There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumping, says Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse talking about the regrets of the dying over the last 12 weeks of their lives. The majority regretted not having had the courage to live a life true to themselves, rather than doing what others expected of them. For men, it was wishing that they hadn’t worked so hard; missing out on spending more time with their children or partners.
For those of us who are now in our 50’s and 60’s, our future is finite —we may only have 20-30 or more years left. Do you keep going as is? Or do want to explore a different future so that your last 12 weeks are ones you won’t regret? Planning a different future requires some decisions to be made.
Decisions are not easy
Deciding to change your life is not an easy undertaking. Any change effort requires not only deciding on some clear, achievable goals but also the willingness to persevere through ups and downs to achieve them. Trying to implement a change in direction while you are busy with your current work and responsibilities may be challenging and you may find a lack of support or encouragement.
First steps – mindfulness
The first place to start before making any decisions about any changes you might want to make is to recognise what is going on in your life right now start. One way is through mindfulness. All that means is becoming aware of what is going on in your life now—where you are spending time and energy. Being able to recognise the things you like and don’t like. Gaining a perspective on your life and what may need to change. You may find that something like meditation or a spiritual practice helps, maybe joining a yoga group.
One way to change direction is to consider a range of possible futures.
A probable future is to continues as you are. Life may throw up a few new twists or lucky breaks and hopefully no nasty surprises. It’s safe and where most of us are comfortable. It’s also why most new year resolutions fail. Sometimes our habits are just too hard to change.
The planning for this starts with knowing that you are disatisfied with your current situation; that you want to do something different with your life. Planning for a future that you won’t regret having tried, no matter your age.
Where to start, when, how, what to do
Start with something easy, and be kind to yourself.
If you’re not sure where to start, pretend that you are giving advice to a good friend in the same situation. Is it the same advice you would give yourself?
Then ask yourself, what would it look like if I did this? This helps firm up your ultimate goal.
Let’s start simple.
Most new year resolutions are about losing weight and exercise with both leading to better longer-term health benefits. When you hear that Over 100 million Americans are now diabetic or prediabetic it’s a warning you might not want to ignore.
Getting fit or losing weight
Regular fitness activities have a range of health benefits that will make your future life better. Most of us think that means the gym and sweaty exercises.
But it might be as simple as moving more every day—just for a total of 30 minutes.
Parking the car further away from the supermarket and walking, or taking the stairs rather than the lift.
Losing weight is more problematic as you have probably realised by now that dieting doesn’t work. Those of us who’ve tried, possibly many times before, know that we can actually put on more weight after we stop. Doing lots of exercise doesn’t seem to help either.
You may want to check out Ivor Cummins’ book Eat Rich, Live Long, on low-carb eating or Nina Teicholz’ The Big Fat Surprise below. The books are not about dieting, but eating well, staying lean and healthy, while enjoying the food.
Change is a process
Any long-term change takes time, often longer than you think.
Read more, turn off the phone or TV.
Map out some simple, easy steps you can take. The clearer, the better.
Make some decisions and see what happens.
Be patient, but disciplined and persistent.
Seek out, supportive people. Some fans who can cheer you on and encourage you.
Ditch the negative ones.
It’s not too late to do something, no matter what your age. This has not been easy for me to write as I have made so many of my own mistakes. After all, how can I possibly imagine what it is like to be in your shoes? Our culture appears to be one where we feel we have to be an ‘optimized version’ of ourselves. That to me places too many expectations on us, to be perfect, to look youthful, be mindful, always be mentally alert. Especially as we age. It’s way easier to just let things happen. Except when you get to 80 or 90 and look back with regret that you didn’t give it a go.
Don’t let that happen to you.
Please feel free to add your comments or suggested readings or podcasts below.
Barking up the wrong tree by Eric Barker
Designing your life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
Eat Rich live long by Ivor Cummins and Jeffry Gerber, MD
Grit by Angela Duckworth
Mindset by Dr Carol S Dweck
How to change things by Chip and Dan Heath
The life-changing magic of tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo
Mindfulness by Ellen J Langer
The Big Fat Surprise Nina Teicholz
Ivor Cummins http://www.thefatemperor.com/
Nina Teicholz https://ninateicholz.com/
The school of life https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7IcJI8PUf5Z3zKxnZvTBog
A selection of useful videos: https://www.youtube.com/wisepreneursaustralia
On Being by Krista Tippet
Waking Up by Sam Harris
Women at Work – HBR
Tim Ferris is THE optimized- self-guru and many of his podcasts are very good. This interview with Dr Gabor Mate is one I think you may find out a little more about your inner-self. While the topic is about addiction, it is not just about drugs, it is about us.
Headspace for meditation
Habitify – for mapping habits
Runkeeper – for tracking your walking etc
Business know-how and shifting to self employment
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