I thought I’d share some tips for fighting off the inevitability of old age. Of course I’m posting this not as a narcissist but as a coach helping you to be an effective human right up until the point you call it quits and become worm food. Being 46 years young I’ve hit the point where my education plus world experience can be put to its best use from a work/life perspective. BUT… to keep myself in tip-top shape requires the adoption of certain habits that stop the decline (physical, mental) that comes with getting older.
So here are the three things that have made a significant difference to my ability to do good work. Significant is defined as “doing this resulted in a step-change (as opposed to incremental improvement) in my effectiveness”.
The spiritual aspect of meditating aside, this practice has allowed me to witness myself stuffing up my own life. With the self-awareness that meditating provides I have been able to see how I get in the way of my own success, how I should spend more time getting my own shit together before I try and fix others. Working in the field of human performance I’ve been exposed to most theories and practices on self-improvement and I can say nothing comes close to meditation as a self-development tool. The reason people find it hard is because it is not a linear experience. What I mean by this is it is not like going to a one-day workshop, reading the course notes doing the self-help exercises and “voila!” you are a better person. Meditation is best described using the metaphor of walking in a misty rain. You do not notice you are getting wet but after a while you becomes soaked to the bone. Most people want to get a result quickly (tip a bucket of water over their head), but meditating does not work like that; its a slow burn benefit program. I sit daily for up to 45 min and have been for 6 years and have now reached the point where it is central to me being the best human I can be.
It has been proven that you can teach old brains new tricks. To maintain my brain’s abilities and work on the functions of my brain that under-perform I use scientifically researched neuroscience brain-training. Working out my brain is not only fun but has big payoffs in terms of quickness and flexibility of thinking under pressure. It keeps me sharp even on my “bad” days. I’ve never endorsed any service provider but in this instance I would recommend you look at Lumosity as a place to try some brain-training and explore the world of neuroscience. I spend about 5 minutes a day keeping my brain sharp and the website prepares what your brain needs to improve by creating a daily workout (very cool).
Yoga gets you back into your body, grounds you and connects your psycho-spiritual self to your physical body. It integrates the mind-body-spirit with one aim; to help you be a more “in-balance” person, not be swayed and perturbed by life, improving your ability to take things as they come to you. Yoga makes you more resilient physically and mentally. If you have never been to yoga and think it is for hippies, well think again; its very much mainstream and is used by elite athletes, business people and of course hippies. I do a little yoga daily and attend a class 1-2 x per week. It is like a mini check-up, showing me where I’m out of alignment, constricted, blocked or weak.
What about you?
I think you should consider how you will maintain your awesomeness as you age. The above three things are my current things, you will have yours. You may paint, power-walk, do Tai-Chi, bushwalk, line-dance as your practices to maintain your effectiveness in work-life. But the one thing I would say is that these activities should be done as self-care practices and not recreational “fun” forms of entertainment (although you may have fun doing them, that’s not why you do them). What I mean by this is that these activities should be essential to your lifestyle and be done irrespective of whether you “feel” like it. For me I do not need convincing of the value of these activities. I just “know” they are good for me and support all the things I’m trying to do in my life. Therefore if I don’t do these practices I’m letting myself and the world down by not being at my best through making a small investment of time/effort.