Age and aging are, I have decided, rather subjective terms. July 1st is the national day of celebration of the country I call home – Canada. At 150 years she is  either a teenager or an elder, depending on which country might be voicing its opinion.  This got me thinking about how we view getting older and what we think is possible for us in the years to come.

At 102, Margaret LeBas Howe is elderly, but she is not old. Not mentally at any rate. Recently I was privileged to hear her speak at an Age Friendly Conference. At the age of 99 she published her first book. She believes there is another to be written, she just needs to find the time.

Have ads defined your vision of successful aging?

 Age is all about perspective, don’t you think? Unfortunately, years of advertising has  created artificial boundaries to our lives. Feeding us concepts around aging that often center around the value of our careers and our bank accounts. Unfortunately we have also swallowed the age boundaries of what is possible and when. Instead of planning for our whole life, we plan for a magical time line that only exists in the advertising world. While there are biological boundaries, although those seem to be extending themselves, we are so much more than that. We are also more than our bank balance.

These days we accept the likelihood  of several jobs or even careers over our working lives. As the baby boomer generation moves more fully into the next stage, we are overdue for re-defining how to live our lives. Instead of it being “Freedom 55”, or other catchy slogan, perhaps we can re-consider how we will give to our communities and to the world.

Ideally, aging means opportunities to share knowledge and skills

There is so much thought given to earning enough to retire and so very little to what we will do with our accumulated knowledge, talents and skills. Margaret Lebas Howe wrote her book because she saw a gap in the recorded history of feminism in Canada. The boundaries were pushed long before the 60’s but those stories weren’t being told. She decided it was time.

While time on the golf course, travel, and any recreational pass times have their merit, there is so much more for us to do yet. I would even challenge you to look beyond your family. Where can your efforts contribute to their long-term benefits? Embrace perhaps the Aboriginal people’s 7th generation principle. Every decision made considers the impact of the following seven generations.

I see many people who are lost when considering what might come next in their lives. Especially when approaching the end stage of any activity – school, parenting, job. It’s unsettling because it’s a time of transition. It’s depressing if we attach age to what is possible.

A country doesn’t “retire”, it continues to evolve, or at least the good ones do. The same is true of us.

Whatever your age, make a difference

The very best thing we can do for ourselves is to keep learning and keep trying new things. To push past the boundaries of the accepted norms and to consider which goals and challenges we will work towards.  

I am fortunate to live in a country where that is possible. I know many of you do as well. So, if you are struggling with what’s next in your life, take some time and see where the world needs you. I guarantee it does, and it’s up to you to step up whatever your age, and make a difference.