Golden Years: Big Gain in the Future

Have you ever thought about how long you want to live? Most people I know want to live to a good old age as long as they have their mind and can take care of basic daily needs. Most people are more afraid of having a debilitating stroke than a crippling heart attack.

Nobody really enjoys thinking about our golden years and how we want to end our time hear on earth. Our future selves will thank us if we do start thinking and planning for our golden years. I had a patient tell me the only thing golden about his golden years was the front of his underwear!

The problem for most of us is that we are always going to start tomorrow, and tomorrow really never gets here. I judge other people by what they do, but I tend to judge myself by what I intend to do. I have really good intentions like learning Spanish, but . . . I will start tomorrow!

I want to encourage you today to start thinking about the “future you” and consider developing a plan to not only “go long” but to thrive. I do think it is possible to make some small changes now for big gains in the future.

I am currently reading a book, The Longevity Project, and have found it fascinating. It is based on a study started by Dr. Terman in 1921. He started following thousands of California children in grade school. He developed an extensive questionnaire for the kids, their parents, and their teachers. He wanted to look at personalities and see which ones tended to be more successful in health and life. He followed them until he retired and then others took up his work. All of the participants are now deceased.

The main takeaway from the book is that “Personality is an excellent predictor of health and longevity, often in counterintuitive ways.” It was not the carefree, "enjoy life, grab all the gusto while you can" personality type that lived the longest or for that matter was the happiest. “The findings clearly revealed that the best childhood personality predictor of longevity was conscientiousness—the qualities of a prudent, persistent, well-organized person, like a scientist-professor—somewhat obsessive and not at all carefree.”

Our personalities are difficult to change, but with some thoughtful effort we can make some differences. I tend to be an introvert. (My family may say to the extreme.) I can, however, function as an extrovert. It is not my natural self, but I can pull it off for a while. I think the same is true with other parts of our personalities.

I want to encourage you to think about your golden years and start coming up with a plan.