Finding Meaning After 50

Where have the hours, days, weeks, months, years, the decades gone?

How is that one moment I’m the little boy with his brothers, being held by his papa, looking through the coin-operated binoculars at Jones Beach, and in what seems like a very short time (but not the blink of an eye) I’m in my mid-fifties contemplating (as Douglas Adams said) life, the universe, and everything? 

Going from a place of endless possibility and infinite time (or so it seemed), wanting to grow up faster, to being in the second third of my life with a wonderful wife and 10-year old daughter contemplating my purpose and the legacy I want to create and leave before I leave this little blue marble in 100 years or so if I’m lucky.

Two year’s living with the covid pandemic has led to a lot of self-reflection by many, myself included. Many have joined the Great Resignation; many I believe, to find purpose and meaning in their lives.

I was born in a year that is either the end of the Boomers or the start of Gen X. I feel connected to both and neither. Both generations are partaking of the Great Resignation, though fewer in percentages. Those that are resigning are often also retiring, financially prepared or not. Many others would resign, if they found their purpose. Others, would have reignited commitment to their companies if they saw their work as part of their purpose.

I am the child of immigrants who survived WWII Germany as children, met on the ship coming to the US in 1960, and managed to build their version of the American Dream by opening Jessen’s Delicatessen in West Babylon, on Long Island. My parents were entrepreneurs who started with nothing, figured out the deli business as they went (neither had college degrees), sold the first deli when my father was drafted and then started over when he got out, set goals/dreams along the way, achieved them, struggled at times, and persevered. They took very few vacations over 30+ years in the business, most with us three boys.

My father promised my mother he would take her around the world when they retired, to all the ports he visited when he was a young junior officer in the German Merchant Marine in the late 1950s. They sold the store in late 1999 ready to start their adventures together. Pop was diagnosed with lung cancer in December 1999 and died on May 8th, 2000. Lives and dreams put on hold until it was too late.

Like many men (and women) of my generation, my parents led the rags to riches story so that their children could have a better life. Like many in my generation, I got the good grades to go to a good university to get a good job with a good company. In my case it was two degrees with my naval service in the middle, followed by a career in consulting for the last 30ish years. And during the entire time I often felt like a fish out of water, a round peg in a square hole, always feeling there was something more to life and seeing glimpses of it along the way. Finding meaning in what I did, but never my purpose in full, until I was past 50.

So many of my generation have pursued a similar path of good grades to good job, working for decades by others’ values and fulfilling others’ dreams. Then we reach this point in our 50s and wonder what it was all for and what is our purpose in life. Maybe we’re empty-nesters or, like me, finally starting the family we always wanted but never quite met the one until we were past 50. I’m committed to helping others of my generation finding their meaning and purpose, so they can live the inspired life of their dreams, instead of a life of quiet desperation.

I’m very grateful to have figured out along the way that my purpose is first and foremost to be the best husband and father I can be for as long as I can be; after that I am an inspired coach who thrives by challenging others to find their own inner purpose and values.

Every one of us has a purpose from the moment we enter this life, many of us (like me) ignore it’s call for decades subordinating to others’ values and goals until life, the universe, and everything makes its call unavoidable – like Elsa in Frozen 2 rejecting and then pursuing the voice.

In the words of my mentor Dr John Demartini – “When the voice and the vision on the inside is more profound, and more clear and loud than all opinions on the outside, you’ve begun to master your life.”

If you are ready to find your meaning and reconnect with your authentic purpose, message or email me at peter@peterjessen.coach.

I love you, Pop.

 
 
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Finding Meaning After 50

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