Young; Think Old
As we’ve recently seen how precious and short life can be, many of us are viewing decisions about how we spend our time differently. We are now looking to the future more too. We’ve seen terrible things happen in this world lately that don’t seem to make sense. But they do cause us to reflect on just what the heck is going on in our own lives, and what kinds of things we want to do now and in our future. The question becomes: How do we decide on a course of action now, when the future is so unpredictable?
For young people, it’s a common malady that they want everything now. For us in the older generation, we still want it all, but realize that there are some things we can’t have.
So most of us struggle throughout our lives balancing what we want with reality. But this does not have to be traumatic. There are some tricks to learn that can help us deal with life’s mundane, but bug-the-heck-out-of-you, decisions.
Recently a friend came to me with a mid-life crisis decision. He’s mid-forties and very successful in his career pursuit. His family is young and needs his attention. He is at his prime at work and doing great things. He has many strings tugging at his mind daily; like most of us. He has been asked to promote and move into a whole new career obligation with new priorities and time commitments.
This new move would give him more money but less time with his family. It will also add more stress to his work life. This is a very tough decision.
As another example, a young friend came to me for advice about her crisis. She’s a single mom with three kids, looking to make it on her own. She wants family time but reality says she needs to work. On the other hand, she needs more education if she’s really going to make it on her own and be able to raise her family the way she wants. Does she go to school and give up not only family time but also her current income level so she can have more income in the future? This is a very tough decision.
Nearly all of us face these type decisions. Decisions that involve the now or later syndrome. Do I do something now and enjoy it later; do I do something later or enjoy it now?
There’s many ways to look at this dilemma. But here’s one solution. Live young; think old.
My advice in all these scenarios is essentially the same. Live your life young at heart and spirit. Enjoy what you can. Take advantage of all opportunities that your instinct says you should do. But think old while you do it.
In other words, learn to place yourself out in the future and look back – as if you were older than you are now. I call this the Think Old exercise. Step out of the box you’re in now, and visualize you ten years from now, let’s say. Then look back at your last ten years and ask: what did I accomplish; how happy was I; did I do what I wanted to do?
Use this new reflection (outside your current box) to decide on your next moves. Plan a new career path; make life changes; save more money; validate your current situation; whatever – but consciously choose what that “look back” at your life will look like when you actually get there and look back.
Now, you’ll need to not constrain your Think Old exercise with current baggage too much. If you do that you’ll invalidate your look back. Try to erase the garbage that’s muddling up your mind these days when you jump ahead in the future to look back. You’ll be much more successful at letting the real you out.
Again, live young. Just because this exercise advocates thinking old does not mean that I’m suggesting you live like an old timer if you’re not there yet. The longer you can live young at heart, the longer you’ll live. Enjoy life while you can. Be happy and find something to smile about every day. But for a reality check and to ensure you have more happy days than not, try the Think Old exercise.