Here’ s guest post from my friend Laura Volk a woman who walks her own talk. You can hear the interview I did with her during the April 3, 2010 edition of Push the Reset Button, my Blogtalk Radio Show.
Somewhere in the evolution of self from child to senior citizen, people who lack passion for life have stopped investing in themselves. “Been there. Done that.” Thinking this way is a predictable pathway to a dull life with a diminishing sense of purpose and excitement.
To be able to continue to evolve and reinvent ourselves, we must make an actual investment in ourselves.
No one would argue that the way to financial success is to “pay yourself first.” This is living with a long view: you set aside savings first and live with whatever is left over. This requires establishing priorities and having the conviction to live accordingly.
When it comes to aging with vitality or to pushing the reset button on your life, the same principal applies: invest in yourself! If there is something you really want to do, do it first. If you don’t have time to do everything, do your priorities first. If you don’t have money for everything (and who does?), save and spend money on the key activities you want to do. What would that actually look like on a day to day basis?
For example, if exercise is a top priority, you adjust your life so that you have the money for the equipment or gym membership and you set aside regular time for it. This may mean that you have less money available for going out to dinner and that you can’t jump in to do that volunteer job until after you work out. If you have few extra funds you can still work out. You can walk several days a week. You can buy an exercise video at a garage sale and use it several times a week. There are endless ways you can exercise for free. But, you will still have to make a regular investment of your time and have the self discipline to set other things aside.
Self investment later in life is just as beneficial andm important as investing in children at the beginning of life. We would never consider denying young people an opportunity for learning and self exploration. We know that this is the key for healthy self development and meaningful participation in the world around us. So why is this need for investment and development any less true for humans in the second part of life than in the first? It could be argued that the need for continued self development is particularly crucial at the time when human beings finally have an opening in their lives, as the demands of career and family wane.
To come to this place, we must first see that the value of human life is just as divine at 40 and 50 and 60 and 70 and 80 as it is at 4, m5, 6, 7, and 8. Sound shocking? People just don’t say that. But, we are imbued with the same talents and interests we had earlier in life. And we have more time to develop them a bit later….that is, if we recognize this. There really are not many role models for 8o year old
mountain climbers. But we do have Grandma Moses who first started to paint in her late 70’s. Why do we overlook that important fact? Because it does not yet fit in with the way we perceive ourselves….as people who in late middle and old age who have interests and skills which are yet to be developed.
Did you love to paint, but never had the time? Invest in yourself by taking a class and setting aside regular time to paint. Or, if you can’t afford a class, buy some paints and get an instructional video from the library. Have you always wanted to see a particular region or country? Invest in yourself by studying the language and setting aside money and time to take that dream trip. Or, if you are completely strapped for money, barter with someone who knows the language. Have them teach you and share stories about the culture and life there.
You don’t have to be rich to invest in yourself. You just have to be determined to find a way to do what is of interest. You have to have the courage to try a few things. Sometimes we have worked so hard for so long, that we lose touch with who we are and what we enjoy. If this has happened, it takes a bit of courage to get started. And we may have to experiment with a few things to see what sticks and what doesn’t.
But, people who age with passion have a belief in their own self worth. They invest in themselves on an ongoing basis. They take the time after the midpoint of life to reassess the pulse of their own energy and interests. They consciously decide what activities and experiences to include in the newly emerging open space in their lives. Slowly but surely, like that growing bank account, they steadily invest in their dreams. It takes focus, time, money, energy and effort. You can’t do it all. But everyone can do something. Don’t make the mistake of doing nothing if you can only do little. Even something small will feel positive if you stick with it.
Laura Volk retired three years ago from her position as Human Resources Director for the Rochester City Schools. She spent two years journal writing, reading, thinking and preparing for this significant change in her life. She traded twelve hour work days for days which she says are 5’s on the scale of 1-5. In keeping with her philosophy of life self investment to explore the roads not taken earlier, she made a lot of changes. She got certified and became an aquatic fitness instructor and has been teaching 8 courses a week for the past three years. She began taking comedy writing and comedy improvisation classes and helped start a local improv group. She continues to perform and write and just completed a comedy review which she hopes to get staged locally. She went to Sedona, Arizona and took two levels of Reiki training there and has begun to be a serious practitioner. Best of all, four families within the extended family structure moved together within just a few miles of each other so that they could enjoy the children and provide intergenerational support. She sets aside all Fridays for her young grandchildren and is sharing so much of what she loves with them from on an ongoing basis and feels so fortunate to have them just around the corner.
Laura envisioned and created the lifestyle she wanted in retirement. Her retirement lifestyle matches what’s most important to her and the result is that she’s incredibly happy. You can have a lifestyle that best supports your dreams. Find out more by downloading a copy of my Blueprint for Midlife Without Crisis.