Thoughts and such like.....
Were you ever told as a child, you need to be more responsible?
Or 'Why can't you take responsibility for what happened?'
Responsibility comes with being an adult. - as we grow we take on more responsibility, in our work, for our families, for this task or that and sometimes we take responsibility for our health, sometimes, but not always, and it seems not often enough.
Last week I heard that for the first time in decades life expectancy in the US has stalled and more Americans are dying younger. According to a number of news reports men and women in the US now have the lowest life expectancy among the high income nations. In December 2017, Money Watch reported that previously women lived 8 - 10 years longer than men, today US women are also closing the gap and now their lifespan has narrowed to four to five years. And that takes us to responsibility!
We all rely on our healthcare system, where ever we live to help us when we fall ill, however, how many of us can depend on ourselves for our own self care - particularly when it comes to what we put into our mouths, and how we treat our bodies? The same Money Watch article called the US a 'plus-size' Nation. Self care is not an indulgence, rather it's an investment into our longevity, and a longevity that will allow us to enjoy life to the fullest. How can we care for well for others when we neglect ourselves? And what are we saying to others about how they can treat us, if we don't treat ourselves with respect?
I'm very thankful to live in a country that has a great healthcare system, however I think that it enables us to be somewhat complacent in our self-care. We should be responsible for some of the healthcare ills that beset us. I grow angry at those I see who have had a heart attack or cancer, and continue to smoke, or pay little attention to their health. I've never been one to purchase fast food, in fact my children say, the only time they were able to eat from a fast food diner as kids, was if the diner was raising money for the hospital in which I worked! I despair of people who fill their shopping carts with sugary, processed cardboard when we live in a place where there are so many fresh fruits and vegetables - I do get some funny looks as I smell the tomatoes, strawberries and other items but oh, they smell so wonderful; light, fragrant and so good!
Fifteen years ago I was diagnosed with chronic fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and a host of other unpronounceable diseases. I had a choice to accept the diagnosis and go with the future outlined by my physician, taking an immense amount of medication along with their side affects. And for a while I did. I mourned the me that was, the would be athlete, the person who could party late into the evening and bounce up again the next day... and then I changed... I thought why should I accept that I will not be able to do certain things, that I will have to live with pain.. and I began to read, understand and accept some of the limitations... I changed my diet, and continue to tweak it, I began to exercise again, and once in a while to accept some of the limitations. I took responsibility for my health, can't change it, but I did, and continue to do my homework, I'm constantly looking at how I can improve my health, not waiting for the physicians and their magic pills to sort me out, I'm not going out with tubes and pulling a machine, not me ... I'll be dancing and creating chaos!
I believe we should all be responsible for the health of our bodies and minds... have those chips, but eat those in front of you not two packets - forgo the burger and fries each week, try them, if you must, once every couple of months. Buy a new vegetable or fruit, google how to use it! Let your taste buds adventure.... Open your senses... eyes to view new foods; nose to smell new scents; ears and hands to the new sounds and feel of different foods and, most of all mouth to taste new flavours.... Go crazy, and buy something you have never heard of... and make a new dish, invite your friends over to try it!
In a chaotic world, where we often may feel despair and out of control, we can control, how we treat ourselves, our bodies, and in turn, our minds. I believe I am responsible for my health, not my doctor, not the healthcare system - they are part of the toolkit that I use if and when I need to, but I have other tools too... yoga, meditation, walking, family and friends who care about me, and most importantly my own curiosity and determination. It is my responsibility to ensure I have the help I need, but also to keep my body in the best place it can be at this moment in time. What about you - what have you done for health and yourself today?
It takes Courage to grow old! By courage, I don't mean going into our Third Act kicking and screaming, using everything in our power to remain young looking; pretending that we're still able to do that high ski jump, or go to nightclubs and dance the night away - three nights in a row. No what I mean is: courage to go into old age, a place we have witnessed our parents and maybe grandparents and their friends, wandering into; the image of someone old and fragile, maybe dementia, in our minds, and being able to face whatever comes with dignity and grace. To use our years of experience to help us navigate what is new territory, for us at least. It really does take courage, here we are in a time and place where there is no structure, and often, we're back in the land of being seen and often not heard.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, courage is the ability to do something that frightens one; Dictionary.com say it is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain without fear. For me as I look around me, I see people understanding that they will age, we can't change that, fearful of what the future will hold, but also not taking responsibility for their life, being able to enjoy their elder years without pain, worry and pills. I believe we can change how we age - not by fighting tooth and nail to remain young looking, rather looking inside ourselves and reviewing our habits honestly and asking - what do I need to change to age better? Do I wish to spend the last years of my physical life in pain, reliant on medications and machines, or am I willing to change my habits and maybe lifestyle to help me age more healthily and well?
Making changes takes courage! Particularly in our culture of more, saying yes to less chocolate, beer and other indulgences, saying yes to a different kind of workout, maybe even a different way of eating takes courage. When friends say 'you're worth it, you've worked hard all your life, let go!' It takes courage to say No, I want to live a long, healthy life, one that allows me to enjoy the benefits of being an elder, without the downsides that so many people have, sickness, pain and chronic disease, so many of which can be avoided with a good diet and daily exercise. It takes courage to admit that maybe we haven't treated our bodies, and minds as well as we might, and courage again to take responsibility for our own health, and make those changes to roll back some of the ills we have inflicted on our bodies.
To develop courage you have to start developing courage as you
do any other muscle. You have to start with small things and build it up.
Making changes can hurt, Ray Dalio in his book Principles, talks about going 'to the pain, rather than avoiding it... Every time you confront something painful, you are at a potentially important juncture'. (www.amazon.ca/Principles-Life-Work-Ray-Dalio/dp/1501124021/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526941908&sr=8-1&keywords=ray+dalio+principles). Changing the way we grow and live may be painful, but the consequences can be major - have you the courage to look honestly at how you live, and make changes to move into a place that encourages and allows you to experience this Third Act of life in optimal health?
Remember only you are in charge of how you live this life, you who has the courage to change those habits that do not serve you, whether in the second or third act, and you to know that there is plenty of life left in you to live!
If you need support in this change, contact me today, for a free discovery session: email@example.com
There's a song by SuperTramp that I used to love, and forgot about until a conversation over the weekend with my youngest son:
When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical
And all the birds in the trees, well they'd be singing so happily
Oh joyfully, playfully watching me
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible
Logical, oh responsible, practical
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable
Oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical
(Lyrics by Roger Hodson)
Nik was pondering over his career choice/dream, and my career advice years ago, 'do what fuels your passion!' He was tired and sore and is struggling with 'is it worth it?' I truly believe that the saying that if you can marry your passion with your skillset then you don't work for an income - income flows to you. However when you're living hand to mouth as you try and make a name for yourself, that advice might be a little hard to take.
When making decisions about what next, I believe the same rule can apply whether you are 20 or 60. Barbara Sher in her 1994 book 'I could Do Anything if I only knew what it was' says try asking the question: 'What did I like to do at 5, 10, 15 et cetera? What do you like to do now. Throughout that list is the thread that connects you to your passion - go through it, let it sit, and then review it again. Ask too 'What do I hate to do?' Think about how you can cut those things out of your life, to allow you more time to do the things you love. (www.amazon.ca/Could-Anything-Only-Knew-What/dp/0440505003/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526411276&sr=8-1&keywords=Barbara+sher)
There are many other such exercises, if the one above doesn't resonate with you, try something else - don't give up, because it's too hard. Yes, you can learn anything if you put your mind to it, and you can have a career in a job/sector you hate, learn to love the financial reward that comes from it, but inside how is your soul? Does it feel like it shrivels up a little each year? What if you don't know what you want to do, and so just follow what your parents and teachers have advised, well they've lived well and seem okay with it - have you ever asked them, 'If you had followed your dream when you were young, would you be doing what you do now?' I think many of us might be surprised at the answers we receive.
So many people have moved forward, not really thinking about what it is they really want, and then they become surprised because Change Happens! People, myself included, are funny. We wish for change, if only, and then, because change is inevitable, when it happens we're caught off guard. We're surprised, don't know what to do.... whether it's forced retirement, being laid off a job you've had for years... an unexpected move.. an inheritance.. we're paralyzed. What we fail to realize is that life is actually handing us a gift? If you don't have enough to live on - okay that's a problem, and so while you work through what you really want, think about taking a mac-job. That is a job that pays the bills, doesn't take too much brain power, and yes, it may be a let down from 'who you used to be', but what's the worse that could happen? You're embarrassed - why? You're doing something, and moving forward, your job pays your bills, and at the same time you're figuring out what next - what really moves you? How can I make it happen, who do I know that I can call for advice, to mentor me to bounce ideas off. What do I need to do/learn to make it a reality? Often we're terrified to move forward because of fear - fear of the unknown, fear of rejection or just fear (what/why we don't understand). Fear can be a powerful force in our lives, we stay in the same place because it's easier than moving forward.
When I decided to up my education I was in my late 40's, I was terrified, I still carried the voices of teachers in high school in my head, those who told me I wasn't smart enough, couldn't make it - but, it was something I wanted, not just for myself but for my kids, they needed to see that their mum was walking her talk. What was the worst that could happen, I failed an exam! Big deal! This was a big change, and like all change, whether we instigate it or it happens to us, there was conflict - it's a fascinating thing, we can make change happen, or allow it to happen to us... Me, I was taking control and even in though I made the decision, my choice, I was conflicted internally - fear, worry at the cost, worry just because... it was terrifying! Quite a number of years later, I'm so happy I made that decision and faced down the fear that had been with me for years and had driven me, at a cost to me, to constantly prove myself to people who had no idea of my history and certainly, outside my mind, did not think of me in the same terms as those teachers long ago. Now I think about it, what ego I had to think that they spent their time thinking of me! From that one decision, I've been able to change career, and develop my own business and, despite the ups and downs of any new business, I'm happier than I had been in my previous career - I get to chose who I work with, my values are what carries my business and new career, and I am constantly learning from, and meeting new people who add value to my life.
So, I challenge you, take a chance - look into the future. What do you see yourself doing in five or ten years? Where are you? How do you feel? Did you take that risk, or even make a calculated risk knowing that you could always turn back if it didn't work out? Imagine the future you writing to the present you right now - allow your imagination to let go, create a future you participating in all those things you've dreamed of doing. What would your future self say? What steps did the future you take to get where they are, and what is the message they are sending to you, right now? Then sit down, either independently, with your partner or with a coach, and if this is truly where you want to be, create a plan to get you from where you are now to where you want to be. What are the steps you need to take?
If you need help and/or support contact me for a free discovery session. Remember, you are in charge of how you live this life, whether in your second or third act, there is plenty of life left in you to live. Only you stand in your way!
The Third Act allows individuals time and space to reflect on what their ideal third act will be. The four pillars discussed in earlier posts, mental, physical, spiritual and financial health come together to give a holistic 360 overview of where you have come from and where you want to go in the next 25 - 30 years.
In our second Act, we planned and developed a vision for what we wanted our future to look like, we were aided in this process by family and teachers who directed and supported our journey. In our Third Act the process is much more internal, rather than being shaped by others, our Third Act is shaped by us, through internal work and discovery. What are the relationships and activities that are meaningful for us as we move out of the workforce and into a different life? And, what are the personal practices and habits we want to embrace or enhance, how will we incorporate them into this new life? As the Economist points out so well in this article, 'ageing is a graduation process which people experience in different ways. While some may feel old at 65, nowadays most do not'. (https://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2017/07/economist-explains-7?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ed).
The Economist continues to state that governments and organizations around the World 'still treat 65 as a cliff's edge beyond which people can be regarded as "old"; inactive, and an economic burden'. Yet, there are very few people I know who one would regard as 'useless', at 65 or even 75. The argument for extending work to 70+ is growing, and yet some individuals do not want to continue in a job they don't like beyond the accepted retirement age. What we are seeing is that these individuals chose to leave their employment of many years and channel their energy into their own business. Inc.com reports that 'people over 50 are the country's most active entrepreneurs'.
Many argue that a gradual transition from full time work to non-work is most helpful and healthier for individuals and that companies need to consider how they can allow their staff to tailor 'retirement' plans to individual needs. This type of graduation makes sense for both individuals and for the companies they leave - the loss of corporate intelligence when people leave is a challenge that many companies face, a challenge that may only grow as this growing group of baby boomers leave the workplace. An opportunity is there for mentorship and training programs run by transitioning leaders to pass on their corporate knowledge to new leaders coming into the workplace. Companies could also find that they can hold onto key employees longer by developing a new type of corporate benefit in supporting transition coaching alongside mentorship and special project management.
Interestingly studies are showing that full time retirement can be bad for your health! In the UK, the Institute of Economic Affairs found that retirement increases the chance of suffering clinical depression by around 40%, and of having at least one diagnosed physical illness by 60 percent.
What the Third Act program advocates is planning for this next phase of life prior to leaving full time employment. The program creates transitional structures to support people as they move from one act to the other. It begins with looking at where each of us are in our transition journey and what we need to do to move forward. The second phase of the program provides space for participants to tell their story of where they came from. How did the nature and nurture form who they are? (nature being what you were born with, nurture being what you were born into). And how does that continue to influence decisions made today.
Phase three engages participants in the right hemisphere world of creativity and imagination, meeting their future selves, five years out. Where are they now? What are they doing? What steps did they take to get there? What message do they have for their current self? And, finally in phase four, participants translate their experience into the left-hemisphere world of planning and organization by creating a structural tension between where they are now and where they want to be. This provides the energy to activate the practical steps they need to take in order to move forward.
“The third age is not worth living if you are not acting in it” Charles Handy
Third Act planning gives us the opportunity to live a 'Third Act, rather than just a third age'. If you wish to learn more about the Third Act program in North America contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org and in Europe Edward@thethirdact.ie
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog