When the career ends, the kids leave home, a church calling ends, a leadership position you have filled disappears, or your body ages, you might feel like a bit of a "has been". The attention is gone. The feeling of purpose and importance is missing. You are out of the lime light. The work you enjoyed may be diminished. Your feelings of self worth might be challenged. Believe me, you are not a "has been" unless you give up. What you are feeling is the need to find a new purpose. You need something that stirs you to action, that allows you to grow and achieve. Become a "Will Be" rather than a "Has Been".
Ok, I'll admit that you might have to accept that you "have been" something else than what you are becoming, but your are not done yet. Just because your children left home doesn't mean that you're not still their parent. And,if you're lucky, children leaving home might mean that you'll soon be a grandparent which will add even more purpose to your life. You can still work for, help, teach, love, and support (in healthy ways) the children who have left home. You can still encourage and believe in them. Perhaps you'll be able to help your grandchildren and great grandchildren too!
If one career ends and you want to keep working, start another. Take an inventory of your skills, education, experience, and interests and get busy designing the career you want. Perhaps this time you'll do it for yourself. You may wish to change to something that pays less, but gives you more personal satisfaction or something that pays more and gives you personal satisfaction to boot. Be creative. Figure out your work purpose and begin educating yourself on that topic. Study, prepare, and begin moving in that direction. You might be surprised what will open up to you. Your experience is valuable, perhaps more than you now realize.
When my former boss, Jim Fee, retired he found an inspiring purpose (or maybe it found him). He helps an orphanage in Uganda. His organization is called Achon Uganda Children's Fund. You can see their website here: http://achonugandachildren.org/. His business skills, leadership, imagination, and work ethic have worked magic for this deserving group of orphans. His work inspires me to do more and be better. Take a moment and visit their website and read about the Fund and the story of its founder. You'll probably find it inspiring too. Jim shows that there is life and purpose after career. Do you think he has found any satisfaction in helping those children? You bet he has. His whole family is involved now. All of them are doing good work and reaping the rewards that only service can bring. You might think about making a donation to the fund too.
Do you think you're to old? Look around and you'll probably find people older and less fit than you are who are still engaged in work. Many of them are profitably engaged. Many of them are happier and more satisfied with their second career than they were with their first career. The possibilities are there.
If you are retired, find a purpose. Perhaps there is a charity, an orphanage, a cause, or some other philanthropic work that you can serve that will have meaning for you. Perhaps you can become more involved in your church, in missionary work, in helping out at the local hospital, or in 100 other things that will give meaning, purpose, and satisfaction to your life. Stay connected and involved; it will add years of happiness to your life and will do great things for your self respect and for the people and organizations that you serve.
Purpose, service, love, work, achievement, and many other good things are still available to you if you'll open your eyes to the possibilities, use a little imagination, and make a commitment. Get a new dream, create a noble vision, develop some goals, draw out an action plan, and get to work. You can still add value in the world.
I've made more money in the ten years since I "retired from my career" than I did in the previous ten years. I'm not doing what I always did, but I am enjoying what I'm doing. I'm getting new experiences, learning new things, stretching, and using more creativity. I'm venturing into areas of interest to me, rather than just what is interesting to my employer. I have found profit in my interests. I expect I'll find more. I find purpose, joy, happiness, growth, love, and satisfaction in the things I do now. As much as ever, I still serve my family. In some ways I serve them better now than I did when I was younger. Don't just fade away. Serve a purpose. Make good things happen. Become a "Will Be" rather than a "Has Been."
If you were a leader, you can still find places to lead. Whatever you were, whatever you did, whatever skills you possessed, you will find they have value somewhere else.
Make sure you are taking time to take care of your physical, mental and spiritual health too. Those things need your attention as well as you become something more, and/or something new. How will you describe yourself going forward? Do you have the imagination to become something new?
May I recommend a couple of movies that will help you to see that there is life after career change, even for the aged? Have you seen the movie "Cinderella Man"? I also recommend you watch the movie "Seabiscuit".. Don't you love "come back" stories? Why not commit to become a "come back story" yourself? You are just a decision and a commitment away.
Find some people, some causes, some dreams to love, serve, help, encourage, and develop and you'll find that you are not a "has been" at all. What will you become?
See also this article by Chris Tew, Commit to a Stong Finish in the Last Lap of Life's Race https://www.area-info.net/articles/show.php?cty=Layton&st=Utah&article_id=1981