And 80 is the new 60. These new mantras have replaced the old paradigm where 40 was “middle-aged,” 50 was “old” and 60 was “dead,” give or take a few years.
When I retired at 60 from my full-time work as CEO of a multinational ad agency partnership, I never saw a clear demarcation between working full time and being “retired.” I was still doing many of the professional things I used to do, but this time I chose to help institutions with more direct social relevance. So I was happy to contribute to the marketing efforts of such entities as St. Paul University, Asian Hospital and the Department of Tourism.
Having more free time also gave me the opportunity to indulge my long neglected passion for writing poetry. Since then, I have been able to publish three books, the proceeds from which have been used to fund the educational foundation I put up just before I retired.
For almost two decades now, this foundation has been providing scholarships and other student services to young people who would otherwise not be able to pursue their education.
I have also accepted the presidency of United Poets Laureate International, an international poetry organization which holds a world poetry congress in a different country every two years.
In my younger years, I had engaged in many sports. I took up martial arts, went up the belt ranks, and thereafter became an instructor. In my 30s, I got into running, both long distance and on the track up to my 50s, and I’ve enjoyed winning many medals and trophies in this sport I loved the most.
To this day, I run for fitness and recreation.
Throughout my working years, and after retirement, I also became a practical shooting enthusiast, an avid tennis player, and, hopefully, a lifelong golfer.
But when I finally retired, with a driver to get me around, I was beginning to feel sluggish and complacent. I was looking for something new to keep my reflexes and my concentration sharp.
One day, looking out of my car window, I saw a young woman zooming along in traffic on a motorcycle. I said to myself, “If she can do it, I see no reason I can’t.”
That day in my 60s was the beginning of my new passion and journey (literally)—motorcycling.
Since then, I have ridden to many parts of the Philippines with my riding buddies in BOSS (BMW Owners’ Society of Saferiders), which I headed for several years. Today, I ride alone on shorter rides and, hopefully, this will go on for more years.
The point of this article is to inspire other seniors to continue enriching their golden years with an active lifestyle, physically, mentally or socially, according to their capacity, making those years truly golden in terms of enjoyment, fulfillment and memorability.
For now, let me just share three key things I have learned which, hopefully, will serve as major tips to other seniors in search of more fulfillment in their “twilight,” but which I prefer to call “highlight” years.
1 Discover a new passion or nurture an existing one, an activity which you will eagerly look forward to doing regularly and often. Or, if you already have one since you were younger, devote more time to it, expand it, and set new goals for yourself in pursuing it. Achieving every new goal becomes a memorable and motivating milestone.
2 Do more things for others, and more often. When we were still building our career or business, many of us had little or no time to go out of our way for other people, aside from our own family.
Now, most of us have more opportunity and time, and the satisfaction that comes from leaving our comfort zone and actually doing some service (not merely donating money), whether through an organization or in our personal capacity, is immeasurable.
3 Develop your spirituality. By this, I do not mean religiosity, because true spirituality transcends religion. So, whatever your formal religion, personal spirituality is an intimate one-to-one connection with the ultimate source, the sacred, the divine, whatever your idea of God is.
As the saying goes, we seniors are already in the “departure area” of this life. What better time to prepare for the next life, assuming you believe in one, than now?
Growing one’s spirituality, I have realized, also mitigates the lurking fear of one’s inevitable passing.
I hope to expound on these key tips, and others, with concrete examples of fulfilled few seniors, in future articles about the satisfying senior life. —CONTRIBUTED
The author’s career was in marketing, advertising and media. He was the founder and managing director-chair of a multinational partnership, Hemisphere-Leo Burnett Inc. Today, he is the president of an international poetry organization and a trustee of the Ayala Alabang Senior Citizens’ Association. He is a proud father to five daughters, and has 11 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.