Richard Leider, co-author of the new book, Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Old? highlights four things that many seniors feel are missing in older age. Those four things, along with numerous other gems of wisdom, are included in this book that was sent to me to review. And while I don’t know about you, with my 66th birthday happening later this month I grow increasing interested in such topics. Plus, as a person who has suffered from FOMO (fear-of-missing-out) much of her life, I don’t want to be one of those used as an example with such regrets. In fact, not only do I not want to miss anything that will keep me from experiencing what the authors call “the good life”, I look forward to becoming all I can become as I grow older.
A major theme in this book comes from its subtitle, The Path Of Purposeful Aging. Both Leider and his co-author David Shapiro have written a number of books on what it means to age well and much of that process includes finding and living on purpose. This book is no exception, although I was pleasantly surprised to read a number of insights that are new. Right up front the authors assert that getting older is really not about “what you do” with yourself as you age, but rather who you become. After all, we can’t ignore the fact that every single one of us is getting older every day. The authors point out that most people when they retire or get older focus on the “what” they are going to do with all their time rather than the “who” they can now be. And yet, Leider and Shapiro suggest that the path of becoming older is less about “outward accomplishment” and more about “inward growth.”
Why? The three main reasons they believe are necessary to live purposely are:
- “…it is energizing and life-affirming; it provides us with a why to get up in the morning.”
- “..it makes us more resilient as we face the inevitable adversities of aging.”
- “…it enables us to grow whole as we grow older.”
Actually, when you think about it, most of us are very familiar with saying we or someone else is growing older. But how many times do we actually believe we (or they) are still growing? The authors of this book point out repeatedly that there is a big difference between getting older and growing older. Of course, although our brains have the ability to grow throughout our lives, each individual has the choice about whether we/they are willing to keep it growing. Purposeful aging asks us to know the difference. Ultimately the authors say, “The time has come to change the story from a default anti-aging mindset to an intentional pro-aging mindset.” They even go so far to say, “It’s time to retire retirement as we know it.”
Yikes! I can see the loud objections from a lot of you who love your retirement. That kind of brings me back to the title of this article. Even though you love your retirement do you ever feel like something is missing? The authors identified four things that some people feel is missing as they get older—retired or not. According to the authors, these four factors can contribute or detract from a person experiencing “the good life.” If they are missing, then regret, dissatisfaction or what Leider and Shapiro call a “late-life crisis” can show up. However, keep in mind it isn’t just hearing about and accepting these four. Instead it is the examination and the conscious choices a person gives to each of these that lead to fulfillment.
- Where a person lives.
- Who do you spend your time with?
- Life work or expression. How do you spend your time all day, every day?
- Why do you do what you do.
Not quite what you expected? Me either. I think most of us are used to more pithy statements that make us say, “Oh wow, I never thought of that!” Instead the authors are convinced that being able to pause and reflect on these four important factors with deep consideration and choice makes the difference between a “default” existence and one created by your design.
Let’s look at them a bit closer. With numerous references to a designed life rather than one of default, where you live is either somewhere you consciously choose to be or, just somewhere you ended up. Your happiness and contentment has a lot to do with whether you take ownership of that choice or spend your entire life wondering how you ended up there and what it would be like if you lived where you always dreamed of living.
The same happens with the people in your life. Do you choose to be around them or are they all there because you didn’t have a choice? The thing is, you do. We all do. We decide who and when and how people will be in our lives and why there are there. Unfortunately, we often forget that we are making that choice every single day. While we all have plenty of reasons (excuses) to explain why we often end up with the people in our lives, let’s never forget we have a choice. It might not be comfortable or easy, but we have the choice.
It’s the same with our work. Obviously most of the people that the authors are talking about are older and most don’t work. But Lieder and Shapiro still believe that the details of your day is your work. How you spend it, who you spend it with, your intentions (or lack thereof) are either by design or by default. If you don’t realize the amount of choice you have over your days, then you will likely feel that something is missing or is ultimately dissatisfying to you.
And finally, your purpose is the conscious intention behind why you do what you do. Is it to check things off of a bucket list? Entertain yourself to get through the day without being bored? Is it just the lot you’ve been handed? Is it to take more than you give—because gall-darn-it—you deserve it? Again, what you think and believe about your purpose will indicate whether you will spend the remainder of your life feeling purposely satisfied or not.
While this book isn’t rocket science, it is a dive into asking yourself (and those you love) some really important questions about who you hope to be as you grow older. They don’t give many answers although the purpose “growing and giving” is repeated many times. They encourage us all to be more than just people seeking default comfort as we age and remind us all that we still have a lot to give others and the world as we grow older. If you too, are interested in becoming the best you that you can be as the days go by, it would be SMART to pick up a copy once it is released.
If interested, you can preorder the book for its release on Amazon by clicking on this link.