When my son Tim gave me a copy of Jon Acuff’s book Start I thought the subject might have come a bit late for me, but I was wrong! I just finished the book and it’s full of motivating advice for Boomers like my husband and me who are launching Act 3 of our lives.
I also saw application for elders we all know and love. Even people in their 80s and 90s can “punch fear in the face, escape average, and do work that matters” as this author urges. With thanks to Jon Acuff (who also wrote the wildly popular, humorous book Stuff Christians Like) here’s some motivation for us all.
At any age each of us can stop living an average life and start living an awesome one. Acuff says that to get to awesome there are two questions we should ask ourselves: “If I died today, what would I regret not doing?” and “Are those the things I’m doing right now?” Younger people might have feats like running a marathon or going to medical school on the list of things they would regret not doing, but our seniors may list things like, “Call my sister in Idaho and have a nice long chat,” or “Take a walk around the block each day.” The point is to stop thinking about what you wish you were doing and begin doing it—one small step at a time.
Moving from average to awesome takes us through several stages according to Acuff. First we learn about the things that interest us, then we edit down to just what we are most passionate about. The third stage is to master one or more of our passions. Then we begin to see the fruits of our efforts; we begin to harvest. Finally, in the awesome life, one gets to the stage of guiding or mentoring others. But that’s not the time to rest on your laurels. Oh no. Once you get to guiding, then you simply start again!
When I think of the older adults I know and love, I wonder if they fully realize how much they have mastered, and how valuable and helpful it would be for them to enthusiastically share their harvest and guide others. Even if it’s how to make a pie crust or when to plant spring crops, every older person has something to share. When we encourage them to do so, we will watch them change from average to awesome right before our eyes.
Did your mother immigrate to this country as a child? Did your dad serve in World War II? Help them tell their stories to a group of school children and share some living history. Do you know an older woman who might be willing to teach someone how to crochet? The opportunities for “awesomeness” are limitless.
As longevity increases, news reports are replete with stories of people in their 90s and beyond who take their first motorcycle ride, go skydiving, or take a long anticipated vacation. But it doesn’t have to be something so dramatic to move older adults from average to awesome. Listen to what matters most to the elders you love, and help them find a way to move closer to living an awesome life. It’s never too late to start.