When Are You Planning to "Get Old"?
by Susan Dunn, M. A.
When are you planning to get old? According to a recent study, you'd better move the date back.
"Contrary to common belief, many people can live well into their 90s without becoming cognitively impaired, study findings indicate." - Neurology 2003; 60: 477-480
But statistics are statistics.
Let me give you some examples from my own coaching practice.
- I have a client who is 72 who's a real estate coach. One of his coaching clients just made her goal, doubling her income to $100,000 this year. She's a real estate agent and she plans to do it again next year with his help. Her age? She's 80.
- I have a client who says she's having the best sex of her life. Her age? She's 78. Her lover? He's 80.
- I have someone who designs websites for my marketing clients. She's the best web designer I've found. Her age? 58.
- I have another client who went from ground zero to fluent in German in the last 3 years. Her age? She's 59.
Most of my clients are over the age of 55 and they are all busy learning new things. The layperson best at the computer I know is 58 and learned it all in the past two years. She keyboards at 100 wpm.
And what's the secret to all this? Al Siebert, Ph.D., has studied resilient seniors for 30 years and has defined some of the characteristics. Among them are:
- Retain a childlike curiosity
- Keep learning
- If you have a victim mentality, replace it with something better that gets you what you want. (Try my Optimism course ( http://www.susandunn.cc/courses.htm ).
- Learn to tell your 'survivor' stories so they inspire others (don't whine)
- Find meaning in your adversity. If Victor Frankl did, you can.
- Stay connected. The single worst thing for your health, mental and physical, is isolation, and you can be isolated in a
room-full of people if you aren't connecting. Isolation is worse for your health than obesity, smoking or high blood pressure.
- Have a sense of humor, remain playful.
A lot of this has to do with your attitude and your emotional intelligence. Living long and well means going through lots of changes, and, alas, some adversity. We build resilience by going through hard times and one of the keys is staying flexible and learning.
According to Siebert, individuals who die in their 5th and 6th decade have this trajectory: study, then work, then leisure. Resilient seniors have combined all three throughout their lifetime.
Key to all this is learning optimism. Optimists live 19% longer, enjoy better health, are more likely to fulfill their potential, and
enjoy life more. Would you be willing to trade some of the ways you think now in order to gain those things just mentioned? If so, learn optimism .
When are you planning to "get old"? Apparently it's up to you, and you can get rid of any old stereotypes you've heard.
(c)Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, offers positive psychology coaching and Internet courses on emotional intelligence,
optimism and strengths. Visit her on the web at susandunn.cc and
firstname.lastname@example.org for FREE inspirational EZINE.