I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.Albert Schweitzer

 Are you looking for new meaning, new purpose, new excitement in what we used to call the “retirement” years?

You are not alone….millions of us, 55 years and older, have faced so many challenges in our lives…and then….and then, how do we keep up that level of meaning and purpose in these years?  To kick back and sink into a hammock somewhere….well, that just isn’t going to make it.

I’d like to offer an alternative, one that I have discovered for myself, in what I see as a “chapter” in our lives that is brimming with new and exciting possibilities.

For me, a free-lance writer, this chapter began ten years ago on a tourist’s trip to India.  My life changed in an instant when I looked into the face of a six-year old orphan girl who had been purposely blinded to make her a “better beggar.”
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI gasped when I heard what had happened to her.  She returned my look of horror with a lovely, trusting smile. I had to do something; I couldn’t pat her on the head and say “Have a nice day, honey.”  She wasn’t going to have a nice day and her future was equally dim, sleeping on the concrete floor in a poor orphanage.

I didn’t know exactly what to do or how.

9- Reena's smileWith no experience or long range plan, I started a tiny non-profit organization, Homes of Hope India to help orphan girls like her.  And today, with a growing number of supporters around the world, we continue to build homes for those orphan girls.

Little did I anticipate it, but this chapter, these years, would be the best years of my life.

Okay, that’s me….but I want this blog to be helpful to you, and how you might find fulfillment and happiness (and believe me, some heart aches and frustration), using your considerable talents and wisdom, in trying to make this world a better place in whatever way you might find.

Using my experience with Homes and Hope and calling on the experiences of others, I’ve written a book and designed an approach that provides the background and tools you can use to find….well, let’s call it what it is….your mission, your calling for this “chapter” in your life.

The book is Your Second to Last Chapter: Creating a Meaningful Life on Your Own Terms.

Let me answer a few questions you might have:

  1. Chapters of our lives; what do you mean?

If you think about it, our life is composed of chapters: home, school, marriage for many, children, career…but before what will be our last chapter, when we might be less able, there is what I call a Second to Last Chapter.

  1. What is unique about this chapter?

Millions of Americans….maybe you are one…age group 55 and above, are approaching or already in retirement.  Often we do not have great material needs.  But what we really need and want is a purpose in life. This may be the longest chapter in our lives, up to 30 years, and many people are unsure what do with these years.  It is uncharted territory.

Looking at your life, you may be somewhat fulfilled, happy and yet many of us experience that something is missing.  We sense there is something more to this part of life, but we don’t quite know what to do about it.  How to find it?  We want these years to count.  But how?

  1. What can this Second to Last Chapter hold for you?

If you’re like me when I approached my retirement years, I wondered: what’s ahead? We’ve all had challenges and purpose.  But what will be the challenge that pops me out of bed in the morning during this chapter?

Think back: remember the idealism you had as a young person…to go out and save the world…that idealism is still in there.  And, at this stage of your life, you actually have the wisdom and skills to do something about it.

This is the time to live out that idealism, to embark on a real adventure.

  1. How can the book, “Your Second to Last Chapter” help you?

Using my own experience and other examples, I want to show you that you – like me….not some extraordinary or rich person – can truly help to make this world a better place.  And have a great time doing just that.

Here is a short video about the book.

I can help you understand that something in the deepest and best part of you is quietly summoning you to make these years count.  The book, the approach, allow you to listen to yourself.  Your best self.  Simple as that.  And it will help you focus, to identify your passion, see your talents, and where you could be most effective.

  1. Why should I embark on a Second to Last Chapter work?

It’s good for you, your soul, and the world.  Just pause for a moment and ask this question: when do we feel better — when we are on receiving end, or when we can help somebody out, to give of ourselves?  Only you know the answer.  And research continues to show that generous people live longer and are healthier.27 Coast - Paul, Tracy, with Pacific- crop

You will feel it with your family, your friends.  In your heart.  Suddenly you will realize that you don’t worry about the little things as much, partially because you have less time to do so, but mostly because you’re involved in something that truly matters.

I am married, with two grown sons.  My wife and I still take vacations, go out to dinner and movies; in other words, I have time for both the pleasures of these years, meanwhile having a driving purpose and meaning in my work for the orphan girls of India.

  1. Am I in this alone, or are others thinking this way?

You are certainly not alone, the Second to Last Chapter community grows every day and on our website and through this blog, you will be inspired and coached…. we will learn from one another, support each other.

And besides, the stakes are different at this point in your life; there is no profit or prestige motive, no career path.  With abundant time and a wonderful assemblage of talents, here is the chance to get down to being who we are. To find that something within that always wanted to be expressed.

So, as this blog is launched, let me hear from you.  Your questions are welcome and will be shared with the Second to Last Chapter community.  My email is paul@secondtolastchapter.com.

And please dip into the book…here is the introduction to Your Second to Last Chapter: Creating a Meaningful Life on Your Own Terms.

Paul Wilkes