Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of articles with advice that people would give to their former or younger selves. Most of these lists make sense and have the usual, “save money” and “stop caring about what others think” and often indicate some regret in their chosen paths. Being in my mid-twenties and already following a lot of advice from the old and wise, I started thinking about whether there is any advice I’d give to my future self. What have I seen in others change as they grow older? Here’s the advice I hope I can follow – not only when I reach my twilight years…
Keep up with technology. In the office, I’ve come across a lot of interesting people who, as experienced individuals, have shared the wisdom they’ve collected over the years. On the flip side, I’ve come across a lot of people who are resistant to stay up to date with the latest technology and software – often choosing to stick with the legacy. Faced with an unfamiliar system or process, they will resist learning how to use it and instead ask, whether it can be done in the way that they’ve done so before. I feel that this is a waste of time and that I shouldn’t have to revert to old, clunky techniques so that a colleague can stick to what she knows instead of learning the new process. Whenever my old boss asked me to do something I’d never done before and gave me no instructions, I’d often find myself on Google or a Youtube tutorial. When help is readily available, there really is no reason you can’t learn to use the latest technology especially if it reduces the amount of time it takes to do something.
Question my habits. This is similar to the above in terms of embracing the new. I can already see how little I question my habits today and I’m only 25! When I was 18, I was much more receptive to advice on habits and I think as you get older, you seek the route of most comfort to you instead of embracing a new way of doing things. Either that or you become convinced that ‘you know better’.
Listen to the opinions of the next generation. It’s hard not to feel you ‘know much more than the younger generation’ when you have so many years on them, but there is always value in new opinions and injecting fresh blood into any community. Yes, some of their suggestions may seem wacky and not ones you would have gotten away with having when you were younger, but there’s immense value in at least listening to them and trying to understand their point of view.
Be tolerant. To be tolerant, you need to let go of your preconceptions. Stick to your values, but don’t be so rigid in them that you can’t open your mind to other ways of living. If your neighbour wants to paint their entire house yellow and you think it looks garish, mind your own business. If it’s not hurting you or anyone else physically, there’s no need to kick up a fuss.
Maintain an active social life. Join a lunch club and try and invite friends over for tea. If you’ve lost touch with many of your friends, be open to making new ones. If you act on the first point, you should have no trouble using the latest technology to help you find events you can attend and meet new people.
Stay active. You could combine this point with the point above and socialise via dance classes. Staying active may be tougher with a weaker body than you had in your 40s, but it doesn’t mean you should become completely inactive.
Have a health emergency fund. You’ve had an emergency fund for years already, but have you devoted a significant amount of money to an operation or potential complication with your health? Nobody likes to think they’ll lose the ability to function fully. Plan for the worst whilst hoping for the best. Continuing to heed this advice well into your 60s, 70s and 80s will mean you continue to have that peace of mind.
Downsize the home. If I am fortunate enough to have a large family, I’ll inevitably be stuck with a large house years after all the children have left. Moving house can be complicated when I get immobile, but sentimentality can keep many old people from moving early enough. I hope that I downsize whilst I’m still able to both emotionally and physically.
I hope that on my 70th birthday, I find this article and realise that I don’t need it.