Should I Age Willingly and Gracefully, or Fight It Every Step of the Way?

Filed in Living by on March 17, 2016 0 Comments

There aren’t many things that everyone has in common, but one is that we are all aging. So this post is relevant to all of you, whether you’re willing to admit it or not!

I often notice sad examples of people who are trying to fight too hard against the sands of time. There has been an exponential increase in cosmetic plastic surgery over the past couple of decades. Some of it might be helpful, but most of it looks ridiculous. How do people look after they’ve had plastic surgery? Like they’ve had plastic surgery.

Then there is the other end of the spectrum, the people who have entirely given up: smoking, 50 lbs. overweight, and wearing a stained shirt to the mall. These people are a mess, so this is also not the answer.

So which is it? Should we fight tooth and nail to retain our youth, or just let time take its toll? I think it depends on what aspect of ourselves we are talking about, so I will address the issue in three categories:

Fight as Hard as You Can

I think it is worthwhile to do all that you reasonably can to stay healthy and fit as you age. If you can be a non-smoker, use alcohol in moderation, maintain a healthy weight, keep your heart and lungs fit, and stay physically strong and flexible, you will have a much more active and enjoyable life, and you will probably also live longer.

Willingly Succumb

At the other end of the spectrum, there are also some things you might want to simply accept and not fight. I would put in this category: normal, age-related wrinkles and sagging; increased need for rest during the day and sleep at night; men’s gray and thinning hair; and, women’s gray hair, if you are comfortable with the look.

50/50

This is the longest list, those things that you might want to take some control over and change a bit, but are not worth fighting too hard for or trying to change too radically:

  • Plastic surgery – This is a highly subjective area, and you should do whatever you feel comfortable with and makes you happy. Some people are either highly self-conscious about some aspect of their body, or feel that they simply deserve and would love to make some improvement. If either of these are the case with you, then by all means do it. Just remember that with plastic surgery, usually the less, the better.
  • Clothes – As you get older, the “middle ground” of staying in style, yet in a classy and age-appropriate way, seems the best course of action. You don’t want to dress too trendy or “young,” like your teenaged son or daughter, nor do you want to be seen wearing sweat pants every day.
  • Career – When you are in your 50’s, should you continue to fight every day for promotions, so you can get the proverbial “brass ring,” or should you just tread water until retirement? Again, I think a middle ground is likely best: work hard and diligently, but do not expect that you will completely change your career trajectory at this late stage.
  • Social and recreational life – As you age and have less energy, there is a strong incentive to be less active. My wife and I have experienced this in the last couple of years. We’ll be on a cruise vacation, and decide to head back to our stateroom after dinner and a show, around 10:00PM, so we can just put on our pajamas and read in bed. This can actually be quite enjoyable. Yet, every now and then, we decide we want to “kick it old school,” so we will stay out at a bar on the ship all the way until midnight. I know, we’re pretty crazy! I guess the bottom line for us is that we most often choose to go with something low key, which is what we enjoy at this point in our lives, and don’t worry too much about “acting young” or trying to recreate our past.

I’m sure I neglected to mention many aspects of aging, but hopefully this post has given you some food for thought. In some aspects of your life you may decide to fight like hell to hang onto or regain your youth. Yet, it is also quite alright to just simply act your age!

About the Author ()

TIM MCINTYRE retired in 2004 from his position as president of Applied Systems after facilitating a successful sale of the company. At only forty-six years old, he made the unusual decision to fully retire to pursue other interests and simply enjoy free time. As a hard-driving Type A personality, this turned out to be a significant challenge for the Notre Dame and University of Chicago-educated MBA, CPA, and Certified Cash Manager.

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