George Jerjian, 68, an Emmy-award winning producer and author of “Dare to Discover Your Purpose: Retire, Refire, Rewire”, quit his job at 60 and decided to retire early after a near-death experience.
Upon retirement, he felt bored and purposeless, and his relationships suffered. He then started wondering, “Is this all there is?”
In search for answers, he signed up for a 30-day retreat in St. Beunos, a former Jesuit seminary in North Wales (U.K.) that’s now a spiritual retreat center.
Culled from his article “68-year-old who unretired: I went on a 30-day silent retreat – what I learned about how to live a happy, regret-free life” posted on cnbc.com, Jerjian shares the following four profound lessons he learned out of his 30-day retreat.
1. Trying to control outcomes will make you miserable
“Before the retreat, I was a control freak. The idea of ‘letting go’ in any part of my life was out of the question. But during an exercise at St. Beuno’s, I was asked to think about what I truly had control over. I realized that just one unanticipated event could send my life into chaos. I reflected on how much time I spent worrying about outcomes that I couldn’t predict or control.
“Now, when I want something good to happen, I imagine that it has already happened and feel grateful for it. This mindset helps me move forward. By focusing on taking the next steps, I am no longer focusing on the outcome.”
2. If you’re not thankful, you’re not thinking straight
“Research has shown that gratitude blocks toxic emotions like envy and regret, reduces stress, and improves happiness. During the retreat, I was in a challenging period of my life. At one point, I was asked to reflect on all the homes I had lived in, what good and bad things happened there.
“It dawned on me that no opportunity in my life could have come about without the preceding crisis, so I should appreciate every moment.”
3. To find purpose, follow your passion
“Money always came first in my career. I never stopped to ask questions like, ‘What work should I do based on my interest and feelings?’ During the retreat, though, I had nothing to think about but my feelings.
“Three weeks in, I broke down weeping thinking about all the people I had hurt. But on the last day, the tears came from a place of joy and love. I realized that my true fear was hurting others, and that my passion was helping people. In the years after the retreat, I chose to unretire and serve retirees with my coaching business.”
4. We are not always who we think we are
“For 60 years, I constructed a persona based on what my parents, teachers, employers, partners and friends wanted. I never thought about who I was beyond those external pressures. I had spent decades lost and ashamed of who I really was.
“Think about whether there’s something about yourself that you hide from the world. Try to embrace that thing. For me, it was gentleness and understanding that changed my life.”
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