PERSPECTIVES: AGE – MOSTLY A NUMBER?

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“You are not old until regrets take the place of dreams” – Adapted from John Barrymore

 

We all get old – or die on the way getting there.

Age incorporates not only the chronology of your years, but also your wellbeing, including your mindset. Facelifts and body tucks may help external wrinkles, but as long as they are not written on your heart and mind, you are not old.

What is important is your “Ikigai” – the Japanese word that translates freely into meaning “the reason for which I wake up in the morning; my reason for being”.

Respect Time – which is of the essence and eventually becomes the variable centerpiece but constant reminder of life.

 

Physical

Linguistically we age people from birth: “How old is the baby?” I know “How young is the baby?” sounds strange – until we get used to it.

The physical evidence of age is more visible in some than in others and for multiple reasons. Stay young by way of physical workouts – but also mental engagement and intellectual stimulation. People still run marathons and write books into his late eighties. Vintage 65+ers cover all spectrums of society, from artists to inventors, queens to philosophers, nurses to writers and more.

I have lived in countries where the recording of births ranges from being problematic to almost impossible – due to ignorance, fear and corruption. Makes me think, the simple question to ask oneself is “If I were born in such a country, how ‘old’ would I be if I did not know my birth date and real age?

 

Social

Socially sensitive cultures envy, admire, even revere their aged. However, in most Western countries insensitive speeches by self-serving politicians often make Seniors feel they are a burden on the very same society which they helped build.

Ageism – through enforced retirement by certain age – falls in the same category as racism and sexism, and is equally offensive. Forcing a fit cadre of the workforce to retire is inexcusable and often dehumanizing. It drives many to despair – even though they may still have productive years left in which to contribute to their own and society’s welfare. It strains social security systems, severs them from social circles and friends and often sends them into oblivion – regardless of their knowledge and talents.

As counterpoint though – you should take responsibility to start building your “exit strategy” from the very first month of employment in terms of financial independence, weatherproof relationships with your partner and friends, long term personal health and wellbeing, creatively building your identity and a self-realization based on your vision and mission, your purpose and passions – not forgetting to develop hobbies and relaxation – and ultimately your legacy. Old age has no predetermined upper boundary – you could live to be a 100 or more. So, get moving!

 

Mental

Some reach mental maturity earlier than others – allowing them to think, act and speak within the bounds of respect and dignity. Others are slower to mature and may even stagnate at a point in life.

Counter this by becoming a life-long learner. We are a constant work-in-progress. Nothing happens automatically – except ageing. Everything else needs our participation. We cannot manage time. But we can manage what we do during the March of Time.

Take life seriously but not yourself. Live it and forget your age. The number of years do not make you old. People grow old because they forget their ideals and purpose – thus losing their enthusiasm for Life.

 

Emotional

To age is a privilege – not a sin, or anti-social. Character is what counts. Guard against your Inner Child growing old – even in the face of an uncertain world – and belong to yourself.

 

Intellectual

As we age, life shines with greater clarity. Knowing and understanding things become easier. Life’s puzzles are resolved with less effort. Reaching judgmental decisions seem to become easier.

Having said this, it is important that we also listen to the Young-at-Years amongst us. The “world is getting smarter earlier” and with it we see the younger generation putting remarkable stakes in the ground at increasingly younger ages – especially in the technical domain.

 

Spiritual

Ageing is as much a spiritual journey as a physical one – with challenges taking on different hues. Existing disabilities are added to – and must often be negotiated on a mental and physical front – sometimes with a looming fear of losing control over one’s life.

The aged turn more introspective – often resulting in contentment and peace or sorrow and despair – with the final outcome being one of wisdom.

Balance longevity with a meaningfulness in and of life – with peace and hope. Anchored spirituality becomes one of the cornerstones on which to build yourikigai.

  • So, is age mostly a number?

Well, your body and mind sometimes let you know the number. But punctuate Life with Spirit, Wit, Humor and Maturity.

 

Key Principles

  • How ‘old’ would you be if you didn’t know your birthdate and real age?
  • Ageism is another –ism, and is as offensive as racism and sexism.
  • Some reach mental maturity earlier, whilst others are slower, even stagnate.
  • To age is a privilege – not a sin. Character is what counts.
  • As we age, knowing and understanding things become easier.
  • Ageing is as much a spiritual journey as a physical one – with challenges taking on different hues.

 

Action Steps

  • Stay young by way of physical workouts – but also mental engagement and intellectual stimulation.
  • Take responsibility to start building your “exit strategy” from your very first month of employment.
  • Become a life-long learner. We are a work-in-progress. Live your life and forget your age.
  • Guard against your Inner Child growing old – and belong to yourself.
  • Remain young at heart and spirit. And listen and learn from both the mature and the young.
  • Balance longevity with meaningfulness. Let Spirit, Wit, Humor and Maturity punctuate your Life.

 

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PERSPECTIVES: PROCRASTINATION – Thief and Assassin

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“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.” – Spanish Proverb

 

No one can manage Time. It is a fallacy. You can only manage yourself and your activities in relation to Time.

We all have the same number of hours in a week – 168. No more no less. Unless we depart from here early. Time eventually becomes the central theme for all concerned. Spend it wisely on that which creates and leaves behind your legacy.

Be aware of procrastination, the biggest Thief of Life – frittering away your most valuable non-renewable and ever-dwindling cornerstone – Time. People are often said to regret what they have not done, rather than what they have done. And this is equally true of Popes and Princes, Paupers and Poets alike. Strive to have no regrets. Manage and live your Life productively – else it will evaporate into unfulfilled retirement.

 

Physical

I hate morning walks. Especially wet wintery ones. It is a procrastination that I would gladly outsource. Thoughts of the day tumble through my sleep-soaked brain as I step out and begin. And 40 minutes later I have renewed acquaintances with every dog and bird on my walk, I mentally edited last night’s draft blog and gave the protagonist in my novel more character.

I love my procrastinating morning walks. Yes procrastination time can become productive time – if spent productively. It works for me. Let is work for you!

But take note, it can easily also become one of the most common and deadliest of characters – The Assassin of your Opportunities, physically, mentally and spiritually – if left unchecked. Remember – half the battle is won when you “just step out and begin”.

 

Social

Unwrap today by unwrapping this moment – then live in it. The other side of the coin – be careful not to leave planning for the future till the future comes around, because that will not be the moment you would enjoy living in. Live in the moment but plan for tomorrow. Don’t neglect either one.

Do something positive every day, something that underscores your reason for being. Encourage a grandchild. Visit a sick friend. Work out in the gym. Grow prize roses.

I learned 10 new Indonesian words every day for three months and 1,000 words later it opened a whole new world – I added more than 300 million to the number of people on the planet that I can communicate with in their mother tongue. Three months = 300,000,000 people for life – not a bad investment.

 

Mental

Do not feel limited or be afraid to fail. Fail if you must. But fail with a positive purpose. Failures should be seen as lessons learned and limitations are challenges that can be overcome by commitment and perseverance – which are tests of personal strength and character.

 

Emotional

Procrastinators “rotate on the hinges of Time which they promise to oil tomorrow”. But remember, Time will not delay. Dream a little but live a lot.

It is possible to spend more emotional energy thinking and worrying about an undone task than what it takes to actually do it. Once done it stays done, but to keep thinking about it fatigues you out and drains you emotionally.

Get up and do it – one step at a time, one word at a time, one stroke at a time. Envisage the end result. Do not let the number of steps stop you from seeing yourself at the top of the staircase.

 

Intellectual

The internet is friend and foe – rolled into one. I speak from experience. Remember that technology itself has no conscience, no compassion, no morals. It will gladly consume your day without feeling guilty. Many people get themselves lost in it, going down alleys until they realize they have spent an hour on nothing productive. Pace yourself when “catching up with the news”. Set yourself a limit. Allocate a specific portion of your time to the small screen – including for the purposes of relaxation.

 

Spiritual

How many sunrises and sunsets can you fit into a lifetime? About 25,567 of each at most from birth till age 70. How many of those will you procrastinate away? We die a little every day. So let us also live a little every day to balance the Ledger of Time.

The quality of your day and therefore your evening is determined by what you did or neglected to do during the day. This is also a replica in the small of the outcome of your life.

 

Key Principles

  • Yes procrastination time can become productive time – when spent productively.
  • Do something positive every day, something that underscores your reason for being.
  • Do not feel limited or be afraid to fail – with a purpose.
  • Procrastinators “rotate on the hinges of Time which they promise to oil tomorrow”.
  • The internet is friend and foe – rolled into one. It will gladly consume your day without feeling guilty.
  • How many sunrises and sunsets can you fit into a lifetime? Too few.

Action Steps

  • Just begin. It is still the best way to get anything done.
  • Live in the moment but plan for tomorrow. Don’t neglect either one. You need both.
  • Try things. Fail. But fail with a positive purpose in mind.
  • Get up and do things – one step at a time, one word at a time, one stroke at a time.
  • Allocate only “so much” of your time to the small screen – including for the purposes of relaxation.
  • We die a little every day. So, also live a little every day to balance the Ledger of Time.

 

 

PERSPECTIVES: WORK-LIFE BALANCE – ENJOY WELLNESS

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The part can never be well unless the whole is well – Plato

Many ailments are self-inflicted. And you alone have the responsibility for your health – not your employer, not your doctor, not your government.

Life is short. Be a player, not a spectator. As you live, so shall you eventually retire – from work and from Life.

5/6 of Health spells 5/6 of Wealth. Guard your all-round health to ensure that you function as an integrated being who lives life fully – physically, socially, mentally, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

 

Physical

One in five people retire due to ill health. Some of the Top 10 killers of the past 150 years have been promoted to the Top 3 Killers, meaning that the world has entrenched rather than made progress in containing lifestyle changes.

Follow a nutritionally healthy and balanced diet. Limit your salt and sugar intake – they are silent killers. Stay active and fit. Inactivity leads to obesity, depression, heart disease, stroke and more. The average adult is sedentary for up to 10+ hours per day. Exercise – even 30 minutes of power-walking or exercise 3 to 4 times a week will fight chronic disease and offset a large part of the damage done by a sedentary lifestyle.

Do regular checkups for blood pressure, cholesterol, especially as age advances and women from the age of 40 onwards for breast cancer. Get to know as much as possible about any illness you may have. But Do Not Despair.

 

Social

Maintain friends across the spectrum of several age groups, generations, cultures and nationalities. Mentor, volunteer and serve others. It will broaden your circle of friends and support whilst keeping you busy and providing you with a feeling that your life has meaning.

Do not smoke. Not only is it unhealthy – it is also anti-social to affect others with your addiction.

 

Mental

Mental health is a state of psychological wellbeing where you realize your potential, and display emotional and social maturity in negotiating and coping with the stresses of life, whilst living productively and interacting with others.

Stay mentally engaged. Make time for your peace of mind. Take time to appreciate your partner. Read good books, watch good films and TV programs. Manage stress by asking “will what stresses me now, still be important 5, 10 years from now?”

 

Emotional

Take quality time out for yourself. Make a list of the positive things for which you are grateful to enjoy in your life. Have fun. Laugh. Listen to good music. Express yourself creatively. Forgive others and yourself where necessary.

 

Intellectual

Remain intellectually engaged. Become a life-long learner. Maintain brain fitness by way of reading, writing, studying a new language or musical instrument, games – all of which are said to fight the onset of dementia, which includes Alzheimer’s disease. Experiment with something new. Start a lunchtime discussion group.

 

Spiritual

Spiritual health means different things to different people, but at the core of spirituality is the sense of meaningfulness of who you are and why you are here – the purposefulness of your life and how it fits into the rest of the universe. Make peace with yourself. Meditate. Pray. Imagine. Develop faith.

 

Key Principles

  • Many ailments are self-inflicted and one in five people retire due to ill health.
  • Mentoring and volunteering will broaden your circle of friends and support.
  • Mental wellbeing displays emotional and social maturity and will let you realize your potential.
  • Positive things rain into every life.
  • Maintaining brain fitness is said to fight the onset of dementia, which includes Alzheimer’s disease.
  • At the core of spirituality is the sense of the purposefulness of your life.

 

Action Steps

  • Follow a nutritionally healthy and balanced diet. Stay active and fit. Do regular checkups. Rest well.
  • Maintain friends across the spectrum of several age groups, generations, cultures and nationalities.
  • Make time for your peace of mind. Stay mentally engaged. Continue learning and stay creative.
  • Take quality time out for yourself. Make a list of the positive things for which you are grateful.
  • Remain intellectually engaged and become a life-long learner.
  • Make peace with yourself and others as necessary. Meditate. Pray. Imagine.

PERSPECTIVES: MENTOR

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PERSPECTIVES: MENTOR

 

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”

… Oprah Winfrey

Mentoring has been around for thousands of years in one form or another and filled an important role in ancient Greek, Roman, Chinese, Indian and African civilizations amongst other. In ancient Africa, for instance, everyone in a village had the responsibility to teach children, but one non-family member was entrusted a special role to individually mentor a child.

Mentoring keeps you involved and provides you with a feeling of usefulness, accomplishment and a legacy – at times also broadening your support circle.

It facilitates growth and development – professionally, personally and oftentimes spiritually – in another person by the sharing of experience, insights, skills, techniques, ideas and wisdom that have been gained through years of living and learning, and to see certain desirable aspects of the mentor’s life assimilated and reproduced in the mentee’s life faster than if it had to be grown and nurtured personally.

It is an important part of how the world moves forward – standing on the shoulders of those who came before them.

 

Physical

In Greek mythology when Odysseus left Greece to fight the Trojans he put his household and son Telemachus in the care of his trusted family friend Mentor. The name has been adopted into English to mean both a person who imparts and shares wisdom and knowledge with a less experienced person, and as the verb “mentor”.

In more modern times, progressive businesses have created a mentoring system in the workplace where mentors support mentees in their day-to-day development. Mentors pass on special skills and knowledge in a specific area and are teachers, counselors, motivators, coaches, advisors and connectors lending a friendly ear, providing encouragement, critical feedback, and at times leadership – the end result being that both mentors and mentees benefit, since mentors are in turn themselves often also re-energized in the process.

 

Social

Mentoring and volunteering will broaden your support circle whilst providing you with an expanded feeling of usefulness and “extended family”. Humans are social beings and a journey made together is a journey made lighter and more worthwhile for both mentor and mentee.

Economic and social factors have affected mentoring over time. Workforce demographics have changed dramatically with seniors often vacating important if not critical positions through retirement – forced or voluntarily. Automation also affects jobs at an increased pace across the board, thus challenging personal growth opportunities for all – especially in view of flatter organizational structures. The result: retaining senior qualified workers becomes much more challenging.

Mentoring thus becomes increasingly important for certain businesses in terms of their knowledge retention and the professional development of their more junior staff.

 

Mental

Mentoring helps build mental capital in the form of positive attitudes and certain key skills which allow the mentee to develop a sense of achievement and with it self-esteem, confidence, autonomy and inner peace – closely related to the four psychological attitudinal cornerstones of hope, optimism, an ability to reach one’s goals and resilience.

It is further related to the concept of immaterial economical capital – what in German is referred to as “Geistiges Kapital” – in terms of individual, social and collective capabilities, and thus an individual’s ability to live a life of personal satisfaction and self-worth whilst contributing effectively to society.

 

Emotional

We are not gods, and emotions often get in the way and lead us to stumble in our relationships, our goals and aspirations. One of the values of mentors is that they can play an indispensable role in helping mentees recognize and regulate their emotions – which more often than not leads to higher achievement, improved social relationships, and heightened self-worth.

Intellectual

Businesses will benefit more from deploying retired seniors as mentors, advisors and facilitators where their key performance indicators are not measured against the financial “bottom-line” but rather how they can help others to develop themselves.

As in my case, one can only wish to be blessed with two teachers and again two managers (one younger than I am – yes it does happen) who became life-changing mentors.

 

Spiritual

As for spiritual mentoring, it also exists in the form of an intentional relationship which is focused specifically on spirituality – a process of companionship and accompaniment that helps the mentee with inner guidance to live a harmonious life towards spiritual wholeness.

 

Key Principles

  • Mentors and mentees both benefit from mentoring.
  • As social beings, our lives are lighter when shared – expanding our feeling of usefulness.
  • Mentoring helps build mental capital.
  • Mentors play an indispensable role in helping mentees recognize and regulate their emotions.
  • Businesses benefit more when deploying seniors as mentors, advisors and facilitators where their KPI’s are not measured against the financial “bottom-line”.
  • Spiritual mentoring helps mentees to connect with their inner guidance to live a harmonious life.

Action Steps

  • Create a mentoring system in the workplace where mentors support mentees in day-to-day growth.
  • Retain retiring seniors as mentors.
  • Find mentors to build mental capital in the form of positive attitudes and key skills.
  • Deploy mentors where they can help mentees recognize and regulate their emotions.
  • Deploy retiring seniors as mentors where KPI’s are not measured against the financial bottom-line.
  • Find a spiritual mentor – if you are so inclined – for inner guidance to live a life towards spiritual wholeness.

PERSPECTIVES: Transition OR Stagnate

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“Train your DNA to accept change”

 

Change – and how we handle it – reveals who we are.

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Steve Jobs.

Build your destiny one change at a time.

We are always in transition – a work in progress. And change brings with it uncertainty, fear – and an opportunity to learn and to grow. Uncertainty presents you with the opportunity to weigh things from different perspectives. As for fear, whilst it is good as a motivator, do not allow it to seep into your Soul and destroy you.

One of the sad myths is that Senior Workers do not adapt. A light needs to be shone on this fallacy. Fact Number One is that Senior Workers had been adapting all their lives – that is why many are still turning the wheels of industry. Fact Number Two is that the world keeps changing for all Generations of the alphabet – X, Y and Z’s – not only BB’s (read Baby Boomers), hence the challenge for all is to “Adapt – or Die”. Both old and young dinosaurs became extinct, not only the Senior Ones.

The secret is to learn how to adapt, how to handle and accept change. And Seniors may just have a slight edge here – having adapted through 60+ years of change, and still doing it.

 

Physical

In moving from birth through adolescence into maturity we transition though much physical change. There are those who would like to remain paused longer at some of the various points on the way but it makes more sense to enjoy each stage as you move through it – “to live in the moment”.

 

Social

Nowadays very few of us are born, live, and die in the same “village”. We are thus bound to experience change brought about by moving from one place to another – engaging in new positions of work, meeting new people who may become future friends – and new opportunities.

We develop social circles as part of growing up, going to school, college and eventually work. In the process those whom we meet are accorded a place in one of our three inner, middle and outer circles.

As we grow, we realize that our preferred relationships will become a valuable part of our support structure in later life, especially for women – who currently tend to live longer than men.

Good relationships make life worthwhile, and we should “water” those that we want to keep.

 

Mental

A multitude of changes impact on us throughout life, and oftentimes simultaneously. Some require more mental energy than others – and with more reward. It is notable that those who succeed in life, are themselves the change they want to see in this world, rather than expecting the world to change to fit in around them.

It, therefore, helps to spend your energy transitioning with change – whilst maintaining the core tenets of your life – rather than to spend your energy fighting it.

 

Emotional

You never stand on the banks of the same river twice. You never go back to your old hometown. Both change. Do not search for past joys to repeat themselves. Nurture the ones that present themselves now, and let them nurture you in return.

 

Intellectual

Life does not come with a manual. You have to work it out for yourself as you go along.

There is a difference between being a product of your past and being a prisoner of it. Destiny should not be by chance, but rather by choice.

And it may help to realize that the path of change follows a certain set of steps: Open yourself up > Step into the fire > Learn > Change > Grow. If you do not, Life will soon disappear in the rear-view mirror.

 

Spiritual

Respect the journey you have been given. There are pauses and stops on the way – some enjoyable, others less pleasant – and though you may seem to be able to wander off the trail from time to time, you will visit all your pauses and stops.

 

Key Principles

  • From cradle to grave we transition though much change.
  • As we move physical location we experience social change and meet new friends.
  • A multitude of changes impact on us throughout life.
  • We never stand on the banks of the same river twice.
  • Destiny should not be by chance, but rather by choice.
  • We will visit all the pauses and stops on our Journey.

Action Steps

  • Enjoy each stage of Life as you move through it.
  • Develop your preferred relationships as part of your support structure for later life.
  • Spend your energy transitioning with change rather than wasting energy fighting it.
  • Do not search for past joys to repeat themselves – nurture the present ones.
  • Open yourself up > Step into the fire > Learn > Change > Grow.
  • Respect the journey you have been privileged with.