Fun Flexible & Free


The picture to the right is of one of my summer offices.  It’s one of the small things I enjoy most about living a life on purpose in that I can move my offices to the outside from about early April to mid-October.  I share this pictures with you because today’s article is about how to design such a life for yourself — what I’ve come to think of as an Encore Performance kind of life. Of course, you don’t have to wait until your later years to create such a life.  I actually started the process when I was still in my early forties, so I guess you could say that I’m in my second encore.

Designing a Fun, Flexible and Freeing Encore Performance Life

More and more people are realizing that there’s too much life left at sixty to waste it all playing shuffleboard, golf or bridge (or even my personal favorite – Senior League softball). Oh sure, some of that can be a lot of fun but maybe, at least for some people, it’s time to design an Encore Performance kind of life.

So, let’s start by considering a working definition for an Encore Performance Life. To do so, take a moment to consider this definition of encore:

A second achievement especially that surpasses the first.

So, playing off of this concept, an encore performance life or lifestyle would be a second kind of life that surpasses the first, but in what way?  Well, each person gets to say in what way they want their next phase of life to surpass the first. This is where identifying some of the possible qualities and attributes of such a life could be helpful.

Like I said,the qualities and attributes might vary somewhat from person to person, but here are some of the most common aspects I have found most people are looking for in their Encore Performance Life.

Freedom & Flexibility

One of the most common things I’ve heard from my clients over the years as we’ve begun to design their Encore Performance Life is that this go round they want to have a lot more control over their own schedule and their own destiny.  Many of people have found themselves stuck in a very confining work life where they had very little flexibility in their schedule and where it felt like their destiny was pretty much under the control of their boss and/or the company they’ve worked for. In fact, it’s been this way for so much of their life that the notion of having real freedom and flexibility in their schedule is almost beyond what they can imagine, and yet beginning to imagine such a life is a great place to start.

For example, prior to starting my work today (writing this article), I spent the first couple of hours playing ping pong as part of the local Senior Games. Earlier in the week, I also took off some time from my normal work schedule to compete in horseshoes and later in tennis. I could do this because I’ve taken the time to first, imagine such a life, and then to design it over time.

So, if having a freeing and flexible schedule in which you’re in control of your own destiny is important to you, spend a little time this week just imagining what such a life would be like.  If you’re like most people, you may also start to notice some of the real or perceived obstacles that might prevent you from having a truly freeing and flexible life. If this happens, just make note of them a this point, then get back to imagining.

Purposeful, Passion Filled & Fulfilling

Another common set of qualities many people are looking for in their Encore Performance Life is that it be purposeful, filled with activities they’re passionate about, and that gives them the experience of being truly fulfilling. Again, many people have found themselves in their ‘regular performance life’ caught in work and other activities that has grown to feel pretty meaningless, that doesn’t seem to make much of a difference, or that they’ve lost (if they ever had it) any real passion for. So, if you’ve found yourself in such a life, it makes sense to add these as important qualities to include as you begin to design your Encore Performance.  You can start by asking yourself some thought-evoking coaching questions like:

What am I really passionate about?

If you find that the word, “passion” doesn’t evoke anything, try “really interested in” or “curious about.” It’s completely fine to spend several days pondering upon these questions. Talk to other people, look around you at activities that are available that look interesting. Remember back to your early school days when you may have been present to more possibilities in your life. You might find some old dreams there that you could now brush off and bring back to life.
Try this question, borrowed from the Life On Purpose Process:

“If time, energy, money or talent were unlimited who would you be, and what would you do as a way of expressing who you are?”

You see, by asking yourself questions like this, you set a powerful intention for answers to come to you. That’s why it’s important to give yourself some time to let the answers bubble to the surface. When they do, write them down.  Don’t worry, you aren’t committing to anything at this point.  You’re just in the brainstorming mode.

Fun and Engaging

Closely related to our last set of qualities is that your Encore Performance Life also be fun and engaging.  Haven’t you spent enough of your life putting off or pushing away activities that are truly fun and engaging. I don’t mean just entertaining — activities that are engaging often go beyond pure entertainment.  Reading a book or watching a TV show, play or movie can all be entertaining, but writing a book, producing a show or being in a play is far more engaging while at the time being really a lot of fun.

One Last Point: To Be or Not to Be Profitable

This last criteria is optional.  Do you want and/or need your Encore Performance to be a money-making endeavors?  If you answer yes to this question, then at what level do you want it to be income producing? I place this criteria at the end of the list because I believe it should be considered after all the other ones. In fact, I’d keep it out of the equation during the initial brainstorming sessions.

Why?  Well, simply put, most of us have so much Inherited Purpose garbage (read – fear and lack based thinking) that the question of ‘how do I make money at X, Y, or Z’ can serve as a very wet blanket dousing any spark of creativity and possibility in the early going. So be vigilant about this one.