There’s a wonderful parable about a couple looking to move to another community.
They are walking down a country road and come upon a wise sage sitting at the gates of a village. The couple tells the sage they are looking to move and wonder if this might be a friendly village. The sage asks them about their previous village; they confide that it wasn’t a very friendly place to live. He tells them they will likely find this village isn’t very friendly either.
A different couple arrives at the gates of the same village; they ask the wise sage the same question. The sage questions them about their experience in their previous village. This couple exclaims joyfully that their village was loving and friendly. The sage suggests they will likely find this village just as loving and friendly.
As Confucius said, No matter where you go, there you are.
It’s the same with any life transition.
We bring who we are to every life phase. The who is typically quite established and crystallized by the time we approach our later years. It is how we express the who that will likely need to change and evolve through progressive life transitions. The how may require some pretty flexible problem-solving.
It has been suggested that the quality of our life is determined by the quality of the questions we ask. For instance, instead of asking ourselves what we want to do when we retire, a more productive question might be to ask how the expression of what we love to do is likely to evolve over the next 30 years . . . or so.
That requires some reflection and personal awareness. We first have to figure out just what we love about our life—especially our working life right now. Perhaps it is a sense of
- opportunity to create something,
- satisfaction of accomplishment,
- achieving impact,
- enjoyment of public or peer recognition,
- intensity of episodic crisis management, or
- predictability of structure.
Perhaps it is
- life-long learning,
- pushing our physical limits,
- our sense of connection to interpersonal engagements and relationships,
- being part of a bigger vision,
- the ability to work on our own, or
- the changing scenery of business travel.
We need to identify the most important and significant elements, then explore how we can incorporate their essence into our future plans. The outside expression might be different, but the inner experience could be the same.
Once we have a better understanding of what feeds our soul, we must consider how our experience of those aspects might be threatened by changes in our environments, our finances, as well as potential physical or cognitive challenges.
What can we do now to help preserve or re-create our environments, establish and secure our finances, and maintain our physical and cognitive status? If those things are already compromised, how do we get our needs met in other ways?
Those are big questions. They deserve our time and commitment with a serving of courage and curiosity. The quality of our exploration allows us to be the architects of the village of our lives, inspired by the who, and informed by the what, and expressed by the how. We may retire from our paid work, but we never retire from our life’s work.
Rhonda Latreille, MBA, CPCA
Founder & CEO
Hair and Heart — Who Knew?
Could the amount of grey hair you have to indicate your risk for heart disease? An observational study presented at the 2017 European Conference of Cardiology suggests that there just might be a correlation. The study found that patients with coronary heart disease were more likely to have a higher percentage of grey/white hair than their healthy counterparts. The researchers suggest that the factors that increase the risk for heart disease are also the same factors that can cause your hair to grey. Damaged DNA that comes with aging, increased oxidative stress, and the aging of cells is related to both conditions. Although more research is needed to confirm the study, they caution that individuals with a high percentage of grey or white hair should also be checked for coronary heart disease as a preventative measure.
“No age of life is inglorious. Youth has its merits, but living to a ripe old age is the true statement of value. Aging is the road that we take to discern our character. Fame and fortune can elude us, but character is immortal. We must encounter a sufficient variety of experiences including both failures and accomplishments in order to gain nobility of character.”
Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls
Happy New Year from All of Us at Age-Friendly Business!