“The greatest danger for most of us
is not that our aim is too high and we miss it,
but that it is too low and we reach it.”
These are not “ordinary” times. The late visionary futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard spoke of the need for all of the generations to awaken to their potential and contribute their energies and gifts with the commitment required by these perilous times.
Millions of people reaching “retirement age” each year have the opportunity to emerge into a life stage, the stage of elderhood, where one’s life purpose is attuned to the energies and wisdom of an evolving world, and where the wisdom and gifts developed through a lifetime are used in service to that purpose. Waking up each day with a sense of intention gives us a unique opportunity to grow into and serve as true elders in a world that has given us so much and now needs us to aim high and give back our very best. Imagine the possibilities once we choose to set an intention each morning by changing our thoughts, words and actions in the way we see our lives unfolding.
A significant difference between those who grow into the fullness of elderhood and those who merely grow old is the willingness to look within, to identify the possibilities that seek to emerge through them in their precious later years, and to consciously work toward nurturing the growth and eventual harvest of these possibilities. The all-too-prevalent belief that life does not ask much from us after retirement age is painfully disempowering and impoverishing for a world urgently in need of the gifts that seek to emerge through seasoned thriving elders.
If we are committed to growing into true elderhood and giving life to our world by bringing forth the gifts that naturally want to emerge in this life stage, it is essential that we live intentionally, consciously working to identify and nurture the expressions of purpose that awaken our aliveness and passion for contributing to society. Without these, we simply exist rather than thrive, we grow old rather than whole.
Having a vision for our ideal elderhood is an important catalyst for living with purpose. When older adults are asked what their ideal elderhood looks like, they might talk about some exciting bucket list activities or spending time with the grandkids. But imagine having a “holistic bucket list” that addresses a much wider range of our needs and potentials as human beings, and then being intentional about living into these rich potentials. Doing so is a powerful avenue for finding and living with the purpose that is so essential to our wellbeing and our ability to serve as we age. You can begin to develop such a vision by making it a priority. You can give yourself the gifts of quiet time, reflection, and exploration of possibilities to see what images and energies emerge as you focus on the various dimensions of yourself—potentials which, when fulfilled through intention and focus, will contribute to your total wholeness and well being. When we allow our inner light to shine it opens up our world to unexpected opportunities that support us to turn our passion into purpose.
Some important practices that support living with purpose and intentionality include:
Being fully present – In order to experience what it really feels like to be alive and filled with a sense of purpose we need to practice being present to each moment and each experience, both inner and outer
Pay attention – to what has heart and meaning, which opens us up to the human resources of love, gratitude, acknowledgement and validation
Be flexible – It’s important to have a plan that helps us aim toward a life well lived, but we also need to allow spaciousness for the unexpected so we are not attached to the outcome to the point that we get disappointed or discouraged.
Follow your intuition – Be courageous and choose to live your life according to you, not what others expect of you or think it’s right for you.
Be open to possibilities – Pay attention in the ways life unfolds rather than being attached to the outcome.
If you are working toward your ideal vision for your elderhood, you are living purposefully. You are aiming high — growing, thriving and offering the best of yourself to help support the powerful evolutionary impulse toward healing and transformation that is alive in today’s world.
About the Authors
Ron Pevny is Director of the Center for Conscious Eldering and author of “Conscious Living, Conscious Aging.”
Katia Petersen President of Petersen Argo Inc. a Transformational Education Organization.
Ron and Katia will be offering a retreat called “Aiming High: Cultivating Purpose and Intentionality in Life’s Later Chapters” at the IONS EarthRise Retreat Center March 29-April 2, 2020.