At almost 59, the chances are, I have gone further than I have to go; which is an uneasy way of saying my mortality isn’t all that far away. A piece of reality but disturbing—didn’t I just start college?

The future will certainly hold a grocery cart of possibilities; from wonderful and exciting to devastating. But as I walk the path ahead, I begin to think in terms of “controllables” and “uncontrollables”.

 

Those items I can control are items like: my savings vs. spending, what I eat, my focus on family, friends, work and other interests. The items which I cannot control would be things like, health (only controllable to a limited degree), the economy and by extension-the stock markets, interest rates and the price of gasoline.

The future is in front of me and the path I’ve walked behind. What did I learn and how can I use it to make today and ultimately tomorrow better?  Let me share a few quick thoughts I’ve learned most closely connected to the financial side of life:

1. Living your values is important.  What are you doing to make sure you use your time, talent and treasure for the things that matter most?  What does your calendar and checkbook say about your values?

2. Money you spend today is not going to be there tomorrow.  It is very important to make each decision count.  Seek out a good financial planner if you don’t already have one.

3. Poor money habits will not change themselves.  If you haven’t had good patterns of money management, now is the time to make a change. It takes understanding, determination and the will to change. Take a class like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University or something similar.

4. Life balance and money balance are often synonymous. What are you doing to make sure you have balance and the right priorities in every area of your life?  Seek out mentors that can help you in each area of physical, emotional, spiritual, relational and financial health.

5. The greater your resilience the better the chances you will be able to adapt to the unknowns.  Flexibility is one of the critcal traits needed to navigate unknown paths.  If you build margin into your life in terms of money, time and physical stamina, it can make all the difference in the world. If you constantly run flat out, stressed out and nearly on empty, you will have trouble adjusting to the uncertain twists and turns that life brings.

As you walk into your future, how well are you positioned to live the next phase of your life according to your dreams, goals and values?

QUESTION: Which one of the five points above to you need to concentrate on first?  Please share your comment below.

 

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful — that’s what matters to me.” (Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple in CNNMoney/Fortune, 1993).  What matters most to you at the end of the day?

I’m not trying to be morbid or a Debbie Downer. But death is a part of life you know. As a pastor, I’ve led hundreds of memorial services. I always use that time to challenge the living to think about what matters most. Here’s four things I often say:

  1. We All Die – However, whenever, wherever it happens will vary, but it’s one appointment we will not miss.  King Solomon wrote, “Death is the destiny of every man” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).  We should never forget that we all die.  Remembering this truth should shape how we live.
  2. Life is Short at It’s Longest – Whether it’s a young, middle-age or elderly person, it seems we are never quite ready to let our loved ones go.  We usually wish we had more time with them.  The dash between our date of arrival and departure is very short.  The big question is, how are you living your dash?
  3. Some Things Are More Important Than Other Things – The death of a family member or close friend always teaches us about priorities.  We often wish we had made an effort to see the person one more time or we may regret something we said or did. If we are faced with our own death or someone close to us, we quickly realize that some things we invested a lot of energy in just don’t matter all that much.
  4. God Cares About Us – He didn’t just create us to exist for a few decades and deteriorate to dust. God’s care includes forming us as body, soul and spirit. He designed us to live with purpose and meaning. He breathed His own image into our eternal spirits.  Even more profound, God invites us into an intimate relationship with Him, now and forever.

What matters most to you? Are the things you will invest in and dedicate your life to this week of the highest priority in light of eternity? What does your calendar and checkbook say about what you’ve put at the top of the list? Will it seem important five or twenty-five years from now? What would those who are closest to you say about your priorities? Are you investing your time, talent and treasure in what matters most?

QUESTION: What is one of your top priorities in life? Please share it in the comment section.

 

Do you know that modifiable lifestyle factors can add years to your life?  Of course you do.  At least we all know that certain bad habits can shorten our lives.  There was a revealing study published in the British Medical Journal that was done in Stockholm, Sweden.  The residents in the Kungsholmen district who were age 75 and older, were followed up over 18 years.  Half of the 75 year olds lived to be 90.  Do you know the key things which determined who lived and who died?

 

Here’s the deal.  Of the 2,368 people living in the studied area, 87% agreed to participate.  The usual factors like medical illness, smoking and heavy use of alcohol affected lifespan.  But you may be surprised by a few of the things that extended their time on earth.  Here are three key areas:

Physical activity – no big surprise here. People who regularly walk, swim, stretch, bicycle and stay active live two years longer than those who become sedentary.

People having a rich social environment makes a big difference.  People to interact with, hobbies that involve others, going to concerts with friends and other socializing activities, all demonstrate a marked increase to our lifespan.

Productivity – activities like housekeeping, sewing, yard work or doing volunteer work, give a huge boost toward lengthening our days.  Anything that has intentionality and purpose to it, has a direct impact on both a meaningful and longer existence.

God has intricately designed us.  Our human bodies are devised to rebuild and regenerate throughout life.  Our lifestyles markedly improve or worsen our chances of our bodies doing what they were intended to do. In this study, most notably, a group that had already survived to age 75, their choices made a significant difference in health, vitality and longetivity.

How you live, affects how well and how long you’ll live—at any age. Lifespan is about lifestyle—and for most of us, it’s under our personal control.  So what is one step you could take today to make a difference tomorrow?

QUESTION:  Which of the three P’s (Physical Activity, People, Productivity) is the easiest for you and which one is the hardest?  Share your comment below.

In 2011, the first of the baby boom generation reached what used to be known as retirement age. And for the next 17 years, boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day. As this unique group grows older, it will likely transform the institutions of aging — just as it has done to other aspects of American life. In unprecedented numbers we are asking, What Now?

The reality is, traditional retirement is nearly out of breath as lifetimes grow longer. And with the economic downturn of the last few years, retirement at the traditional 65 is not financially possible for many.  For others, the idea of 30 or more years of unproductive time is scary. So many boomers have pushed the decision out into the future. Consequently, we can enter the new world of the third third of life without a plan or a purpose.

Dr. George Vaillant concluded in his work with the Harvard Study of Adult Development there are four personal characteristics which enrich our travel through life:

  1. HOPEan orientation toward tomorrow with anticipation and planning
  2. THANKFULNESSembracing gratitude and forgiveness
  3. EMPATHY and LOVEthe ability to see the world through others’ eyes
  4. ENGAGEMENTa desire to do things with people

While these four personal characteristics are important for the entire path of life, they are critically important for those age 50 and beyond!  Without anticipation of the path ahead, gratitude, empathy and a connection with others, older adults can soon slide into a funk. Studies have shown that people who retire at 55 are 89% more likely to die within ten years when compared to those who retire at 65.  It would be interesting to know if there is a correlation between the loss of hope and orientation for the future and a decline of engagement with others?

One of my favorite scriptures comes to mind, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

Do you have a plan for the future? Are you living with hope?  Are you experiencing gratitude and forgiveness in your daily journey? Are you seeking to build love and empathy into all of your relationships? Are you walking the journey with others? If you are missing out on one or more of these four, what is one thing you could change today?

QUESTION: What are you doing to stay hopeful, thankful, empathetic and engaged?  Share it below in the comment section.

Paul Gingerich

Earlier this year, I lost a friend, a brother.  We actually both have the same last name—but I grew up in Oregon and he in Pennsylvania.  Yet we both married into the same family, just six months apart.  So, we are brother in-laws.  Paul was an eloquent wordsmith.  Last year, while challenged with life-threatening cancer, he wrote, “I have trouble with the thought of making a ‘Bucket List.’ This term projects the demise of one’s life and the desire to fill one’s life with hoped-for events before one ‘kicks the bucket’ and opportunities are lost.  A bucket invites a downward gaze, the focus of a ‘Ladder List’ directs one’s in an upward direction.”

You may have a bucket list.  But have you ever thought of a making a ladder list?  If Paul still had an earthly address, he would be the first person I would ask to be a guest blogger. I love his values, his writing, his witty humor and so much more.  In fact, Paul did some blogging for the famous Lehman’s Hardware store in tiny rural Kidron, Ohio where he taught high school for 30 years.

Here’s what my brother in-law Paul Gingerich said are the elements he would include on his ladder list:

  • Tangible acts of sacrifice for others

  • Supportive, relationally-focused activities that enhance family

  • Love for others

  • Generously giving life to those less fortunate

  • And…directing
 praise to God. 

Paul went on to write, “My Ladder List has a ‘bottom-up’ kind of focus.  It is open-ended and 
sacrificial. Its goal is to build up, restore and encourage.  I give
 credit to the Apostle Paul for this upside down, ladder list perspective
 on the future.  In Philippians 3:14, Paul highlights this inverted
 perspective. He says, ‘I press on toward the goal to win the prize for
 which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’  The focus is upward
 and there is movement. I’m going to start writing my ladder list and keep looking up!”
 Love To All, 
–Paul

We live in a world where we are taught to be self-sufficient, to seek and demand the best for ourselves.  But even before his cancer and transition to eternal life at age 59, Paul was climbing a different ladder than most career-focused men. Paul concentrated on serving others, supportive relationships and sharing generously.  His two and a half year journey with cancer allowed him to put into text something he was already living.  And for me–and thousands of others he has influenced–Paul challenged me to live for a ladder instead of a bucket.

QUESTION: What is on your Ladder List?  Please share it in the comment section below!

To celebrate our 50th birthdays, my wife and I (along with our three adult children and daughter in-love) went skydiving. Mike, my skydiving instructor, gave me his philosophy on life when he said, “If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space.”  I’ve pondered that line many times since.

Many of us gravitate toward playing it safe as we get older.  We take less and less risk.  We envy the young who seem to have little fear of danger.  And if we do take a risk, we find ourselves carefully calculating the outcome before we jump.

But here’s what I’ve been learning. Taking on a fresh challenge, learning a new skill or traveling to a different cultural environment is when I grow the most and find the deepest fulfillment.  In reality, the really important stuff happens when I’m outside my comfort zone.

If that’s true, what can you do to increase your travels outside the comfort zone?  Let me suggest a few.
  1. Realize Risk is a Good Thing.  The reality is—we move toward things we value.  If we regularly proclaim that getting out of our comfort zone is a good thing, the more likely we are to actually takes risks.
  2. Face your Fears. If you feel anxiety when trying something new or different, you are normal. However, you don’t have to be controlled by anxiety and fear.  Mark Twain said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”  Often, the ability to push through fear is the only thing that separates those who succeed from those who fail. That is true at every age.
  3. Take the First Step. When we were younger, we were more spontaneous and sometimes just crazy daring.  With little experience, it was hard to predict every thing that might go wrong so we just pushed forward. The downside of having lots of experience is that we tend to overthink a new adventure and imagine all the possibilities for calamity. We want a detailed map to the destination.  Maybe we just need to take the first step we can see clearly and then have the faith we will have the light to see the next step when we need to.
  4. Just Jump. I had anticipated skydiving for years.  But when it came right down to it and the flight master opened the door at 13,500 feet, I was secretly hoping I could kind of just slide into the sky like getting into a cold swimming pool. But when we got to the open door, Mike counted “one, two, three” and I jumped outside of my comfort zone. It was amazingly freeing and exhilarating to free fall at 125 mph for 9,000 feet!  I want to do it again when I turn 60!

William Trogdon said, “There are two kinds of adventurers: those who go truly hoping to find adventure and those who go secretly hoping they won’t.” Living on the edge inspires us, stretches us, grows us and moves us to greater accomplishments. If you are out to accomplish significant things in your life, you are going to be spending a lot of time outside your comfort zone.

QUESTION: When was the last time you moved outside your comfort zone but, in retrospect, were glad you did? Please leave a comment below!

 

 

 

When my friend Cathy turned 60 last week, she posted on Facebook, “Aging is like the newest version of a software. It has a bunch of great new features, but…..you lose all the cool features the original version had.”  I’m about a year behind Cathy and I completely understand her reflections on aging.

Welcome This posting launches my new blog designed to inspire transformissional living in adults over 50.  Now, some of you think there’s a typo.  You’re thinking, “Doesn’t he mean transformational?”  No, I mean transformissional.  And for the record, my spell checker doesn’t like that word.  My mission is to inspire transformation–change, renovation and a makeover in the thinking and practice of older adults.  In addition, I envision all the ways our world could be transformed if every adult over 50 would be missional– intentional, purposeful, focused, decisive and determined in the way they live out the best years of their life!  Therefore, I deliberately use this combined word.

Observation – Here’s what I’ve observed among some of my peers, as they move past 50.  They often start coasting and drifting and develop a “back in the good old days” mindset.  And let’s be honest, we do get anxious about this new uncharted territory ahead of us.  Some of us fear being irrelevant and pushed to the curb by the younger generations.  Along with the realities of aging: health issues, uncertain finances, declining parents and a changing world—life can be challenging.  This blog is designed to inspire maturing adults to live with intentionality and leave a significant legacy—honoring the past, celebrating the present with an eager eye toward the future.

Looking Ahead – Sure, we do lose some of the features of the original version but, I’m discovering with my friend Cathy, there are a lot of great new features and possibilities as we live the second half or the third third.  I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore relevant topics like Lifelong Learning, Living With No Regret, Thriving in the Third Third, Bucket List or Ladder List? Success to Significance, Dealing With Aging Parents, Second Half Game Plan, Retire or Retread? Beyond Work, and so much more!  I hope you will share your ideas and feedback in the Comments section.  We will learn from each other.  And, please share the link www.DennisGingerich.com with your friends and family.  I’m so enthusiastic about our future together, how about you?

Question: What additional topics would you like see covered?  Please leave your Comment below!

On October 1st, I’m launching a new blog designed to inspire transformissional living in adults over 50.  Sign up to receive yours by email.

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