All of a sudden you realise just how fast the years can pass you by without you barely noticing. One day you are writing final school exams and planning your future and, before you blink, you are wondering just where the time has gone. Looking back can be a positive thing to do, but more often than not it brings with it a feeling of loss and sometimes deep despair and disappointment.
Every stage of life has its good points and its bad ones. We all remember times during our childhood and teenage years when we may have had unhappy events which possibly contributed towards the way in which we subsequently handled our adulthood. Parents divorcing or perhaps even having died are always catastrophic things for children to handle, and the resultant sadness can manifest itself in long-term personality issues. Feeling that you may have somehow contributed to this traumatic situation can sometimes result in feelings of guilt and lack of self-worth. Nowadays, it is customary for victims of any kind of trauma to be offered counselling, but this wasn’t the norm in the past.
So, most of us just muddle along as we grow up and try to cope with those day to day challenges which life tends to throw at us, despite any childhood problems with which we may have had to deal. Then, suddenly as the years go by, life tilts a bit more than usual and we have to face the fact that our offspring are now grown up and often living far away and our own surviving parents are elderly and frail and may need help. As we recognise the longevity of so many of our family members and acquaintances, it can cause us to start to panic regarding our own future and how we are going to survive financially.
We know for a fact that, in the western world specifically, the estimated life span of both men and women has increased dramatically over the past century. It is not uncommon these days for people to celebrate their 100th birthday whereas it used to be a wonderful achievement to be hale and hearty at 80! Insurance companies and investment specialists have jumped on the bandwagon and are hammering away at the fact that young adults need to start facing the possibility of having many retirement years for which they need to make timeous adequate provision. At the same time there is world-wide unemployment and retrenchment, so this is not always viable. More and more people are becoming their own boss and no longer is there the enforced contribution to a pension or annuity fund. If you are battling to survive in your own business, putting money away for old age may be something which is sadly neglected.
2020 with all the challenges that Covid 19 has forced us to face hasn’t made it any easier to cope with all the above factors, but there is light at the end of the tunnel in many cases. There is absolutely no reason to retire totally from doing what you enjoy doing as long as you are still capable and relatively healthy. Many people have achieved or continued to achieve greatness in their latter years. To name just a few, the first to come to mind is the world renowned Sir David Attenborough who, at 93, has recently completed a very intense documentary pertaining to the damage that we humans have caused to our planet. The British actress, Dame Maggie Smith is still being cast in acting roles despite her advanced years as are others such as Dame Judi Dench. Let us never forget the music industry with the likes of Cliff Richard, Elton John and the ageless Mick Jagger and the Rolling stones. A critical factor is to try to remain positive, despite the changes which are inevitable as one ages.
It is a tragedy to allow all the knowledge that is gleaned throughout life to be wasted. Becoming a mentor to younger people, either through actually giving talks or lectures face to face or online (more so now due to the Covid crisis), or writing a book or articles to assist students could be a way to avoid feeling redundant. It’s never too late to start a new career either. One just needs to take that brave step and give it a go. You may surprise yourself to find that a hobby you hardly had time for in the past, is now capable of becoming a vibrant and profitable business. Try to avoid the potential mistake of asking others for advice, as they will probably thwart your dreams before you even start – people often enjoy the prospect of you failing, as it makes their lives appear so much better and they probably lack your courage to do something different. Just go out and do it, and you may amaze yourself (as well as them) with your success!
Good Luck and enjoy the journey!
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we often
might win, by fearing to attempt” – William Shakespeare.