As you age, how do you see your retirement years playing out? As a time to settle for what you got and feeling a bit disappointed? Or do you want a more vigorous lifestyle that allows you to continue to stretch and grow?
If you say, “Oh, yes, the second one,” then it’s possible to recreate your life and set out to reach goals you’ve only allowed your heart to feel. You’re exactly like me in that regard.
I continue to expand my vision of what’s possible, and I don’t intend to stop any time soon.
However, with age, I’m more patient and have learned to allow time to play its magic on life.
About 12 years ago, after my caregiving days, I set in motion a strategy to create a lifestyle that would keep me safe, healthy, independent, financially sound, mobile, fit, and content.
Today, I’m living it.
While it took me 10 years to create it, my message to you is this: “having a life of contentment, independence, hope, and vitality is possible.” What’s required is a plan and consciously working and acting on it. And remember, it deserves patience.
Future thinking, what I practice today, doesn’t predict the future. I use this method to find “what’s possible” in a situation or concern, to look for the unexpected consequences that can cause my plans to run amok, and then lay out various options of possible choices.
The best part of future thinking is that it prepares me for the inevitable changes that life throws my way.
If you plan for the issues that could happen, instead of thinking what will happen, you gain new perspectives and context for present-day decisions. It also helps you to deal with the dilemma that the future can’t be predicted.
Plus, it gives you the opportunity to create “what if” scenarios – various options, allowing you to turn and pivot when life throws you a curveball.
As we grow older, we have to make choices based on what is to come – the premise I based my future life on. Thankfully, family caregiving showed me the inevitable and from that perspective I am better equipped to plan ahead.
For example, when thinking through my housing concerns, I had to consider downsizing, moving from a two-story dwelling in the suburbs, car dependency, isolation, and fretting about the stairs.
I could not predict my future to know whether two stories would affect my well-being later on. However, the chances of slipping or falling when carrying a basket of dirty clothes upstairs (location of washer/dryer) put me at a higher risk.
It’s impossible to predict whether I would fall – but having a two-story home would certainly grow into a bigger issue down the road.
And that is what “future thinking” is all about… finding the potential, unexpected consequences of present-day issues related to growing older.
Here’s an example of unexpected consequences you may recall: The one-child-per-couple policy in China. In late 2015, the government announced that it was relaxing the policy, after 35 years of enforcing it.
Officials are now encouraging childbirth because they worry the fertility rate has sunk well below 2.1, the level required to keep the population stable in the long term. They fear a shrinking population will hamper economic growth.
As for other parts of the world, you can also see how the unexpected consequences of having less children have affected the shrinking numbers of family caregivers.
On the flip side of consequences, the 1- or 2-child family decisions have led to the creation of new technologies like Join Papa, check-in apps that connect daughters/sons to parents, online personal caregivers, robotics as caregivers, and more.
So, not all unexpected consequences give negative effects – as long as we prepare to turn and pivot.
Thinking about the future is fundamentally important to dealing with the challenges of today. In order to confront these problems successfully, we have to think carefully about the action steps to take, not just in the immediate moment, but as conditions evolve.
As we’ve seen time and again, it’s all too easy for actions that seem reflexively correct to lead to far greater crises down the road.
My “Plan Future Me” digital course will launch in the next month. It’s designed to follow the strategy I used to get me where I am today. For a sneak preview, you can download the free future plan cheat sheet to help you get started and to stay tuned for the course launch dates.
Which type of aging do you think would suit you best? On what observations do you base your opinion? How do you plan your future? Please share with our community.