You don’t find yourself. You create yourself.

finding yourself

“Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”  – George Bernard Shaw.

When I was in college a friend of mine dropped out and said, “I’m going to move to Colorado for a year and try to find myself.”  This totally made sense at the time.  None of us had an overarching vision for our life or, for that matter, had the slightest idea what the future held beyond the current semester.  If my friend could find the answer on a ski lift, more power to him.

The older I get however, the more I realize that George Bernard Shaw was right.  You don’t find yourself.  You create yourself.  Nowhere is this more true than with retirement.  Finding yourself implies a certain level of randomness and passivity.  Be patient.  Keep your eyes open.  Wait for the puzzle pieces to fall into place.  Maybe the life you want is just around the corner.  Not only does that almost never work, but in retirement the clock is ticking.  You don’t have the luxury of waiting to allow your dream life to gradually materialize.

If it’s up to you to create yourself, then you need to be proactive.  As Teddy Roosevelt was fond of saying, you need to “get action.”  You need to think like a designer or a builder.  You need to test, experiment, iterate, be curious and try things.  The goal is a well-designed life.  A well-designed retirement.  You take pieces like friends, activities, skills, wants, relationships and locations and you mold them into the life you want.  Whatever you come up with won’t be perfect.  There’s no “right” answer.  But you’ll learn and grow from each iteration and gradually move closer to the life that feels like your true self.  Not because you found it, but because you built it.

My U.S. readers have a chance to put this into practice right away.  You have a long holiday weekend, starting today.  How can you make the most of it?

“Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action.”  – Theodore Roosevelt

Have a great weekend!

~ Joe

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Retirement lessons from the world's richest person - Intentional Retirement - November 3, 2017

    […] Be inventive.  All of those experiments usually lead to inventions and innovations.  The Amazon of today looks very different than it did at the beginning.  The same should be true of your retirement.  Don’t spend 20 years in a rut.  Iterate, create, grow and evolve.  That growth and change won’t happen automatically.  You need to experiment and invent.  As I said recently: You don’t find yourself.  You create yourself. […]

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