What 3 things should every 70 year old avoid if they want to flourish? Posted on June 19, 2020June 19, 2020 by Peter Meadows There are three things no one in their 70s should do to make the best of their years. All three may surprise you. And all three matter. So if you are already past that big birthday, or heading in that direction, here’s some wisdom. But I need to confess it’s not mine but comes from the mind of Retirement and Career Coach Gary Foster. I’m sharing it, first, because it makes sense and, second, in the hope you will not only benefit but check out more of Gary’s rich thinking. You’ll find a link to his blog at the end of this one. What are those three things to shun like the plague when 70 hits you? Gary is an outspoken advocate for living to 100 or beyond – having set his target at 112 ½. So he’s worth listening to and here they come. 1. Avoid most other 70-year olds. Gary admits, ‘That sounds cruel’. And it does because most people in their 70s have a circle of similarly-aged friends they love and cherish. But he backs his view with reason. He points out that many, if not most, 70-year-olds are innocently in the ‘decay mode’ – in terms of their attitude to life and the way their body works. And with that comes a resignation and acceptance of what he calls ‘the myths of automatic senescence and accelerating physical decline’. Or, to put this in my kind of English, too many in their 70s have fallen for the false belief that age offers no choice but to accept the gradual decay of our faculties’. As evidence Gary points to the fact that conversations are often limited to the subjects of health, memory or friends impacted by the same. And talk seldom covers how to maintain and celebrate good health and counter decline with wise practices that should always have been in place. Why does that matter? Gary quotes the opinion of motivational speaker Jim Rohn that each of us ‘rise to the average of the five people we spend the most time with’. In other words, if those closest to a 70 year old are in ‘negative older age mode’ that 70 year old is likely to get infected with the same attitude. That’s why Gary encourages his fellow septuagenarians to seek the company of those ‘unafraid of change, with insatiable curiosity, and big thinking’ – which is more likely to be found in those in the generations coming up behind. By doing so, he says, ‘We’ll be able to grow and learn from their creativity and energy and also to help guide them with our acquired wisdom and experience.’ 2. Avoid the retirement trap The ‘retirement trap’, explains Gary, is the belief that life after work should offer endless leisure and rest. A belief that we are born to eventually make the transition from ‘vocation to vacation’ – a concept dreamed up by politicians to free up jobs for those younger and by marketers to relieve us of our money. He argues that ‘retirement doesn’t exist in nature nor did it exist anywhere on the planet 150 years ago. It’s a Euro-American concept that doesn’t exist in many countries, some of which can claim the longest-living citizens’. By avoiding the retirement trap we escape the implication that ‘winding down’ is better than staying in growth mode. As Gary would remind us, we are given only two choices with our bodies and brains – grow or decay. And that ‘retirement’ – a word derived from the French ‘retirer’ meaning retreat or go backward – can too easily put us on the decay path. I like Gary’s list of ‘the fruits of traditional, leisure-based retirement’ – none of which are life-enhancing. To express them in my own words they are – • Increased separation from stimulating company – a major life limiter. • A more sedentary lifestyle – despite best intentions, most retirees fail to do the exercise needed to keep in good health. • The risk of self-indulgence – though we are ‘wired to serve’ it’s easy to drift into ‘I’ve earned the right to put myself at the centre of my choices’. • Losing work from our lifestyle – with meaningful and productive activity being a key factor in living longer. 3. Avoid drifting Who would think of trying to travel in a strange country without some kind of road map and a plan? Yet that’s what vast numbers do when exiting full time work for a new territory where they could spend the next 20 to 40 years. As a result, Gary asserts, many end up drifting. Even those who have a financial plan may have no clear roadmap that takes account of the mental, physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual sides of life in this unexplored land. This can end up with people drifting without a clear and fulfilling purpose. With their circumstances and the expectations of others becoming the driving force – taking them on a path to accelerated deterioration. Gary notes the view of the business coach Dan Sullivan who says, ‘People die early for three reasons: No money. No friends. No purpose’. On this basis, a healthy and fulfilling life in our 70s demands a plan, a sense of purpose, and a direction. Without this, warns Gary, ‘we waste the talents, skills, experience, and energy that still resides in us as 70-year olds. And that’s close to being criminal’. To see more from Gary Foster check out his website here. How do these 3 things to avoid strike you? Do you have some of your own to contribute? Please tell all either here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook community Peter Meadows Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, and escapes to Spain when he can. He doesn’t have a garden.