Aging “With Purpose”

I have been reading With Purpose (Going from Success to Significance in Work and Play) a book by Ken Dychtwald, PH.D.   This author specializes in the study of aging, maturity and retirement.   A few months ago I read his book The Power Years and thought is was one of the better shall we say, Baby Boomer books that I have read.   I kept that book for future reference.

With Purpose begins with the author’s eight page Introduction letting the reader know about his long history and lifetime study of aging, beginning in his early twenties at a time when not much attention was paid to the older folks. With the demographic Age Wave finally here, the author’s insights are indeed interesting and exciting I found.  Some of the interesting items in the book deal with:

1. Our concept of age is changing.  In a single generation, sixty-two went from “such a long life”, to “he died so young”.  I find that relevant, since I am age 62 and agree with the latter.

2. The author is convinced that life’s prolonged second half will provide an opportunity for people to chart a new course. People are going back to school, starting a new business, finding new passions, falling in love again, re-building their health.

3. People want to stay engaged longer.  Mental stimulation and making a contribution are the reasons with money down the list.

4. The author projects that the age wave with make it increasing challenging for governments and pensions and that we are seeing a seismic shift from entitlement to financial self-reliance.  (Note: he got that right!)

OK, so much for the Introduction

5. The first chapter includes the author describing how the maturing Boomer can turn their lives from success to significance.  The author asks When is the last time you did something significant, did something for someone else for the greater good and didn’t expect something in return?  Speaking of purpose, only by giving back – is true fulfillment possible.

6. In one study of aging the author did, some elders biggest regret looking back on their life was “the great amounts of time they had spent going through life on autopilot, doing what was expected – as so many of us do almost without thought”.   The author  reminds us that some part of us ought to be constantly looking ahead – to when you’ll be looking back at the decisions you made along the way.  Good point.

7. So the concept of success needs an overhaul for the next phase of our lives.  Maybe it shouldn’t be about money and advancement; maybe it should be about personal growth, contribution to the greater good, warm relationships, genuine happiness, and finding purpose in everything you do.

Then there’s the story of Randy Pausch who dying of cancer gave his last lecture to a group of students with an inspiring message of hope, patience, and no regrets.  His message included included:  Loyalty is two way street, he said.  Never give up. Accept help and give it. Tell the truth.  Apologize when you screw up.  Focus on others, not yourself.  Don’t bail.  Don’t complain, work harder.   Shut up and listen.  Be good at something because it makes you more valuable.   Work hard.   Be patient and you’ll find the best in everybody.   Dream.   Be prepared.  Mr. Pausch’s hour long lecture was his last.  He found his purpose as this speech went viral on the Internet and has inspired many, including me.