Aging or Growing?
# 102 What is your Goal?
I recently read the article Are You Growing or Aging? The author noted that “aging starts where growth stops.” She offered Seven Ways To Let Go + Grow. Take a look.
That is what aging well is about, and as we head toward a new year, it seems like a good time to give myself a grade on how it’s going. Are my choices leading to just aging - going downhill to death, or are they leading to growth - being the person I want to be despite life’s circumstances?
Dan and I planned to age well - and we did to a degree. We exercised, ate relatively well, worked full-time after retiring, and were active. After he died, I was at a crossroads.
What quickly became clear was that I wanted to age well - to grow - even if it was on my own and would take more effort than we had put into it.
Among other things, it meant examining my habits and choices - eliminating those that didn’t support my goal and adopting ones that did. It meant giving up things I loved, like double-stuffed golden vanilla Oreo cookies, and doing things I hated, like going anywhere alone. It meant adhering to the dimensions of wellness and being willing to make numerous changes.
I have been on this path for about two years - so far, so good. The first step was to cut back on the sugar, which included bread, and eat more salads - my stomach felt better and I lost ten pounds. I exercised more - there were not so many aches and pains. I was even able to take a 3 1/2 mile walk by the Pacific Ocean recently.
Every day I try to make choices that lead me in that direction. Some days are better than others. I’ve written about habits and choices before:
However, the further I go down the aging well path, the more convinced I am that habits and choices play a critical role. At every point along the way, I can let my habits lead or make a conscious choice.
I just finished reading Atomic Habits by James Clear for the third time. True, I’ve mentioned the book many times. The following YouTube video offers a quick summary and review of his approach.
The good news: habits are behaviors that people perform automatically, like brushing their teeth, taking a shower, and driving to work. The bad news: people follow the same daily routines without thinking about them. Habits like smoking, overeating, and procrastinating can be harmful.
Yes, I choose, whether by default or conscious decision. It’s easier to allow the habits to reign - to do what I’ve always done, but it isn’t always in my best interest. One example, my routine was to have a snack - those Oreo cookies - each night before going to bed - how did that help me age well? My habit was to ignore exercising- how did that help me age well?
So I re-evaluated, let go of some, and replaced them with the following:
Drink more water and exercise. That will improve my health.
Watch documentaries rather than the news. I will worry less about the future.
Use the online programs I bought recently. Grammarly helps me build my writing skills, and Evernote helps me organize better. They will help me write a better newsletter.
Read informational books rather than fiction. There is so much to learn.
Go out by myself. The more often I do, the more comfortable I will become.
Five small changes - are they that challenging? One wouldn’t think so. So, the question is, “why do I still revert to the old choice more often than not?”
Case in point, the walk to the grocery, I didn’t take. I identified the benefits - it’s a chance to get out, I get exercise, and feel better about myself - all true. Then - I put it off until tomorrow.
Sometimes my reasons “why not?” override my reasons “why to?” Reasons - or excuses such as, “it’s too far to walk,” “it’s too cold,” I don’t really need that can of soup, or “my knee hurts” win.
Something is keeping me from making choices that lead to my goal. I think those “somethings” are anxiety and a lack of planning. “What if’s” and not knowing how to handle them get in the way.
So, in terms of a grade, I give myself a B or B+. I’m aware of the barriers and taking steps toward aging well. Still, there is work to do - but, I do have new paths to follow in 2023.
What grade would you give yourself?
Two articles I wanted to share this week are
Why You Should Think About Yourself - In the Future. “The key is to focus on living each day as if you were preparing for tomorrow. This means taking good care of your body and mind so you can live optimally later.”
A Reason to Live Well “We need a reason to make ourselves do difficult things and live well.”
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