Strangers in the night

Who would have ever thought the chorus to Frank Sinatra’s classic hit, “Strangers in the Night”, would hold the secret to life? Yet, it does.

As we enter our post-employment phase of life there is a tendency to focus on doing the things we’ve put off while we were employed. Some are fun things like traveling, pursuing hobbies, goofing off (whatever that looks like for you) or cultivating new interests. Other may be more serious like working on a marriage or broken relationship or repairing damaged health.

But with all the “doing” and its inherent busyness, we forget to “be”. That’s where the “do-be-do-be-do” comes in. Darylle Dennis, creator of the Value Exchange Dynamics business model, first introduced me to this concept. When we allow ourselves to mindfully experience the doing, we connect it to our emotions and we become the experience. We move from doing to being.

When we hike to the top of the Camden Hills to watch the sun rise we are doing. When we allow ourselves to experience the beauty of the sun rise soaking in the changing colors and shifting light we shift from doing to being. Being is a state of profound awareness of our oneness with all that is around us. When we shift from doing to being we shift from activity to awareness. Our senses are fully engaged, we are conscious of what we are feeling and experiencing.

So often we forget to savor what we are doing because life up to this point has discouraged us from doing so. Now that we have the choice of what we do with our time, we may shift into hyper busy mode to distract ourselves from the myriad of emotions that accompany this shift in life status. We have been busy for so long, we’ve forgotten how to slow down and slowing down feels unfamiliar and uncomfortable. “I should be doing something” we tell ourselves, but “being” is doing something. It is reconnecting with our innermost essence and rediscovering the part of ourselves we have long ignored.

My grandmother used to say “growing old isn’t for sissies.” She was referring to her declining health and vitality. Mind you, she lived to be 92. But heartfelt self-discovery takes courage especially if the life you have lived so far has left you dissatisfied. Research has shown the people who are happiest later in life are those who have found a way to make a difference in the lives of others.

That is why I encourage my clients to come up with a mission statement for their third phase of life. In our careers, many of us have had to come up with a company mission statement or a mission statement for a project. Or, we may have been tasked with complying with our employer’s mission statement. But rare is the person who has crafted a mission statement for their life.

I was fortunate that the very first coach I worked with (they called them “career counselors” back then) asked me to craft a mission statement for my life. It was not an easy task and took me months to complete. But that mission statement has shaped every aspect of my life. It has been my north star when I felt lost in life. More importantly, it has eliminated most regrets in my life because every major decision was made in the context of asking the question “Does doing this line up with my mission statement?” If it did, I proceeded. If it did not, I went in another direction.

If you’d like information on how to craft a mission statement for your third phase of life, contact me. It is a satisfying, if challenging, experience. I can guarantee it will also help you do-be-do-be-do.

Kathryn Avery

About Kathryn Avery

When Kathryn Severns Avery’s husband, Chris, began contemplating retirement in 2014, she knew they had to quickly come up with a multi-faceted plan. They spent the next year discussing, sometimes heatedly, what they would do once he stopped working. On paper their plan looked exciting. They would head from Colorado to the 1891 sea captain’s house they bought and renovated in Rockland on Maine’s midcoast. But the reality of planning and implementing retirement was much different than expected. Kathryn has worked in radio, television, marketing, and public relations. She is the author of five books and has written articles on interior design and crafts for national and regional publications including Romantic Homes, Log Homes Illustrated, The Rocky Mountain News and Colorado Homes and Lifestyles.