As you enter a new decade, what is your life plan? Because, it changes a lot. I asked a friend, and she said that her goals was to make it to 70 and do everything she can between 60 and 70, because at 60 you start to become aware of the fact that time is limited. Even if you don’t have a major health problem, and don’t consider the standard life is short warning…”you could get hit by a car tomorrow”, time is running out. Have you done all that you want to do? I suggest doing a life review in these areas at the start of each decade to make certain that you are living the life that you want, on purpose and not by default. The older that you get, the more essential this analysis is.
These are the areas that you need to review:
Relationships With Friends
Relationships With Significant Other
If you are on Facebook, you often become aware of others lives without being their friend, or even knowing who they are. But sometimes, the facts of their situation, hit you and you click on their profile. This was the case of a family in Texas who was returning from a charity event on a holiday when they were in a car accident. Their daughter suffered a serious brain injury that she still hasn’t recovered from. The mother frequently updates her large circle of friends and even when you don’t know people, you mourn with them. In this case, a life changing event would alter your life plan.
The social security administration says that I have a life expectancy of 86. That is a life of 31,390 days. I wonder if I have made the best of the 24,455 that, as of my 67th birthday, that I have lived. Ok, no I don’t wonder. The is no. Hell. No. I haven’t made the best of all of the 24, 455 days that I have had on this earth, probably a very small percentage of them actually. But that math is disturbing. I only have 6935 days left, and that assumes I go with the law of averages according to the Social Security Administration. That number is stressing me out.
I follow a twitter account of History Lovers Club. While I am not particularly an avid history fan, I love old photos, about a time that is no longer. I particularly love looking at pictures from the 60’s. It was a time that defined us as boomers, and having graduated from high school in 1969, it was a time before my life became complicated and I had to start adulting. I look at those pictures with nostalgia, the same emotions that I get when I hear an Elvis song that my mother used to play on the record player. She loved music, and Elvis, and was a great dancer. That is one of the few joys I remember her having as she struggled with her own depression, anxiety and relationship issues.
Anger festers and manifests into something physical.
So, now here you are at the precipice of your next decade. What baggage are you carrying? Do you want to take it into the next stage of your life? What is voluntary and what is not? How are you going to deal with each? Lot’s to unpack here because, you know history.
Journaling is absolutely essential. There is no better way to process your thoughts and emotions than to write them down. Talking them out with someone does not have the same affect because it is a conversation that may prevent you from fulling vetting each thought or emotion. With that said, the mantra “no feeling is final” should always be in front of or at the end of your thoughts. I have kept journals for decades, but I didn’t really want them around for family or friends to peruse after I am gone.
So, this concern that I would be embarrassed, or someone would be hurt by my thoughts and emotions, kept me from really processing issues and emotions. When you are raised in a family that doesn’t discuss feelings, or validate emotions, it is hard to start that practice as an adult. It almost feels like play acting.
I bought a journal that has white board pages and comes with an erasable ink pen. This is such a fantastic idea.
When I feel the need to vent, or know I am thinking crazy thoughts, it is so vey valuable to write and journal and explore, knowing that I can erase them. It is almost like the write on paper and burn exercise, but better. You need to understand yourself, and you can’t if you are constantly pushing thoughts and emotions to the back of your head, or failing to acknowledge their existence.
When you think of your life, you think in terms of quality, but not as much about quantity, like exactly how many years am I going to live. Some people would prefer never to know—planners and organizing types like me, well I would give anything to know exactly how long I am going to live. As I ponder that possibility, that I would know exactly how long I would live, I consider, what would I do differently? I was 46 when my mother died, and she was 67, the age that I will be on my next birthday.
As I approach that birthday, I don’t really consider the possibility that I might die this year because I don’t have the health issue that she had, which was kidney failure. I definitely will say that if I had thought that I would live to be 90+, I would have definitely made a better financial plan. Now, at 66, I am looking ahead and thinking that I don’t have a plan that will carry me through my 90’s because I have planned for a “it is all going to go well plan”, not a “stuff happens” plan.
It is not because I can’t pay my mortgage and buy food that long, it is because all of the other things that you have to pay for as you age, are unknowns. Assisted living, medical issues, help to live to have any kind of life.
Considering each decade of life as a chapter, I am well into my 6th chapter, and it is certain that most of us will not have a 10th chapter. So, what do I want to accomplish in my next few chapters? I don’t know many who have a plan, a list, goals, like maybe they had in their 20’s to 40’s? At those stages of life, goals were about jobs, and marriage and children and, honestly, good things that you wish and hope for when you have the optimism of youth.
Now, goals for me are more about purpose because I still think that there is something I am supposed to do with my life, and time is running out. In his book I Can See Clearly Now, Dr. Wayne Dyer quotes Leo Tolstoy‘s book The Death of Ivan Ilyich where Ivan asks his wife on his deathbed “What if my whole life has been wrong?” I have always been a fan of Dr. Dyer, and read many of his books, but this one thought always kind of haunted me.
I don’t think it is possible that your whole life is wrong in the sense that you wouldn’t want to not have your children, but it certainly is possible that whatever purpose you are designed to serve on this earth, you didn’t listen to the signs and you are not on that path. I want my last Chapters to allow me to answer that question knowingly, with certainty, that there is no question, my life was on purpose and right.
Last Chapters On Purpose
What is the purpose of our life?
What is the definition of life purpose?
What is the mission of my life?
How does one know their purpose in life?
Still Have Something To Do
For most of my adult life, certainly since the age of 30, I felt like I was in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing. I have felt since then, and it only gets stronger with age, and as decades go by, that I am supposed to be doing something. I just don’t know what it is. It is definitely bigger than anything I have done, and somehow I feel responsible to use the gifts I have been given. But, still, I don’t know what it is. As I do my life expectancy calculation, I am reminded that time is running out. I subscribe to all of the theories that life gives you what you ask for, that there is no mistake, that you were put in this place for a reason. Still, I don’t know what my purpose on this earth is, and don’t know what it will feel like if I find out. Oprah used to say that she prayed every day for God to “Use Her”. I am pretty sure that worked out for her, as she lived on purpose and mission throughout her life. But, for the rest of us, do you wake every day with trumpets and fireworks that give you a feeling of being where you belong? Everyone isn’t Oprah and doesn’t have such a grand purpose, that I am sure of. But is it a state of mind?
I was raised in a family that tended to be co-dependent. Taking care of others, taking on problems that are not your own, trying to fix all things. It is a double edged sword as they say. I am so happy and proud that both of my parents valued helping others who were disenfranchised, less fortunate than we were. I think part of that empathy gene is that you look at a person’s situation and feel it as if it is your own. Isn’t that the opposite of “I got mine, so you are on your own”?
Is it reduced to such a small granule that people who had a meal at a homeless shelter because you donated money makes that your purpose for that minute? I don’t know. I just feel restless about the issue. I have done charity work and donated to so many causes, but I am still here with this uncertainty, and time is running out.