"Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be." --- Robert Browning
Robert Browning was not just being poetic, he was referring to the world of possibilities that senior years can bring. Over the course of life, one’s true self tends to come second in a long list of firsts towards your family, education and career. Retirement is that opportunity to reconnect with yourself, to aspire and spread your wings yet again. In the words of 73 year old Dr Irfan Sheikh (Gurgaon), “I was free for the first time in my life to do as I pleased. From the first day of school, through to university and a career, the necessities of life were regulated by forces outside of one’s control. Now I had control.”
At SeniorWorld, we have had the privilege of meeting many remarkable seniors who are redefining retirement and their senior years - 95 year old Yoga teacher, an 84-year old who became an entrepreneur at the age of 68,a 71-year old sportswoman who got into sports at age 56 - the list is endless.
While they all have diverse backgrounds and chose to pursue different passions, they have some remarkable things in common. We call these 6 keys to unlock your golden years.
Prioritize your health– and then forget about it!
Sounds contradictory? Well, the point is simple. Do everything you can to be healthy and fit, and indeed be very diligent and careful about what your body tells you. If you have not given fitness that much attention in the past, it is never too late. Take baby steps and start. Go for walks, do yoga, get timely health check-ups done and maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, do not let aches or pains or any illness take over your life and become the centre piece of your existence. One can take inspiration from 84-year old entrepreneur Yamini Majumdar who has continued working on her venture despite having suffered a stroke, severe arthritis, etc. “Self-pity is the worst affliction. One is as old and as capable as one wishes to be”, she says.
Two magic words to get positivity back
No doubt life would have offered both roses and thorns, and when you get to your senior years you would have experiences and relationships that are both sweet and bitter. What happy seniors have discovered and mastered are the magic two words - “letting go”.
Get rid of negative emotions and feelings that are stopping you from living your life fully and are also coming in the way of your relationships and mental and physical well being. Do not feel burdened, feel light and joyous and the way to do that is to forgive yourself and others, and let go.
Do what you love
Mumbai-based Deepak Amembal, a 61-year old professional retired from Air India, revived his love for biking after a gap of 25 years and embarked on a 72-day bike journey across India. And he is hypertensive and a diabetic. Deepak says “There are no excuses for not following your passions”
Many retired people are taking up teaching underprivileged students for free. Mrs Snehlata Hoodagets her energy and sense of fulfilment from teaching under privileged children in Gurgaon in a makeshift school by the roadside. The school caters to over 150 children of domestic workers, daily wage labourers, and other underprivileged strata of society.
Experience flow and the magic of life by doing one thing that you love. It could be gardening, experimenting in cooking, creating music, writing, playing a sport, doing service for others – just anything that makes you feel alive and happy when you do it.
Break Free - in your mind
A lot of us live our lives thinking about what other people may feel or think about us. Don’t let 'what will people think' be the yardstick to decide what you will do or not do.
Fauja Singh was called a “Danda” (Punjabi word for stick) by his village folks all through his childhood because of his extremely thin legs. In fact, he learnt to walk properly only by age 10. He picked up running in his 80’sto alleviate the pain of losing his wife and son. This, when people his age with the same sorrows would succumb to the negativity. Today, he is a world-renowned marathon runner who has broken records of fastest runners in the 90+ category. It’s important to find your own path of happiness, regardless of what the world says.
Learn something new
It is said, "It isn’t old age that makes one stop learning, but it’s the end of learning that makes one old". Retirement offers you a great opportunity to pursue a long forgotten hobby or pick a new one. Many universities are opening up to the idea of older students. Pune University recently accepted 56 students over the age of 60 in their PhD program.The world of mass open online courses (MOOC) is available to anyone at the click of a button from leading universities of the world with video and audio lessons. Your grandkids could open up the world of gaming on computers for you, and the neighbourhood music teacher could drop by to give you the tabla lessons you always wanted.
You have the right to enjoy your money.
The first right on your hard-earned savings & your property is your own. Use it for yourself you deserve it. Go for a vacation to a place that you have always dreamt of going to; buy something that you have always wanted. Don’t let guilt or the thought that you are spending your children’s inheritance hold you back. And senior advice is that do not give away your money or property while you are alive.
If you are tight on liquidity but have a house of your own, there are there are options like reverse mortgage provided by most major banks - which provide the security of living in your own house while simultaneously providing you with additional cash every month.Try these 6 keys and watch them unlock your golden years for you. The magic, after all, has just begun