In this ongoing series, LIFE IN FULL, we are writing to Baby Boomers (those of us in our 50s, 60s, and 70s) about how to maximize our Longevity and our Legacy. Find new episodes here every Tuesday and Thursday, and read the overview and catch up on earlier articles in this series by clicking here.
We are in Australia as we write this latest article in the Life in Full Series, and it seems like an appropriate location to think about aging in a positive and proactive way. It’s summer here now, and the parks and streets and paths are filled with vigorous autumn-of-lifers running, exercising, and behaving like they think they can live forever. When you think about what a 65 year old was like 30 or 40 years ago and what many 65 year olds are like today, there is no comparison. As we said in an earlier article in this series, 65 is the new 45, and there are almost limitless possibilities.
If you are a member of the Baby Boomer generation, (those born between the mid 1940s and the mid 1960s) there are 7 decisions you can make that no previous generation had access to at our age.
As Baby Boomers, because of our longer life spans, we have more opportunity than any previous generation to make these 7 personal destiny-determining decisions. We can leave all seven to chance and circumstance; As a Boomer, you can get proactive about it. You can:
- Decide how long you want to live (because the number of years you want will likely be a factor in how many you have).
- Decide who want to spend those years with (because the people who matter most should get the most time).
- Decide how you want to look and how you want to feel (because you have more control over both than you think you do).
- Decide how much money you will need (because though it is not an end, it is a means).
- Decide what you want to keep and what you want to start (because that will determine what you discard and what you stop).
- Decide which God you believe in and which Self you will be (because both will influence each of the other 6 decisions).
- Decide what, and more importantly who your legacy will be (because with that choice will come purpose and joy).
You may say that it is impossible to make these decisions, and even if you could, you may say that it is a waste of time since we have no real control over any of them
We beg to differ…
Of course unexpected things happen, but thoughtfully and deliberately making these 7 decisions increases the chances that you will get the outcomes you want. You have more control of your life now than ever before and you can use what you have learned to make this part turn out like you want it.
Think of your life as a mountain, steep and rocky and hard to climb on the side where you started, but now, from the summit, gently sloping and gradual on the downward side. View the horizontal as the measure of how far your life will take you. You covered some distance on your way up that rugged front side during the first two thirds of your life, but the horizontal distance was nothing like the vast stretch now ahead of you on the long, gently sloping plateau that is your future. The way forward is smoother and easier and as fast as you want it to be. And the wind is at your back!
There are still obstacles ahead, and some will surprise us—a spouse with Alzheimer’s or a child who makes a major bad choice. But we are better equipped now to deal with difficulty, and for most of us, there is still time.
Thinking this way is wonderful and optimistic, but it is also hard work. It is proactive, mental work that involves planning and thinking ahead. But now is the time to do it. Earlier in life, many of our decisions were made out of necessity—choices were made for us by circumstances and limited opportunity.
We have all said “If only I knew then what I know now.” But now you DO know, and if you are like most Boomers, you still have a lot of time left. We have the rare and remarkable opportunity to freely make our own decisions and to determine how we want to live the rest of our lives; but we need to remember that deciding is hard work—hard and creative work.
And as we do this kind of thinking, it is more important than ever to put family first.
At the end of life, no one on his or her deathbed says “I wish I’d spent more time with the business”…or “with my golf game.” It is family where most feel they should have spent more effort, more time, more thought. During this golden time of life, we can work on our relationships, on our empty next parenting, on our grand parenting. And that is where we will find the most joy!
Tune in again on Thursday when we will talk about how it may be our generation who will save this world from some of the dangerous directions it is heading!