Unfortunately, we live in a society where it is believed that achievement of goals is for the young. It has helped to create a mindset that life has passed us by once we reach a certain age. Recently, I had the pleasure to engage several middle-age people in conversations regarding next steps in their lives. Now that these individuals are closer to retirement years, they appear to no longer see the value in the pursuit of personal goals. They view reaching retirement as a period in life when you accept that you have done your best and no longer strive for other goals to achieve. I find it difficult to accept reaching a point in life where you only look forward to having your basic needs (food, clothing, and shelter) met and exist from day to day waiting for death to arrive. I feel these people still have so much knowledge, talent, and experience that could be used to achieve much more in life.
Think of all the great achievements and accomplishments by people who were considered beyond their prime. For instance, like his politics or not, we must give Donald Trump credit for setting a goal to become president of the United States at age 70 and doing it. While many of his peers were most likely content to enjoy the benefits of their wealth, he decided to set a new goal of being President. There are other examples of people who continued to find success later in life:
- Ray Kroc was 52 when he bought the first McDonald's, which he ultimately built into the world’s largest fast food chains.
- Harland Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders, was 62 when he franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken. He sold the franchise business for $2 million 12 years later.
- Harriette Thompson, age 94, set a goal to become the oldest woman to complete a half-marathon, two years after she became the oldest woman to finish a marathon in San Diego. In 2016 — she did it. She finished the 13.1 miles at a pace of just over 17 minutes per mile and finishing in an unofficial time of 3 hours, 42 minutes and 56 seconds.
There are several reasons why people should continue to pursue goals as they age. Research has shown that goal setting is critical to maintaining a sense of meaning in our lives. It also helps to keep the mind sharp and focused. Most of all having goals keeps us youthful and vibrant because:
- Life is for living- Morgan Freeman had a line in the movie Shawshank Redemption where he says, "Get busy living or get busy dying”. Having goals at whatever the age gives us a reason to keep on living.
- It ain’t over until it’s over- don’t worry about past missed opportunities or failures. If we are breathing and fortunate to have good health, there is still time to accomplish whatever we desire. Never good up on yourself until your last breath is gone.
- We need a purpose for living- goals move us ever so closer to fulfilling our true purpose in life. To awake each morning with something to look forward to gives us hope. Otherwise, it’s like being a dried-up grape on the vine that has lost its purpose for living.
- The human spirit strives on new challenges- you don’t have to run for president, start a business or run a marathon. However, what’s stopping you from improving or getting into the best physical condition that you can? Start a new hobby or find a new passion to make use of your knowledge, skills, and talents.
- We control the power to maximize our potential- when we depart this physical world our mantra should be “Used Up”. Our lives should reflect that we spent every waking moment striving to live up to our full potential. Let it be known that we left nothing on the table.
I encourage my middle age peers to keep living. As we move from one stage of life to the next, it’s important to set our sights on new horizons and goals to pursue. The continuous accomplishment of new goals will keep us excited about living.
Written by Dr. RL Kight for Mind Power Solutions.