Aging is such a frightening thing for many people. Rightly so if you do not prepare for it. This is the period when everything is breaking down, some more quickly than others. But it is usually the lost of health and loneliness that are the worst to bear. Save yourself with a new second life.
Worrying and being afraid will not take aging away. It is a natural process we have to go through. The best defense is in managing it to the best of our ability by preparing for it.
At the heights of our lives, there are more things that consume our time and energy aptly summed up by this typical “Wheel of Life” chart on the top left. (Click on the image to enlarge.)
This is very often used by life coaches to help coachees determine the areas of satisfaction and importance to set goals.
Ideally, we should keeps all these areas with some adjustments in our later life. However for most, as they age, a few of these areas will become less important and in some cases dropped off altogether. The “Wheel of Life” for the aged will probably look like the one below. Notice that the number of areas is reduced. Some may have even fewer areas but that would mean having a narrower perspective in life.
If we are not well prepared for that period, depression sets in easily with a host of other issues affecting not only our health but also our emotions and thereby our total well-being.
I was listening to the radio programme “In The Living Room” on “Stop Parenting, Start Coaching” in which my friend, Dolly Yeo, was the guest. An elderly widower in his 80s called to share his views. He believed that filial piety should be inculcated in children as part of good parenting. He was lamenting on the lack of attention from his adult children who are now parents of their own and are spending more time with their children than their father. Listening to him, I get the impression that he misses his children and the closeness he used to have with them. I do not believe it is so much of neglect nor that his children are not filial.
I do not disagree with his views but to have expectations can be very distressing when they are not met. Better to stay independent than to depend on others totally for our happiness and well-being.
Doubtlessly family relationships are important to us no matter our age. We are after all human beings and need the social connection. However, it is not healthy to be overly dependent on one single source to fulfill this need. Interestingly Dolly mentioned that he should get a life and I agree. Maybe it is the traditional social conditioning that prevented him from considering other options.
Assuming neither finance nor health is an issue, the gentleman could start making new friends and establish a new lifestyle with lots of social activities that are separate from his children. Or, seek a new purpose in life. Maybe be more involved in his grandchildren’s activities and development, find a new hobby, perhaps learn something and acquire a second career or get a new life partner. Burt Goldman, one of the inspirational leaders in his 80s, has a 50-something year old girlfriend! How is that for a second life?
Such woes are not uncommon and are shared by many old folks today. There is a very good reason behind all these. In the days of old when times are poor, parents were so focus on bringing bread to the table that they had no time to think of life after retirement. When the time comes, with no hobby nor close friend and feeling useless and neglected, they feel the options they have are very limited.
The good news is, it does not have to be this way. Learning to break free from this close-minded view can be very exciting and liberating. It is like throwing away some tatty old clothes and donning a brand new smart suit. It is never too late. There are always options. It is a matter of taking them up or not.
If you are nearing retirement age but have not make any plans, you should start thinking. What would I be doing when I retire that will energize me? Look at the “Wheel of Life” and visualize how your new life will be like in all those areas. Hey, it can be real fun. What is there to be afraid of?