In this article I will explain why having the right mindset is the most important secret for a long healthy life. I will also reveal 4 popular Myths about ageing, and why they are wrong.
Choosing to adopt the right mindset to live a long healthy life is, barring an unforeseen accident or infectious disease, the most critical determinant of whether you actually do have a long, happy, healthy and wealthy life, and live life to the full in your retirement years.
(n.b. The most common words used interchangeably with mindset are: state of mind, mentality, outlook, attitude & mental attitude).
Before we get into right mindset, some of you will probably be thinking “hang on, surely my health is the most important thing? After all without that I can’t do anything”. Yes of course that’s true, but if you don’t have the right mindset about what you want from your life in your mature years and the determination to make it happen, chances are you’re not going to do everything you need to do to achieve your desired outcomes.
What is the Right Mindset for Healthy Ageing?
I am not going to beat around the bush. In my opinion,the right mindset to live a long healthy life is:
to consciously choose to live a long, active and healthy life, to continue to contribute to society, to nurture your close personal and social relationships and to willingly share the knowledge and wisdom you possess with other people, both younger and older.
So I need to you to ask yourself the following questions, because if you answer “No” to any of them, you probably need to work on your mindset if you are going to design your perfect retirement:
1. Am I open to change?
2. Will I be willing to try new things?
3. Am I willing to take actions that take me outside my “comfort zone”?
4. Will I be prepared to invest time and money in my education?
5. Am I “coachable”? I.e. am I willing to heed advice and take the action required to make the changes I need to make to create my ideal retirement? I know I certainly needed to, and I have made big changes, but I believe I still have more to make, and I will make them.
Without change, progress is not possible; so I hope you are able to embrace that concept and join me, and many others just like you and I, on this life changing journey of transformation
The alternative is to join the ranks of those who just follow what society sees as the stereotype retiree; A person that has outlived their useful life who is of no economic value to society and a potential burden upon it; just marking time till they pass away. That may sound harsh, but it is a commonly held view amongst the Nations of the developed world.
It is important that I set the scene for a new age, of which you and I are already part, whether we know it or not.
I have assumed a potential average future life expectancy of 100 years as the basis for my programs. If you find that to be somewhat ambitious (ridiculous, strange, whatever), I recommend that if you have not already done so, you read that article before continuing.
But the fact is, this is now well within our reach as the “longevity revolution”, already happening in biotechnology and medical science, will result in a quantum leap in our lifespans, but even more important – in how long we will stay healthy.
What this would mean is that, assuming we retired at 60-65 and lived the projected average lifespan of 100 years, we would have 30 to 35 years of potentially active and productive life ahead of us. As this new age which I term our “Third life phase” is likely to eventuate in our lifetimes, finding something meaningful and fulfilling to do in those extra years has become even more important.
Why 4 Popular Myths about Ageing are Wrong.
In this new era “retiring” is not the end, it is actually a new beginning, and what you make of that new beginning is completely, 100% in your hands. I think that’s exciting, don’t you?
In my research I have discovered 4 myths that have contributed to the creation of society’s negative perception of older people, and I have addressed and responded to those myths, which I believe are either wrong or outdated, below:
Myth Number 1 “People of retirement age are too old to start a new career or learn new things”
Research studies have consistently confirmed that mature people are capable of learning as well as younger people, and in fact they have some distinct advantages; It is widely accepted that older people have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and wisdom developed over a lifetime of learning. They have also developed a higher level of patience and tolerance as they have matured; understanding that “getting to the top at all costs” does not ensure a fulfilling and happy life; in fact in many cases, the opposite is the case.
Most older men have learnt that “getting to the top” is not really success; that true success is having a stimulating and fulfilling job, with a balanced lifestyle where family, broader personal growth and pursuing the passions you probably left behind as you chased that dream are of equal importance. They have also learnt that compassion and helping the people they worked with to become the best that they could be, is much more fulfilling than using people as a means to your own end.
Some of the key observations from these research studies have been:
– If only we made the time for learning, we could pick up a new language as easily as kids do,
– A lack of time and self-esteem stand in the way of mature adults picking up new skills,
– we lose confidence in our ability to learn as we age, and
– New scientist said “children are more open and unembarrassed when learning something new.” I.e they are not self conscious about their lack of knowledge as they begin to study a new subject or skill.
In her paper “How do mature learners learn?” Anita Pincas (a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Lifelong Education and International Development [LEID] at the University of London Institute of Education.), made the statement “ ‘Mature learners’ is a rapidly growing educational sector being distinguished from “adult learners” of a lower age, and it is clear that as a learning group these older students are successful.”
She went on to say “As they live longer, and as they look towards the traditional retirement age, they may in fact be “up-skilling” themselves in order to continue working. On the other hand, many who have reached retirement may be taking the opportunity to prepare for a different kind of work, perhaps something they had always dreamed of doing. At the same time, many others are simply enjoying their newfound freedom to learn for the sake of learning, to meet new friends, and to remain generally active.”
Myth Number 2 “Retirement is the end of a man’s useful life”
As I said above; In this new era “retiring” is not the end, it is actually a new beginning, and what you make of that new beginning is completely in your hands.
The reason I say it is completely in your own hands is because, barring unforeseen accidents, contracting an infectious disease or having a very unfortunate catastrophic genetic inheritance, it will be your mindset that determines how long you will live, how healthy and mobile you will be and what you will do.
The most difficult issues you will face are:
– What you believe you are capable of doing, i.e. your limiting beliefs. How you think and behave habitually will determine your life path, and you are in control of that. For some of us this may not be an easy to change to make, after all “old habits die hard” but just being aware of it and determined to change to make the most of your later life means you are already 75% of the way there.
– The extent to which you choose to associate with and be influenced by the disbelievers and negative people that surround you; and rest assured they will be there-just look around you, you will know who they are.
A simple way to make this change is to consciously spend more time with people with a positive outlook; get a group of people together to help each other to achieve their goals, or join a more formal group, community or club that has a positive and uplifting agenda; either of these can work wonders for your mindset.
Myth Number 3 “Getting one or more of the diseases associated with aging is inevitable”
Living a healthy lifestyle, keeping a regular check on your critical health measures, nurturing your emotional health and social relationships and avoiding chronic stress can significantly reduce the risk of contracting age related diseases. I will have much, much more to say on all aspects of this in later posts.
Myth Number 4 “My family all died young, so that’s what will happen to me,”
We can minimise the risks associated with our genetic inheritance by taking the recommended health steps, monitoring our key measures regularly, leading a healthy lifestyle, and having the right mindset.
Unfortunately, although all of these myths are either wrong or outdated, they are still the basis of society’s predominant beliefs and attitudes about older people. What is even worse is that the majority of older people in developed countries also either believe or accept these myths and live their lives accordingly.
A key challenge I included as part of my mission is to change those long held and entrenched beliefs, and I will be asking you to help me to do this by having the right mindset and achieving some great things in your retirement lives. I will also, if you agree, feature them on my Design Your New Life website and use them as evidence in presenting an ongoing case to make changes in how Governments and most people in the developed Nations view older people. P.S In this context “great things” doesn’t mean changing the world. It just means doing things better than society’s stereotype older person and enjoying your life to the full as you mature.
In fact, if you already have a story you believe would be an inspiration to our fellow travellers, whether it is your own or someone you know, please send me a comment below and I will respond and work with you to create an article we can use to further our cause right now. Every inspirational story we publish will help someone to take the positive steps they need to take towards a better life.
So in conclusion, I guess I need to declare which camp I am in? Having reached the age of 68, I am still fit, healthy, active and enthusiastic. To be honest, I have not even considered retirement. Like many mature men I believe I still have much to offer and contribute: valuable skills and experience and heaps of energy and ideas, and I need a real purpose in my life to make it truly meaningful and enjoyable. So I am very much one of those who have “decided to consciously choose to live a long, active and healthy life, to continue to contribute to society and share the knowledge and wisdom I possess”, which is why I created this website.
My vision and mission for the rest of my life is to help you, and, I hope, millions of other men, to design the ideal life for yourselves and your families in your retirement years.
I have just released my new eBook “How to Design a Long, Healthy and Wealthy Retirement Life” which covers all the topics in the Design Your New Life 4 Part System including how to earn additional income in your retirement years. You can get your personal copy by clicking on the link below:
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