Has life’s second half crept up on you yet?
Imagine that every day a deposit of $1440 is made to your bank account. You cannot save it; you must spend it or it will automatically disappear at the end of each day.
This is analogous to time. Each new day, 1440 minutes are deposited in our “life account.” We can’t hold on to this deposit, can’t store it up for tomorrow; it is irretrievably gone at the end of each day.
Time is said to be the most important thing in life. That’s because we measure everything in terms of time, even our very existence. The sand in the hourglass begins to fall from the moment we are born; the wick on the candle begins to burn; life’s clock starts ticking.
The Second Half of the Game of Life
Our life-clock ticks faster the older we get, or so it seems for many of us. Every day some 12,000 Americans celebrate their 50th birthday, many of whom are literally frightened by this.
For those in crisis at midlife, Bob Buford offers hope and insight in his book titled, Half Time: Moving from Success to Significance.
Buford uses the ballgame as an analogy to make the point that you win or lose the game of life in the second half. People expect, and even excuse, fumbles in the first half. But not having a strategy or making major blunders in the second half often leads to disappointment as the game ends.
In the game of life, getting and winning are usually the focus of the first half. During the second half our focus may well change to giving and releasing. In the first we discover the difference between doing things right (efficiency), and doing right things (effectiveness).
What Has Experience Taught Us?
“Half time” isn’t escape from reality, nor is it a reaction to something negative. Rather, it is a pause to face the reality of what experience has taught us thus far and prioritizing our second half accordingly. It isn’t so much about finding a new job as it is about embracing a new paradigm, a fresh set of lenses through which to see the world.
On that basis, Buford recommends this simple halftime strategy: Craft your ending epitaph in advance and spend the rest of your life making sure it reflects the truth about you.
Admittedly, thinking about one’s epitaph can seem morbid and daunting. So to help us with this process, Buford highlights several life questions that all who hope to end well should be asking:
What do I want to be remembered for? What about money? How am I feeling about my career right now? Am I living a balanced life? What is the primary loyalty in my life? To whom do I look for inspiration, mentors, and working models for my second half? Peter Drucker said that two important needs are self-realization and community. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest), how am I doing in these areas? 1
The Secret to Finishing Well
To probe these questions is to enter what Buford calls “the heart’s holiest chamber.” To answer them honestly and be guided by those answers is to live from life’s center, where lies the secret to finishing well.
Since none of us knows for sure when our life will end and thus exactly when we’ve reached halftime, this is critical. For those who will live into their nineties, anytime from forty to fifty can be halftime. But someone who won’t see their fiftieth birthday is way into their halftime at age thirty.
The Halftime Principle
Buford’s business success during the rise of the cable television industry brought him to half-time earlier than most. Challenged about what to do with the rest of his life, he began searching, which led to the halftime principle.
By the way, Buford’s epitaph is “100X.” That’s it? That’s it! It comes from the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, and simply means “100 times.”
On pages 24-25 he writes: “I want to be the seed that was planted in good soil and multiplied. It is how I want to live. It is how I attempt to express my passions and my core commitments. It is how I envision my own legacy. I want to be a symbol of higher yield, in life and in death.”
The Way You Can Live Life
Wow! I get goosebumps reading that. What a powerful statement, a clear and beautiful mental picture of the way you can live life. It reminds me of this quote by Soren Kierkegard: “The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do … to find the idea for which I can live and die.”
This halftime concept has been around for a long time; he originally published the book in 1994. But it’s still in print, no doubt because its overarching principle is timeless. Marking my 50th birthday by taking time away to read it was a truly remarkable experience.
From Success to Significance
Now in my sixties, I’m still working on my halftime strategy, still crafting my epitaph. Thus far, at least, I’ve been able to switch my focus from success to significance.
According to Buford, “Success often involves carrying your box with you as you head for the top but never knowing what’s in it. Significance begins by stopping wherever you are on the journey to see what’s in the box and then reordering your life around its contents.” 2
What’s in your box? What success ladder are you climbing? When will you stop long enough to take inventory? Will you “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:15) and thereby make the most of the years left to you?What’s in your box? What success ladder are you climbing? When will you stop long enough to take inventory? - Whaid Rose Click To Tweet
For those who already have the half-time concept under their belts, more power to you! For those still searching, check this out and make the most of life’s second half: Half Time: Moving from Success to Significance.
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- Have questions about how you fit into Christian leadership? Check out these resources:
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- Our Work and Our Worship: Labor Day Reflections for Committed Disciples - September 3, 2021
- Leading with a Limp - August 20, 2021