The Ongoing Personal Need for Relevance…

An Unspoken But Common Impediment to Ending Your Career.

The anticipation and the actual experience of the end of one’s career is a major life Transition for which traditionally there has not existed the means to prepare for in a comprehensive manner. Beyond the usual concerns most of us think about, there are others that are profound, often unspoken and commonly experienced.

An awesome Alaskan summer sunset over the Pacific Ocean provides a long moment to reflect our relevance in life. The Alaska Range is barely visible in the background.

Reasons I encounter frequently

As I mentor colleagues, consult and speak publicly about end of career Transition, I find that there are several obstacles that prevent many from exercising the opportunity to end one’s career and Transition to the next phase of life. These are some prominent reasons:

  • Not having the financial resources to maintain the desired lifestyle.
  • Not knowing how to go about the process of Transition and fulfilling a myriad of responsibilities and obligations.
  • Not having identified What you will do in the future, something you find fulfilling.
  • Not being able to distinguish Who you are as an individual vs. What your role has been.
  • Not having the confidence that after the end of your career you will continue to feel relevant.

These reasons are born of human nature and experience. They are not theoretical… many experience and feel them. They are real and must be dealt with successfully.

How do you do it?

Let’s examine this complex set of concerns and discuss each in subsequent articles. I begin with the continuing need to feel relevant.

The basic human need for relevance is inherent in our nature. It is experienced by men and women, day laborers and professionals throughout the world. Each has his or her own perception of what this means and how it manifests itself.

To experience relevance, to feel it, is a good thing. To be appreciated, valued and feel the expressed gratitude of others are healthy and powerful emotions that reinforce a sense of self and purpose. These emotions fuel the many motivations in life.

However, there exists a strong tendency to attribute a sense of relevance to that which is provided by others within our sphere of influence. Notice that I use the word provided. I do so because it is all too common to relinquish to others our primary source of relevance with which we identify and then internalize.

I believe that the really solid and clear basis for understanding, characterizing and actualizing a sense of relevance must, and does, arise from within ourselves. This is particularly applicable as we begin to plan and experience our Transition.

How is this achieved?

I propose that you consider, for your own enormous benefit, that it is really you that is genuinely empowered to judge your relevance to yourself first. You do so by knowing Who you are, your Why, and witness it’s faithful expression in What you do.

To be true to yourself is to be relevant to yourself.

From that, the clarity of your uniqueness will reveal its great value to others. That then, becomes an additional, ongoing source of affirmation of relevance, not its primary source.

How you and others benefit

A true sense of personal relevance is born of clarity of self (Who), purpose (Why) and faithful expression thereof (What).

To be of value to others, to be relevant to them, we must first be relevant to ourselves. The basis of relevance arises from within, not from without.

As this is accomplished, your inner strength will be evident to those who care about you and probably others. They will intuitively know that there is a special inner strength of character about you. They will know that despite the absence of the daily sound of minor and major accolades that you have been accustomed to, by virtue of your devotion and service to others during your career, the essence of your being remains intact. That palpable strength of character will sustain you and provide the courage to create your renewal and ongoing fulfillment according to your own design.

As you live that experience, by your example, you will continue to teach and others will learn values and lessons that someday will serve to guide them in their lives.

That is a profound and noble legacy. Rejoice in it and feel relevant!

You may feel like the sun of your life is setting, but please know that it is within your power to live your life just as the sun, which warms the earth, is preparing to rise even as it sets.

How will you exercise that power?

Do you want to learn more from me about how to create and experience a fulfilling Transition rather than an unpleasant “retirement” experience? To help you, I created The Practice Transition Course for Physicians. Click here to learn more about this.