No matter how old we are, it’s always exciting to have something to look forward to. Working, enjoying retirement, or a little of both. Anticipation is a lovely thing.
Every year, I set major goals (also known as BHAGs, or Big Hairy Ass Goals) which allow me to plan for, train for, and do what I love. By any measure, as we begin to face the end of our lives, even if it is a few decades away, it makes sense to give ourselves permission to do what we love.
This year is as wild as usual. But this is what puts the bird in my chest. It is most definitely not for everyone, nor is it a statement that anyone else should do the same. It does ask, what might give you joy? What will you give yourself permission to experience?
Some time ago, I wrote an article which offered up some of that perspective, and included a few tales of women who had gone on to do some pretty interesting things with their lives. One had become a trapeze artist in her 80s, for instance.
To quote my own words:
Whether that’s a different kind of work, a new skill or making a move to a new town makes no difference. The point is to point ourselves in a new direction to see where it takes us.
Anything new that we begin breathes new life into our hearts and souls, and, in every way imaginable, makes us feel young all over again.
I also wrote, “We begin where we are.” Life is always reinventing itself.
Of course, no one has to go out and do adventure travel. Or become a trapeze artist. These are just stories that delighted me and inspired me deeply. That’s why I shared them – to inspire you to find something that breathes life into your very being.
That’s the spirit of all these stories. Some won’t speak to you. Some will. The trick is to not take it personally. What applies, drink it in. What doesn’t, just pass, as in a lively game of bridge.
One woman’s “Everest” might simply be getting up the courage to travel to the next state to see the Grand Canyon for the first time.
And of course, many have to deal with physical limitations, just as I do. One of my closest friends, a woman in her 60s, just had a hip replacement. A lifetime runner and skier, she has had to ratchet some of that back. She decided to shift her focus.
Depending on how you and I care for our aging bodies, we can exercise control over the process. It’s not all dependent on genetics (actually, only a very small part of it has to do with DNA) or the lucky draw.
There are many articles saying that exercise keeps our bodies strong. Some even go on to declare that skipping a few decades in our middle years and returning to exercise later in life can gain back the benefits we would have experienced had we never quit.
In fact, the benefits last far longer than we might have thought. You and I may not get our tiny waists back (if we ever had one) but we can live longer, better, and fuller lives for it.
So, should you start running marathons? Of course not – unless that’s what you want. But movement, of any kind, matters. It could be Gentle Yoga, Pilates, or just walking. It doesn’t matter, as long as you do it.
For some of us, just getting out of the chair to go outside and garden sets the world on fire. For others, it’s traipsing across Siberia by horse. Neither is a statement of status, but a story of being alive and enjoying it. Each is full of its own challenges, pains, hurts, heartaches, and losses.
The question is, what determines a well-lived life for you?
We all deteriorate somewhat over time. We all have to make allowances for injury (my hand is up here) or periodic illness (my hand is also up here). But in no way do those things have to prevent us from following our passion, setting goals, and living a very full life.
It’s your life, your one wild and precious life, the only one you and I have.
Find something or someone that inspires you personally. Ask how that speaks to the bird in your chest. Then ask, what on earth is keeping me from giving myself permission to do (as best I can, at this point in my life) what I most passionately wish to do?
What BHAG did you write this year? What is going to light up your life in a new way? How do you set goals that work for where you are, right now, that will give you joy? Let’s have a conversation!