A Seaman's Journey

Adventures of a Lifetime

Logo

Seasons of Life

Destination Unknown

Life itself is a journey in which we focus on one destination at a time.  Each destination that we reach is replaced by the next leg of the journey.  No one can see the final destination clearly but we can know the direction in which we need to travel.

There is no Google Maps App that tells you how far your goal is and what obstacles you will find along the way.  But there are others that have followed the trail that you are on, who can act as guides for your journey.

Life Stages

Life is nothing like a smooth line of progress toward a fixed end point.  Instead it is a series of plateaus that we must negotiate.  Climbing to the next plateau is very difficult and requires building new skills and ways of thinking. Figuring out how to thrive in one season of life will lead to a time of peace and prosperity.

But soon all of what has been learned is not enough to bring fulfillment in the next stage.  To make progress requires that you go through another painful transition of personal growth.  This is the journey of life.  To live is to struggle. With times of deep fulfillment and peace.

Like any mountain climbing there are ways of getting to the next plateau that are easier than others.  Our goal is to find the easiest way to the next level of elevation without slipping and falling.  When we do fall we must get back up and resume the climb.

Stopping Along the Way

There are always those who refuse the make the journey.  They stop somewhere along the way and stop growing.  Some refuse to transition to adulthood and are unwilling to take on responsibility for themselves or others.

Some people find themselves unable to make the transition from success to significance.  They invest the remainder of their lives in the future pursuit of more.  Their identity is defined by Performance, Popularity,  Possessions, and Power.

And others never break through the idea that life is about something more than what we DO.  It is about who we ARE and who we are BECOMING.  This is the end game of our lives, and close to our final destination.  We simply learn to BE and are content with our selves and others.  This is a place of wisdom and peace.

Life's Journey

Life is a journey ... from birth to death, we walk the world and try to make sense of our lives.  Life goes through seasons.  Each of these seasons is fundamentally different requiring an entirely unique approach.  What works in one season of life is completely dysfunctional during another season.  When I was a child I thought and acted like a child, but as an adult that is completely inappropriate.

About every two decades there is a substantial change in the circumstances of daily life.  This pushes us into a time of rapid growth which is always unpleasant.  Suddenly, new demands are placed upon us and we are unprepared with them productively.  This causes a crisis where we begin asking questions that we cannot answer.  The crisis marks the invitation to the quest for answers.

Each season of life is related to the life circumstances that we face.  As our situation changes we are unprepared for how to success.  This causes a time of  crisis.  The season is related to events but tends to follow a twenty year cycle time.  Your mileage may vary based on your specific conditions.

Each season of life is governed by a primary quest, which represents deep questions of meaning.  The answers for last season no longer work and must be replaced by deeper answers for the truths that are now at play.  When you face a time in your life where truths you have previously embraced stop working then you are truly at a crisis point.  This is the invitation. And so the quest begins.

On life's journey there are four major quests that must be accepted and fulfilled.  It is impossible to live a full life without completing these quests. Each quest must be completed before the next one begins.  In order to thrive you must fulfill each quest that is before you.  Many of us will end our life before we have completed all of the quests, but staying in the game and seeking the next goal gives meaning to each day.

Quarter Stage and Age Power and Wisdom Prime Directive
Spring Youth (0-20) low power, low wisdom Quest for Belonging
Summer Young Adult (20-40) high power, low wisdom Quest for Success
Autumn Midlife (40-60) high power, high wisdom Quest for Purpose
Winter Old Age (60-80+) low power, high wisdom Quest for Wisdom

The game of life is played out over four quarters. Each of these marks a season of life with its own unique

Quarters of Play

People progress through the seasons of life as they age.  It is possible to get stuck on a level and not successfully make a transition.  This can be very difficult and painful.  Leveling up in the game of life requires a certain level of physical, emotional, social, financial, and spiritual development.  If these things do not occur then you still may to forced to play on the next level, even though being unprepared.

Nature of Quests

Quests are dangerous and difficult.  No one chooses a quest; they are thrust upon us.  And we must choose fight or flight. 

The only way to avoid a quest that chooses you is to decide to avoid the conflict altogether.  This is actually a viable choice for many.  But it means that you will never see what lies at the end of the road, and never reap the treasure and glory of overcoming.

The other choice is to stand and fight.  There will be terrible losses and great victories along the way. Major monsters must be overcome both external and internal.  There will be days where the very quest itself will appear to be a fool's errand that is sure to end in defeat.  But the warrior and seeker the quest brings salvation.

Life itself is about pursuing the quest that lies before us. The only true failure that we can experience in life is the failure to try.  Being defeated by any foe, internal and external, is temporary.  We will be knocked down, but we get back up and continue the quest. 

A big part about a quest is not knowing precisely what lies at the end of the road.  The quest begins when the seeker believes that something extraordinary awaits and beckons.  The prize must be so great that no danger is too great and no other goal compares.  The pearl of great price.  The quest is accepted when I agree that no other prize will be more worthy of my life.  A quest is not a goal, but rather a bundle of all the goals in my life.

Four Quests

Each stage of life is defined by a set of circumstances and problems that must be solved.  You can't succeed at this level until you can solve the problems that block your way. While you must face some challenges that are unique, there are problems that are universally shared at this stage of life. Being human requires us to face certain realities at common points in our development.

This problem-solving is so difficult that it becomes the defining measure of our success.  Each quest consumes much of our total focus and energy during the matching stage of life. This drives our very existence and is ultimately tied to our happiness and self-worth.  It is impossible to be fulfilled without completing the quest. 

During our lifetime we will be challenged with four unique quests.  You can't go on to the next quest without completing the prerequisite quest first.  As we age we are all confronted with realities that we would like to avoid. Dysfunction sets in when we refuse to rise to the challenges that are set out by the quest.

Belonging

The gauntlet is thrown down and must be accepted.  When the quest calls we must answer.  There is no good alternative.  During childhood and our teen years we have the Quest for Belonging.  This requires that we learn how we fit into the larger world. We must integrate all of the demands of our family, school, job training, and society to gain an understanding of how to function.

If we fail to gain this understanding then it is impossible to succeed as a young adult. Many people stumble at this first transition. They may have problems in skills, family relationships, schooling, or relating to society.  These issues may follow them for years while they are trying to start a family and career.  Fulfilling the Quest for Belonging allows people to get through the first major life transition.

Success

The Young Adult years are defined by the Quest of Success. During this quest a person grapples with career and family development.  It is very difficult to control and balance the multiple demands that are required to manage both a career and family.  This is a painful time for most people because so much of life is out of our direct control.  Success requires us to be amazingly resilient and flexible as we respond to the unexpected setbacks.

Dreams from earlier in life are put on hold because of the pressures of survival and caring for others.  People during this season of life typically struggle with finding joy in daily life.  Most people feel that their life is not at all what they wished for and may become quite angry or depressed.  This drives the second major transition, which occurs when people reach about 40. 

Purpose

The Quest for Purpose defines the Midlife experience for ages 40-60.  Many people start their midlife season by burning down the life that was built as a Young Adult in an attempt to restore lost dreams.  This is always a mistake and a better answer is to make small adjustments to the existing circumstances, rather than trash the old life completely.

The Quest for Purpose seeks to add meaning to the success.  This comes as a result of an understanding of my unique potential and how that should be applied to family and career.  There is a deep sense of fulfillment as I realize that there are opportunities that are custom made for me.  I discover that I can make a unique contribution which gives meaning and purpose to my life. This may be a time of life for discovering new dreams and recovering old ones.

Wisdom

The final quest begins when we have found our purpose but that is no longer enough.  In the final quarter of life we are driven by the Quest for Enlightenment.  This builds on our success and purpose in life. But the final season requires passing on wisdom and building a legacy.  Contribution is no longer fulfilling unless it results in influence.  Knowing how to do things must be converted into teaching others how to do things.

This is what it looks like to finish well.  A life well lived requires one to fulfill all four quests.