What Matters Most? (Part 3): Viewpoint of Septuagenarians (and older)

Summary: “Learn from those who already know what you are hopefully going to know someday.”  

When preparing to write his book The Power of Purpose, author Richard Leider interviewed hundreds of people in their 70s and 80s (and followed up in subsequent years interviewing more people each year) and asked a simple question: “If you could live your life over again, what would you change?” Most of his responses fell into one of three categories:

  1. I would see the big picture.
  2. I would be more courageous.
  3. I would make more of a positive difference.

I’m not a member of that age bracket yet, but I am close enough to it, and have lived long enough, to understand these three comments.

I would see the big picture: Mr. Leider’s subjects often said, “they were so busy living day-to-day that they truly missed living their lives.” I personally hear people talk about wanting to eliminate, or at least minimize, busyness all the time. They want relief from a treadmill-like life experience. They want to focus on what is important and escape from reactive-responsive/crisis mode living.

I would be more courageous: One of the main issues here was to take more creative risk in life, especially when it comes to finding work and activities that were more meaningful to them.

I would make more of a positive difference: Unfortunately, everyone you interact with on a regular basis either energizes and uplifts you, or drains your energy. The interviewees seemed to want to operate in a way that would make all who encountered them think – “I am better off because I met that person.”

These seem like simple, and doable, things to me. However, I don’t think it is a good idea to wait until you are a septuagenarian to begin working on them. If you haven’t already done so, why not begin now? It seems like a good way to joyfully participate in life.

Joyfully participate in life today…Chris

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