This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own.
Last week I attended the AARP Disrupt Aging: Implications of Living 100 Event at the Newseum in Washington DC powered by Forbes Media. It was a life altering day. I've been thinking and talking about rewriting the scripts on aging since before I turned 50, and being surrounded by people with the same guiding thought, especially at this moment when my book on this topic is launching, was an affirmation and an inspiration. We are living longer, and the old models of aging are no longer useful or relevant. We don't need to follow some archaic idea of what it means to be an older person.
The idea that aging starts at some point along the journey is absurd. We are aging from the moment we are born. There is no moment when we reach the top of the hill and no reason for a downhill slide. Life is a process of becoming. It isn't over until we take our final breath. We write our story, and with each decade we can start a new chapter, filled with possibility for expansion, adventure, and growth.
We are never too old.
It is never too late.
At any moment, if we so choose, we can write a different story.
"What if we didn't have the word 'retirement.'" Jo Ann Jenkins CEO, AARP Author Disrupt Aging
This, so much this! I have seen it over and over again. People retire, stop growing, stop doing, stop connecting, and they begin to decline. This is not destiny, however. What if we looked at retirement as an opportunity for reinvention? What would that look like?
We could go back to school or as Dave Evans of Stanford University's D.Life Lab suggests, enroll in YouU. How many lives are you? What if there is no 'best you', but instead there are a myriad of possibilities? "Learning is just curiosity with legs." Dave Evans
We could serve others, making a positive difference in the world and making connections that help keep us joyful and alive. We don't have to feel isolated. We can release the stories that no longer serve us. We can risk rejection, and in the process risk joy. "This idea that we're alone is a false narrative." Cheryl Strayed, author Wild. "We take risks because even though it may turn it badly, it may turn out gloriously."
We could reconnect with the people we love, nurture and strengthen those relationships. We could pursue and cultivate new relationships. When we build a life of meaning, we become more optimistic. "In order to heal the world you need the ability to give and receive love." Dr. Vivek Murthy, 19th Surgeon General of the United States
We can nurture our bodies, get up and move. Keep the life force pumping through our veins. "Disrupting is exercise, activity, and moving." Jeff Halevey Host of Workout from Within CEO Halevey Life
We can reinvent ourselves! We are peaking in different ways as we age, the rate of decline after each peak is incremental. Our experiences offer powerful insights that younger people have yet to cultivate. "Grit never peaks" and as we get older "we're much better editors of what's valuable in our lives." Rich Karlgaard Editor at Large and Global Futurist at Forbes Media
We can redesign our lives and redefine ourselves. It requires some reflection. What gets you up? What gives you purpose? With whom do you do it? Can you do it with a smile? "Redesigning our lives does not happen by accident." Debra Whitman, PhD EVP and CPPO, AARP
We can focus on how what we do impacts the world at large, from the small to the big picture. Even the most mundane interactions offer us an opportunity for kindness. "Everything I do I ask myself, "Is this going to do some good? Can I help people with this? Is this a force for good in the world?"" Ann Curry, Emmy Award-Winning Journalist, Executive Producer & Reporter, PBS Series We'll Meet Again
I made a video with more of my takeaways, but the gist of it is this. The world may deem us irrelevant, or ask us to become invisible, or suggest that we have nothing to offer, but this is only true if we accept it. There is no better time that right now to become the person you've always wanted to be, to explore all of the many facets of who you are and what that means. We #disruptaging by smashing stereotypes, changing the Zeitgeist, shifting the paradigm, and rewriting what it means to grow BOLDER with every passing year.
I'm all in. It's my guiding purpose, it's my biggest message, it's the thing that gets me excited to get up every single day.
I will not go gentle into that good night.
How about you?
Let's #disruptaging, together!