So You've Walked On the Moon, What's Next?

So You've Walked On the Moon, What's Next?

Apollo 15 astronaut David Scott reached the pinnacle of his career when he landed on and returned safely from the Moon. He was 39 years old. “My career had been finished,” he later told a reporter "and that's it. Now go find a new career.” There Scott was at 39 asking: What’s next? What do you do after you’ve landed on the Moon?

How many of us after we’ve finished our careers and retired have asked: What’s next?

I was 70 when I retired from a 45-year career that I loved.

Imagine, getting to do what you REALLY, REALLY LOVE. Imagine your job is something which for you is the most important way you could use your life. That’s how my career was for me.

Over the course of 45 years, I got to know and interact at a profound level with over 150,000 people from diverse cultures all over the planet, empowering them to create lives they loved. It was my version of a Moon walk. And then it was finished.

So, I’d Walked on the Moon.

What was next?

I used my newfound time to walk on the beach, read, and study. I discovered a new love–Pilates. I meditated. I spent time with family and friends. Basically, I did whatever I wanted to do.

But below the surface lurked a kind of a disturbing feeling, like an itch I couldn’t quite reach.

One day I got to that itch. It was something I had been saying to myself and had not heard. It went like this: I guess the best part of my life is over. I am never going to be that satisfied, that challenged, and that happy again.

I understood then that the part of my life where I made a real difference, where every day challenged me mentally and physically, and where I got the privilege of making a profound difference for people, was over. Worse, I understood that nothing I was going to do would ever match that life. Cue violins.

But then I saw “nothing I am going to do will ever match the job and the life I loved ” for what it was. I woke up to the reality that it was a lie, not true, in short, an interpretation.

I had been blind to the fact that it was an interpretation and it had cost me.

It had been sucking the life out of me, costing me loving my life, and blocking me from my power in creating what was next.

I took a stand. I refused to keep letting that interpretation guide my actions. I declined to let a circumstance (any circumstance) determine the quality of my life.

Being jolted by the falsity of that interpretation blew open a pathway to my creativity. I had room to create “what’s next”.

Now I have new questions: What is going to leave me being satisfied? Fulfilled? Proud of my life? What am I passionate about? How do I find what’s next? How will I know if I am choosing the “right” what’s next?

On the Path

Let me share with you what has shown up.

Being on the path to “what’s next” took cultivating loving the uncertainty.

I found I needed to defeat the drive to “have to know” and to have to know it NOW. ‘Not knowing’ is the space in which creativity happens.

Discovering for myself requires bravery. It requires that I give up worrying about whether I’m taking the right action, going in the right direction, or wasting time. I won’t analyze myself into paralysis. There are no wrong actions in this game.

Getting into the Game

Getting into and exploring what is next is giving me new openings for action. I know I cannot discover what’s next without getting into the game – I have to pick up the bat and swing. I have to lean into opportunities.

I keep listening for: What touches me? What moves me? What am I passionate about?

And recently, something quite unexpected caught my attention.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, I am seeing the real impact the people who govern have on our lives. I found myself being moved by the possibility of shifting political climates and making a difference in people’s lives.

I am in action. I am interviewing accomplished friends who have shaped public policy for years. I’m studying a lot. I’m studying the constitution. I’m studying people who govern as they speak on TV. I’m meeting people who hold office, I’m connecting to groups with visions and purposes similar to mine. I’m sharing.

Act 3

Maybe this is or is not my “what’s next”.

I am all in.

I have come to learn that when I’m walking the path to discover “what’s next” there is no wasted time. All detours bear fruit.

Why? Because in consciously authoring the third act of my life, I am living it now.

Alan Bean (Apollo 12) was another human who walked on the Moon. He continued working with NASA after returning to Earth. Then, after 18 years as an astronaut and 1,671 hours in space, he chose to become a full-time painter.

Bean, who passed away in 2018, said he took up painting because he had been “fortunate enough to visit worlds and see sights no artist’s eye, past or present, had ever viewed firsthand.” He wanted to capture those sights on canvas for all of us.

To me, this contribution is every bit as inspiring as the 31 hours and 31 minutes Bean spent on the lunar surface.

So, I’ve walked on the Moon, what’s next? It’s up to me and no one else.

And I am having the time of my life exploring that path right here on Earth.


Gale Barnum has spent 45 years as a Manager, Coach and a Leader for Landmark Worldwide. She has coached and led programs for 150,000+ people all over the world, empowering them to create and fulfill new breakthrough possibilities for their life and living. She retired from that career in July of 2019 and she is actively engaged in and pursuing "what's next".

Sign In To Your Account

Why Create An Account?

By joining the Love of Aging Movement and creating a free account you will have special access to “members only” content, Community Circles, webinars, and events every time you Sign In. This includes the ability to comment on blog posts, attend web events, Join a Community Circle,  opt-in for our newsletter, and participate in our photo and other contests.