The questions are different at various stages of life. In our twenties we tend to ask, “Who will I marry and what will my career be?” In our thirties we start to ask, “How can I be established in my career, and how will my kids turn out?”
By the forties we start to ask, “Is this the job I really wanted, and why is life so hard? In our fifties, we start to look both backward and forward: “How has it turned out so far, and what will I do that’s significant in the next twenty-five years?”
By our sixties, we ask simpler questions like, “Will my health hold out, and when will I see my grandchildren?” By our seventies, we really start to look back and ask, “Was it all worth it, or will anyone remember?”
At age eighty, quite likely our possessions shine less brightly. On the other hand, the things that give us great joy are the intangibles:
The funny thing about the questions of life is that the ones we ask at the end are the ones we should begin with. It is tough to craft a meaningful life without considering our end: What do we hope for, what do we dream for as it relates to our lives, our family, our children?
I hope that some of the questions that we put off–about our mortality, about our sense of meaning and success–we can begin to address right now. And that we’ll find we are not talking about endings but about enduring legacies.
Application: What does success look like to you? Will success look different when you are at the end of your life?