I was asked to speak to a group of ladies recently about aging and adjusting. I put together twelve ways we can age with confidence and decided to share it as a blog post. At any age we can take charge of our lives and step into that space with confidence.
Listen to this Episode of the Focus With Marlene Podcast
12 Steps to Aging Confidently
1. Develop a new focus – a new mindset.
Focus on what you can do; don’t dwell on what you can’t do. As we age, there will be things we no longer can do and things we struggle to do. For example, arthritis can make it difficult to pick up objects or hold onto them, and we begin to worry about our abilities declining.
Worry can become a habit that eliminates possibilities. Do what you can and do it with confidence.
2. Acknowledge and accept.
It is hard to accept that we are aging. But each day is an opportunity to begin again.
- What interests, passions, or things have you wanted to do but never had time for?
- Is it possible to do some of them now?
For example, travel. Most cruise ships adapt for wheelchairs, making travel with disabilities possible.
Accept the changes that are happening. It is part of life. Become comfortable with who you are at this stage in life.
3. Believe in yourself.
Think back to times when you were challenged with overwhelming situations.
- What did you do?
- What worked?
- What didn’t work?
- What did you learn about yourself?
When faced with difficult things in the moment, we often struggle with the enormity of the challenge. Yet, when we reflect on past difficult times, they felt just as enormous and impossible at that time. But when we confronted them, we were able to move through and beyond and learn something valuable in the doing. Each life event taught us something important.
4. Find something meaningful to do every day.
You bring to projects a maturity and a lifetime of wisdom that you didn’t have when you were younger. You are never too old to try something new. You can develop new skills.
Work on projects together with others, such as quilting or making prayer shawls.
Many organizations need volunteers that can read stories to children at the library, or volunteering at a local hospital or helping at a food bank.
For me it is writing, blogging, and speaking, finding a new way to do what I love to do, which is counseling and teaching.
There are more productive days ahead of you than you might think.
5. Let go of the past.
Let go of resentments. Let go of anything that keeps you thinking in a negative way. Come to terms or reconcile with whatever happened in the past. It is over. It is done. Resolve any torment or heavy disapproval you may have of yourself or others.
Forgive yourself and forgive others. Forgiveness is a gift. Everyone has made mistakes. Everyone has made bad choices. Everyone has done things they wish they hadn’t done. Regurgitating the past keeps you from moving forward.
We may look back and think, I wish I had done this or that, but each new day gives us the opportunity to start fresh. Let go of what you can’t do and focus on what you can.
6. Do something pleasant each day…
…Whatever that is, even if it is only 10-to-15 minutes. That might mean going for a walk, reading a book, calling a friend, doing some crossword puzzles, baking cookies, taking an online course, working on an interesting project – anything that takes your mind off your worries or depressed mood. During that time, focus on the here and now – not the future or the past – but right now, in the moment.
7. Share your life stories.
Why do you need to share your stories? Because they contain a lifetime of learning, often gained the hard way. You have faced losses and challenges you never wanted. But within those challenges you became a better person, a stronger person.
Others want to know they can make it too. Share your doubts and fears and what you have learned along the way. Share your wisdom. Remember the uncertainties you had. Acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers, but you don’t need to. Be honest and genuine.
8. Develop a network of friends.
Connecting with others is not just a feel-good thing – it is necessary for our health and wellbeing.
For those who are widows, it is especially critical. Share and encourage one another. This network of friends becomes an extended family. You can laugh together and share your concerns. You can be honest and real. You do not have to solve everybody’s problems, but you can listen and encourage each other. You are there for one another as you lose longtime friends. You need that network of friends to help you through those tough times. Relationships are critical to our health. Get together, play games, and laugh.
9. Develop a sense of humor.
Every day, find something to laugh about. It is amazing how it changes your mood. A friend of mine sends me funny pictures, blog posts, etc. that make me roar with laughter. I pass them on. Find those funny stories – post funny pictures around the house that make you smile when you pass by. Laugh at yourself. Here again, science has shown us the powerful positive impact it has on our health.
10. Make time work for you.
We have 24 hours 7 days a week. Managing time is making time work for you.
When you develop schedules and routines, it stabilizes your life. It provides a structure and dependability for each day. Your schedule does not have to have a rigid hour-by-hour regulation. It can be very flexible, but it establishes routines that make life more predictable and offers a structure for each day. It allows you to accomplish the daily, weekly, or monthly chores that are needed, with time set aside specifically for relaxation and fun.
11. Give yourself grace.
When you struggle in the morning to get started and just want to sit down for the remainder of the day, take the day off and take care of your needs. Then when you are feeling better, resume your activities. Grace yourself extra time to do things when needed.
Grace allows you to be human. We are not perfect. It says you can be kind to yourself, giving yourself leniency and compassion.
Give yourself grace to have a day of doing nothing. Then pick up the reins the following day.
12. Celebrate your life.
Count your blessings. Every day, give thanks for what you have. Make a list of things you are grateful for. Repeat them often. It not only makes you feel better, but research shows it lowers stress levels and improves brain functioning.
When you purposefully look for things to be grateful for, it begins to reshape your situation and your outlook.
When I wake up, I begin my day by thanking God for all the things I am grateful for. It sets the tone for the day. And whenever I get down, I stop and remind myself of all the things I am grateful for. Achy bones and joints or cloudy rainy days, there are still a multitude of things to be grateful for.