Finding Meaningful Contribution After Retirement

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"A wise, warm and wonderful book for anyone wondering “What next?” Filled with practical advice and profound wisdom, Paul Wilkes’ brave new book makes the perfect companion for anyone ready to apply their hard-fought experience and hard-won knowledge to the world’s needs, both great and small."
-- James Martin, SJ, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything

"With millions of Americans entering their so-called "retirement years", and with so many of them having few material needs but a hunger in their souls to make this "second to last chapter" count, American writer, speaker, and filmmaker Paul Wilkes offers the practical counsel of one who has already been there in "Your Second to Last Chapter: Creating a Meaningful Life on Your Own Terms". As Wilkes writes: "The last thing we want to do in our remaining productive years is count the daisies and days. We want to matter, to accomplish something that matters. Something is stirring within us and demands a response." "Your Second to Last Chapter" is a time when seniors are at the peak of their powers, wise in years, brimming with experience, and ready to take on fresh new challenges. "Your Second to Last Chapter" shows just how to match passion and abilities with human needs in new ways that will use draw upon personal talents to fullest and provide the deepest personal satisfaction possible. While very highly recommended for Senior Citizen Center, community, and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Your Second to Last Chapter" is also available in a paperback edition."  --Midwest Book Review

"When I read Paul Wilkes’ book a whole new mindset emerged. We’ve had vital, exciting careers, why stop now? But here’s the irony: what you end up doing in this phase is nothing you can plan for….it FINDS you. I thought that was crazy until it happened to me. I would have never planned to start an All-Girls Leadership School. Wilkes’ book will walk you through how to let go of the old and open yourself completely to a new and fulfilling Second to the Last Chapter. I assure you it will be the best chapter of your life."
--Judy Girard, President Emeritus, FOOD network and HGTV

"Many individuals approaching retirement with some success under their belts start to hear an internal voice prodding them to “give back.” If
you are one of these people, listen to that voice and learn from this wise and compelling book. At once visionary and realistic, it will show you how to use the penultimate chapter of your life to serve human needs in an effective and deeply soul-satisfying way."
-- Bill Simon, co-founder, William E. Simon & Sons, global merchant bank

"Modern science has given our generation a wondrous gift — three extra decades in our lives. With this gift, we have the option of playing golf every
day for 30 years. But Paul Wilkes has a better idea — living these years with a new meaning."
-- Jim Toedtman, former editor, AARP Bulletin


"Just when one thinks the last book on aging well has been written, another one pops up. However, Your Second To Last Chapter is not to be missed or dismissed. Paul Wilkes offers a fresh look at this segment of life, one that affects more Americans than in past decades. Living longer becomes the canvas upon which one is invited to paint a powerfully moving portrait of grace. From his opening volley of remembrance to the concluding quote from Thomas Merton, Wilkes will not leave us in complacent passivity just because we are now in the second to last…even the last…chapter of life.

His accentuation of the penultimate is powerful. It presses the reader onward and inward while making the journey both spiritual and salvific. “We found our true identity, our soul, when we were asked and gave the most of ourselves….We can no longer relate to ourselves as merely a compilation of personal needs and worldly goals.” 

The words challenge retirees whose idea of free time is fun—play that quickly evokes restlessness, an itch that is not relieved until it is scratched with a hunger for meaning. There is a repeated caution, a warning not to turn a blind eye to another’s radiant smile. Its warmth heals as much as it hurts.

With refreshing ‘breaks’ given by way of quotes and stories, especially Wilkes presentation of his personal encounters and experience, the reader is better able to ingest and internalize the evoked challenges. Wilkes speaks of discernment in a manner that mimics Pauline caution. Listen to the choir of voices that sing in our lives but attend most closely to the one crying out in the desert of our spirit, Divinity echoing in the chambers of our heart. Reclaim it, welcome it, but always know it cannot be summoned. These thoughts begin an awareness of false spirits which can foul and foil the best intentions of those seeking to create a meaningful life.

In response to naysayers, including ourselves, Wilkes provides a simple solution, “You are more ready than you realize…if you open yourself to the possibility, it will find you.” The advice is more than refreshing to folks who are uneasy with initiating action for fear of failure, as well as those who do nothing for fear of success.

Honesty reverberates throughout the book. Wilkes addresses a variety of issues with contagiously undeterred optimism. Resistance to change, fear of being consumed—of having our hearts pierced—concern that no one really understands, wondering if there is really enough ‘juice’ left, worry that there is no clear idea of how to proceed are all summarily banished as obstacles and re-introduced as opportunities.

Wilkes carefully reminds the reader to view his personal ‘draw to India’ as but an example of the power of a dream discerned in unequal steps of success and surprise. His call is best heard in the quoted words of Albert Schweitzer: “I don’t know what your destiny will be but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” 

Everyone has a unique chance to live fully in the embrace of the second to last chapter of life. Wilkes begs: 'Choose it'."

--Fran Salone-Pelletier