Ambition in Our Senior Years??

Should we still have ambition in our senior years or is this just a time to give that up?  That is a question that has been dogging me lately. My wife, for the most part, has not had much ambition, at least by my standards, for the last twenty-five years. She is totally content to live her daily life in exactly the same very passive manner day after day. She does not see the need or desire to become involved in much of anything; she does not dream of things outside her usual daily existence.  I on the other hand can’t seem to shake still wanting to do things that make a difference in my life. She tells me I am getting weird when I mention such things.

Just what is ambition? Here is what the dictionary says it is:

Am·bi·tion   [am-bish-uhn]  Show IPA noun

1. an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor,fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment

2. the object, state, or result desired or sought after.

3. desire for work or activity; energy. verb (used with object)

4. to seek after earnestly; aspire to.

I want to have a reason for my life even, or maybe particularly, in my senior years. I am just not satisfied with lying back and letting life flow past me waiting for the end. I guess this goes back to one of Will Roger’s quotes that I posted about recently and that is success is being satisfied with your life.  Maybe I still have ambition because I am just not satisfied with what I have accomplished so far.

I realize that There are things that I have discovered in my senior years that I wish I had known much earlier in life. It probably would have changed my life path in significant ways. Too bad we can’t carry this life’s experiences and knowledge into the next one. That is assuming the a next life actually exists.

Does there come a time when ambition must go by the wayside? I just don’t know the answer to that question but I personally don’t think I will ever give up aspiring to new challenges in my life.

6 thoughts on “Ambition in Our Senior Years??

  1. Don’t be so hard on your wife. Clearly, men and women are wired differently when it comes to ambition and satisfaction. When I look around at friends, neighbors, and relatives I can see that. Men are the ones who usually have the wanderlust and need to see and do as much as they can. Women may enjoy the trips and fishing, golfing, etc…but are often acquiescing to their husbands stronger interest…not always…there are always exceptions.
    I am sure you could research this topic for better opinions, but in general I think men see themselves as more able to achieve great things in the workplace, politics, etc…not because of lesser IQ but because of gender bias by employers and also having different priorities…home and family first and foremost. I think our ambitions, if you will , DO lie in our more immediate lives for the most part. That is where we can achieve the most and get the most satisfaction. Women like to learn new things that relate to those areas in their lives more often than men who like to learn about sports and machines and space and building things…BIG things. These are clearly generalizations, and just my
    observations…could be wrong…probably am.


  2. Thanks for your wisdom Jane. In many ways I think you are right and have described by wife to a tee. She simply gets pleasure/satisfaction on the simple things in life. Me, not so much, I want to make a difference (ha).


  3. Your article here smacks of a lot of “shoulds”, which I try to avoid. What “should” we be doing vs what do we wish to do? And a lot of that depends on one’s philosophical reference points. If “making a difference” is important to you, then go for it, surely. I spent a lifetime of trying to “make a difference” (in education and in politics, among other things) and am now quite content to be relevant mainly to myself and to my family/friends/neighbors, with some minor continued activism on the side. For me, i found that “making a difference” was laden with a great deal of ego-fulfilment, which I no longer seek.


  4. Hi Steve, thanks for the comments. First of all let me tell you that my “making a difference” has nothing to do with ego. I just feel that I spent much of my life being too self-centered and now need to make up for that condition. To me “making a difference” is not about politics or power but about serving the “least of these”. That is those who have had a much rougher life than I have been fortunate to have. They deserve to not have to struggle so much and to know that God loves them even if they don’t sometimes believe He shows it.

    I salute you as a long time Quaker educator. You certainly have made a difference in much of your life. I am just trying to catch up 🙂


  5. Hmm. What do you mean exactly when you say your wife has no ambition. Does that mean she’s comfortable in her daily life where she is? If so I would not call that a lack of ambition. Some people need to do more, some less. for example, Tamara over at Extreme Early retirement feel sthe need to regularly be challenged and put out of her comfort zone. That’s not me. Do I want to use my brain and my body? Obviously or I wouldnt be going to school. but I am perfectly happy to spend my days at home, doing occasional volunteer work, traveling occasionally and letting life flow as it will the rest of the time.

    I do agree that when two people have drastically different takes on the subject it can be problematic if you are not a couple who cand eal with separate interests and occasional separation.


  6. Thanks for the input Barb. After 26 years my wife and I are used to our marked differences. When I say my wife has no ambitions, by my standards, does not imply that we are having problems. I have recognized these differences and accept them. As you say we have learned to deal with our separate interests.

    I am like Tamara I guess. I like to be constantly challenged and my wife is completely settled with how it is and always has been. I don’t really understand that but I do accept it as long as she accepts that I am the way that I am. So far so good in that respect.


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