attributed to the Greek philosopher, Socrates. In modern parlance, we use a variation of this term, “Know who you are”. You might think that it’s a ridiculous statement because you are “Susan”… or whatever name you use. But, what are you on the inside; what is your identity?
Many people as they approach retirement age, start to ask themselves the question, “Who am I?”. They have assumed an identity for so long but then realize that they have not been true to themselves. It is only by truly knowing yourself that you can be yourself. Unfortunately, many have given up what is important to be subservient or pleasing to others. A common scenario that we see is where a woman has sacrificed herself for many years. She has raised children and put her deep-rooted aspirations aside to find that once the children have grown and left home that she feels lots. Another scenario that we see is where grandparents are used by their children to look after the grandchildren to the point that they once again have a parenting role instead of fulfilling their needs and wants.
So how do we find out who we are?
- What drives you?
We all have certain behavioural drivers. Some people are yearning for autonomy; they want to feel that they have the freedom to do what they want where they want while others are content to have their lives regimented and controlled.
Do you search for love and connection to others? We all need the connection to others, but for some it is so important that they implode when they become isolated. Other people are happy to be on their own for long periods of time. Which one are you?
Life purpose is something that drives other people. This is quite valuable even in our senior years. Studies have been done showing that those driven to follow their purpose experience greater benefits with respect to health and mental state. How important is that to you?
- What are your values?
We all have a set of values that are as different from each other as are fingerprints. Unfortunately, many people, instead of living their values are living someone else’s. The case earlier of a grandparent spending time looking after grandchildren and putting their lives on hold is an example. Often we are living our lives in a certain way that if we had a serious look we would find that we are not living according to our true values. If someone values health but doesn’t take care of themselves; they overeat, don’t exercise, drink too much; then there is an incongruency with respect to their values.
A meaningful way to determine values is to ask yourself some questions. Dr. John Demartini created a Value Determination Exercise, which does just that. The process is too detailed for this article but ask yourself three simple questions: What do you think about most? How do you fill your space? And how do you spend your money? Perhaps the most tragic thing is to be living someone else’s values instead of our own.
All great achievements start with a dream. Remember, Martin Luther King’s speech, “I have a dream”. That dream became a reality. Steve Jobs, in the 1970s dreamed that everyone would have a desktop computer in their homes. Guess what? It’s never too late to dream. Get in touch with your inner thoughts, feelings and inspirations, and you will be surprised what you find. There are many instances of individuals over age 65 having a dream from which they were able to create something tangible. So how about it – dare to dream!
Who do you think you are? What do you want to achieve in your 60s?