The Inevitable Change that is Life...
Since the last newsletter, I have received a lot of well wishes for the celebration of my 60th birthday. It has been touching to have such a warm response and acknowledgement of this milestone in my life- thank you!
Quite a number of people responded to the topic of life transitions and how they were finding it challenging. I wanted to elaborate more on this idea and its relevance in this newsletter. Essentially this process of ageing and transition is one that is inevitable in life and we can either move through it unconsciously or we can engage with it thoughtfully and be conscious. For me, this is what conscious ageing is and I’m trying to make sense of it as I now move into my next phase.
From my readings, there are four main areas that we need to consider to be able to transition and age in a conscious way. It will be of no surprise that these are the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of our well-being and I’ll address them below.
In terms of the mental aspect, it is imperative to stay active and involved at both a personal and professional level. This can be done through learning new things such as languages, developing new interests and hobbies or taking courses that interest you. Research into brain neuroplasticity demonstrates that we create new neural pathways in our brains when we utilise different aspects of the brain. For example, my wife and I recently took up social dancing and I find it stimulates and requires me to use a different part of my brain. I don’t find it easy but am maintaining the curiosity of being a ‘learner’ and hoping to not step on too many toes!
Inevitably, the physical side is usually the first sign of ageing. It can range from the inability to play sports as well as we use to or the recovery time it takes after a big night out. Nevertheless, it is important to be active as we age and at the same time be conscious of what the limitations might be as our body changes. A friend that used to run often would do at least 10km per session however as he grew older this became more challenging and rather than give up completely, he did less each session and also took up cycling and yoga which have a lower impact than running.
As we age, our emotional well-being can be one of the most challenging areas. We are faced with the loss of loved ones, grief, death and sometimes regrets. Family situations change with children moving out and having their own lives. The ‘empty nest’ syndrome can create its own challenges. We may have responsibilities for our ageing parents. Some may feel overwhelmed by loneliness and face difficult changes in terms of health and family breakdowns. It is important to find support and a place to discuss these feelings. This could be with trusted friends, family members or external counsellors. Being in a community helps maintain our sense of wellbeing.
The fourth aspect is the spiritual side of ageing. My sense of this is that the inner life becomes more important as we age. Not being morbid here but the topics of death and dying become more relevant. It dawns on us that we cannot take our possessions with us to the next phase wherever or whatever that may be. We may think more about our legacy and how we can contribute in a more generous way. How do we become elders, mentor, provide wisdom and guidance to others who are also on this journey of life? It’s a quest, is it not?
This month, I delve into ageing and making the transition to 60. Join me as I share some thoughts and reflections on life transitions, vulnerability, relationships and leadership.Click here to listen
Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder, Chip Conley
Wisdom at Work provides invaluable insights for professionals at any age. Chip Conley discusses his time working with Airbnb as both an advisor and intern and how he had to overcome the vast dichotomy that exists between "millennials" and "baby boomers". He argues that we need to bring back the idea of mentors in order to overcome some of the ageism that exists in the workplace. In order for younger generations to thrive while beginning their careers and older generations to continue thriving, both need to come together and recognise that they each have a lot to offer the other. His examples of older adults providing guidance to start-up companies in Silicon Valley offers profound insight into ageism in the workplace and how to get past it.
Part manifesto and part playbook, Wisdom at Work ignites an urgent conversation about ageism in the workplace, calling on us to treat age as we would any other type of diversity. In the process, Conley liberates the term "elder" from the stigma of "elderly," and inspires us to embrace wisdom as a path to growing whole, not old.