I saw a question this morning on Quora about the difference between old folks now and 70 years previously. This article sprang up full-blown, as so many seem to do.
First of all, what age is old? If you’re 20, 40 seems old. If you’re 50, 80 seems old. But if you’re 80, all those previous numbers sound young!
I’m 73, and I can’t figure out how I got here. Wasn’t I just 50 a few years ago? And except for a few sore muscles that show up when I walk more than my usual 3–4 miles per day, I don’t feel particularly old.
Those of us who too often get characterized as elderly or old are far healthier, physically and mentally, than previous generations. We grew up with medicines that gave us the chance for longer and healthier lifespans. We grew up able to find jobs we could do in our later years. We have access — many of us do, anyway — to far better preventive healthcare, which is huge.
And one enormous change has to be those of us who have gotten our second, third, or fourth wind at these ages, meaning we’re NOT. GOING. TO. RETIRE. EVER. We have found work we can do — work that is stimulating, work that keeps us on our proverbial toes, work that we actually look forward to — until we’re 100. (I’m aiming for 103, myself.)
These jobs, which are often entrepreneurial, tap into strengths, talents, and abilities we may not have been able to show or use in our earlier years. Working in companies often meant kowtowing to others, doing things the “corporate” way, or working because we had to. But as many of my Boomer generation have seen, it’s possible and desirable to reinvent ourselves in ways that play to our strengths, that keep us alive and relevant, and that make a huge difference in the quality of our lives.
We have friends locally, and we’re connected to even more friends worldwide, so our curiosity about their lives keeps us aware and awake. Although maybe we can’t or don’t want to travel too far, we can use Zoom or Skype to talk and see them, something we couldn’t have imagined 10 or 20 years ago.
We know more about the things that are really bad or good for us, and we make the conscious decision to be healthy and live life to the fullest.
Many of us have shed the old skins and masks we wore for so long that were composed of others’ expectations of us, of society’s rules for us – we found our true selves and we’re loving living as who we are!
I know I will never willingly retire, and why should I? As an editor / copyeditor, I am privileged to have work that I love and do from home, from a corner of my tiny 525 s.f. cottage on the bay in Massachusetts, and my mind and spirits stay wonderfully alive with every author I work with. I learn every day, seeing their world through their eyes, and it’s exhilarating. I even still work as a corporate trainer (I just returned from California!), and I have just begun leading LinkedIn workshops in local Chambers of Commerce. Who knows what I’ll think of next year or the one after?
What’s not to love? I rise each morning, look out at the bay, love my two small dogs, and see what new adventures the world has for me.
How are you living YOUR life? What plans do you have for your future self?