The Daily Stoic Journal provides reflections on the readings from The Daily Stoic. They kickstart your journey into self-awareness, the first attribute required to change your life.
You are the author of your life. Imagine your life as a book filled with empty pages. You get to create your life on those pages by envisioning yourself in the future. Here are a few of the posers offered in the Daily Stoic Journal and by other philosophers to get you started:
What is my purpose in life?
Who am I and what do I stand for?
What distractions are interfering with my intentions?
I have written five segments of my 73rd chapter of my life. I envision myself as one who will be living in peace and harmony. I relish in filling the pages with my dreams and progress.
Socrates: We can't remain as we are.
Are we rotting or are we ripening? Ryan Holiday poses this question to us in 'Discipline is Destiny.' Who I am today is not whom I want to be tomorrow. My journey on this earth is meant to be one of constant self-improvement, to learn new knowledge or a skill every day and then embrace it, inhale it and apply it. The Japanese term for self-improvement is kaizen - continual improvement. Holiday states that this is a journey of a lifetime, making a little progress every day during the course of our lives. We are an unfinished work.
My friend is preparing to make the transition, to pass, but she is not not finished with her work. Her novel needs to be completed first so she is still working on the final chapters.
The question I have for you is "Are you going to remain as you are are? Or are are you going to strive to be what you are capable of?"
If you are what you do, then when you stop doing, you aren't"
LETTING GO OF LABELS
You are not what you do
Much of our life is determined by labels - how we identify ourselves. We make the transition from "I am a student" to "I am a secretary, CEO, teacher..." to "I am a wife/husband/father/mother/" We are identified by what we do, instead of by who we are. And when we stop doing, who are we?
When I retired and moved to Paradise, California, I had to let go of various identities - professor, counselor, director of Independent Learning - and it terrified me. How do I identify myself now? Of course, I did not have to concern myself with this as the label of "victim" was thrust upon me after the fire destroyed the town. It took many months to go from "victim" to "survivor" and years to get to "thriver."
The pandemic wiped away so many identities overnight, leaving people confused about their future.
For a year before the pandemic, I had managed to gain a new identity, that of a substitute teacher. I sunk into a deep depression after I was unable to work. The long days stretched ahead of me, and nothing to do to fill the hours. My fiancé and I made the decision to make a fresh start and move near Palm Springs, California. It was bold move, not knowing anyone and I had no hobbies to occupy my time. But slowly, we immersed ourselves in our local community, and met many other retirees.
I discovered that I was not alone in my dilemma about identity crisis. Some people delayed fully retiring because they could not let go of the identity they had for most of their lives. But once they embraced the idea of retirement, they felt free for the first time in years. "It's like removing a mask that I had been wearing most of life!" They were no longer valued for what they do but for who they are.
If you are contemplating retirement, remember that whatever label you have does not define you, it defines what you do and not who you are. Letting go of your label is not letting go of your identity, who you really are, your essence.