A couple of weeks ago I attended a model train show with my son, just to hang out with him and spend the day together. He was looking for more model trains and I was just along for the ride. In a major exhibition hall filled with tables of every imaginable train paraphernalia, there was also a booth with Hummels.
For those of you who don’t know, Hummels are beautiful figurines made in Germany and collected. My parents have a collection they brought back from France with them in 1956 and they have always been viewed as prized possessions in our family. The collection was at one time worth about $10,000. At the table at the train show they were $20 each or two for $35. I couldn’t believe it! At first I thought they were fakes, but I checked the bottoms for the authentic markings and they were genuine. I walked away, got out my phone and started searching the Internet for them. True enough the values have plummeted. The prized family collection is almost worthless.
People aren’t collecting these days. It’s not just millennials – although they are not collecting – it’s baby boomers too. We’re looking at our lives and saying, “What do I need with another Hummel? I need to get rid of things not collect more things.” There’s even a glut of wine on the market because Baby Boomers are scaling back their cellars. Tres tragique! But I digress.
When I moved my dad from his house to the retirement community I thought about his collection of things. After we had an online family auction of the stuff in my parents home we literally had a dumpster come to the house and filled it with stuff that no one wanted. It was depressing to say the least.
I realized that we spend most of our life collecting things and the end of our life getting rid of those things.
Frankly, I have all the “things” I need or want. Really, I don’t need anything more. As I look at the next twenty or so years I have left on this earth, it’s not the collection of things that is going to matter to me, it’s the difference I’ve made in the lives of others.
I can’t spend the rest of my life – my elder-hood – collecting more things. I need to invest in significance.
The idea of moving from success to significance isn’t new with me. Bob Buford’s book, “Halftime” talked about it over twenty years ago. But twenty years later, that idea of doing significant things that are mostly non-profit has proved to be somewhat challenging. People retire and say they are going to get involved in a non-profit and some do, but most don’t. They spend their elder-hood dabbling in the non-profit world but they don’t get to the level of significance they once thought they wanted.
To me, it seems that the real key to significance shouldn’t be reserved for your later years, but rather, should be the driving part of your life no matter how old you are. It never made sense to me that we would not have significance for sixty years and then magically turn the switch and discover significance for ten or twenty years as we grow old. It’s a bad paradigm and we need to change it.
The change of course is in viewing our life – our whole life – as one of congruence and one in which our work – all of our work – is significant. You don’t decide to live a life of significance on a Thursday and have it on Friday. You have to understand it as the defining, life long context for your life and build your life into that paradigm. So here’s the paradigm:
In other words, get a true vision for your life that includes all of your life including significant work that energizes you till your last day. How?
Figure out who you are at your core. Understand who you were uniquely designed to be – your Core Motivator. Then, figure out a plan that is based on your core that includes significant work. It doesn’t matter how old you are, because you are never too young, or too old, to have a vision for your life. Once you have a plan, then execute that plan.
And if you need help…that’s why I’m here.