A series of recent events made me think about aging with intention. I’ve always enjoyed business and self-development books, but a recent book and a family birthday party gave me a different perspective on the word “intention”.
I was reading a book called “Get Sh*t Done” by Jeffrey Gitomer – an expert in sales. The book is about learning to focus to gain productivity. But early on in the book, the word “intention” would just keep jumping out at me. Through the book, I was learning I had great work habits, but by being more “intentional” in my plans, I could increase productivity.
Then, as if by chance, later that day, I went to a 90th birthday of my favorite great aunt. I haven’t seen her for about 20 years…not intentionally, but just family circles and such never really had us connect a lot.
I remembered her always being full of life, despite hardships. Her echoing laugh I could still hear. She was always willing to create some fun. After 20 years, she may have had more wrinkles and her hair a bit more silver, but she was the same. She had the same zest for life at 90.
That party started a conversation with my husband – who is lamenting his 50th birthday coming up. This was the first time my hubby had a chance to meet my great aunt. We got talking about all the hardships she had in her life. He learned that every hardship, my great aunt would get back up, dust off her pants, and put a smile on her face, and she kept going. My husband was commenting, why was he dreading 50 – when this lovely lady was embracing and celebrating 90 and showing no signs of stopping enjoying life.
What does Aging with Intention Look Like?That conversation got me starting thinking how we age intentionally? How can we change our mindset to focus on enjoying life vs dreading getting older! What can you do to age with intention?
I decided to try to start a list of what may help each of us live with intention…
· Embrace your age, don’t hide it, wear it like a badge of honor!
· No matter the hardship, find the silver lining!
· When we experience a challenging time, focus on overcoming it!
· Be intentional in planning for your future needs, don’t put your head in the sand!
· Create habits that will assist you to age well – good health, good exercise, good nutrition, and good sleep are all habits we can control.
· Laugh lots – at yourself, at others, create joy!
· Try something new, meet someone new, learn something new!
Imagine how differently aging could be if we all were more intentional, day by day, to embrace life and embrace aging?
I can tell you that my husband is now looking forward to turning 50 years old. He is working to create a list of 50 things he wants to do in his 50th year! He is going to embrace each birthday, instead of dreading it.
As for my great aunt, well, she continues to inspire everyone who meets her and continues to inspire me. I’ve always been asked what inspired me to work with older adults. I realized this weekend that she was always the coolest ‘old’ person I knew (because as a kid, someone in their 50s and 60s felt ancient). She was so full of life, she was my example of how aging well should look like. As I embarked on my nursing career, and saw most older adults did not act or feel like my great aunt, I felt like I could encourage older adults to change their aging experience. From my early memory of days spent at that Pigeon Lake Cabin, I never realized how much she influenced my career path and my vision of what active aging could look like. So thank you Aunt V – you are my vision of what aging gracefully can be, and I hope I can take a page from your book as I embark on my own aging journey!
Jolyn Asks: I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments – what else can all of us do, or what do you do – to keep aging with intention?