As you age, how do you see your retirement years playing out? As a time to settle for what you got and feeling a bit disappointed? Or do you want a more vigorous lifestyle that allows you to continue to stretch and grow?
If you say, “Oh, yes, the second one,”
then it’s possible to recreate your life and set out to reach goals you’ve only
allowed your heart to feel. You’re exactly like me in that regard.
I continue to expand my vision of
what’s possible, and I don’t intend to stop any time soon.
However, with age, I’m more patient
and have learned to allow time to play its magic on life.
About 12 years ago, after my
caregiving days, I set in motion a strategy to create a lifestyle that would
keep me safe, healthy, independent, financially sound, mobile, fit, and
Today, I’m living it.
While it took me 10 years to create it, my message to you
is this: “having a life of contentment, independence, hope, and vitality is
possible.” What’s required is a plan and consciously working and acting on it.
And remember, it deserves patience.
Future thinking, what I practice today,
doesn’t predict the future. I use this method to find “what’s possible” in a
situation or concern, to look for the unexpected consequences that can cause my
plans to run amok, and then lay out various options of possible choices.
The best part of future thinking is
that it prepares me for the inevitable changes that life throws my way.
If you plan for the issues that could happen, instead of thinking what will happen, you gain new perspectives
and context for present-day decisions. It also helps you to deal with the
dilemma that the future can’t be predicted.
Plus, it gives you the opportunity to
create “what if” scenarios – various options, allowing you to turn and pivot
when life throws you a curveball.
As we grow older, we have to make
choices based on what is to come –
the premise I based my future life on. Thankfully, family caregiving showed me the
inevitable and from that perspective I am better equipped to plan ahead.
For example, when thinking through my
housing concerns, I had to consider downsizing, moving from a two-story
dwelling in the suburbs, car dependency, isolation, and fretting about the
I could not predict my future to know
whether two stories would affect my well-being later on. However, the chances
of slipping or falling when carrying a basket of dirty clothes upstairs
(location of washer/dryer) put me at a higher risk.
It’s impossible to predict whether I
would fall – but having a two-story home would certainly grow into a bigger
issue down the road.
And that is what “future thinking” is
all about… finding the potential,
unexpected consequences of present-day issues related to growing older.
Here’s an example of unexpected
consequences you may recall: The one-child-per-couple
policy in China. In late 2015, the government announced that it was relaxing
the policy, after 35 years of enforcing it.
Officials are now encouraging
childbirth because they worry the fertility rate has sunk well below 2.1, the level
required to keep the population stable in the long term. They fear a shrinking
population will hamper economic growth.
As for other parts of
the world, you can also see how the unexpected consequences of having less
children have affected the shrinking numbers of family caregivers.
On the flip side of
consequences, the 1- or 2-child family decisions have led to the creation of new
technologies like Join Papa, check-in apps that connect daughters/sons to
parents, online personal caregivers, robotics as caregivers, and more.
So, not all unexpected
consequences give negative effects – as long as we prepare to turn and pivot.
Consider the Future to Live Well Today
Thinking about the future is
fundamentally important to dealing with the challenges of today. In order to
confront these problems successfully, we have to think carefully about the
action steps to take, not just in the immediate moment, but as conditions
As we’ve seen time and again, it’s all
too easy for actions that seem reflexively correct to lead to far greater
crises down the road.
My “Plan Future Me” digital course will launch in the next month. It’s designed to follow the strategy I used to get me where I am today. For a sneak preview, you can download the free future plan cheat sheet to help you get started and to stay tuned for the course launch dates.
Which type of aging do you think would suit you best? On what observations do you base your opinion? How do you plan your future? Please share with our community.