Seven at Seventy


Reflection is taking the time to look back,
so that the view looking forward is even clearer!

Last Wednesday my life moved into its eighth decade; I turned 70 and ironically woke-up at exactly 7:00 AM.  It was a good day filled with well-wishes, lunch with some very special people, and a round of golf.  Late that evening I sat by the firepit and had a birthday drink with my Dad.  As usual, he listened without comment as I recounted the day’s activities, but I also shared some other thoughts that I’ve been wrestling with over the past few weeks. 

Reflection is not uncommon for me, but in the weeks leading up to my birthday, I found myself doing it a bit more than usual; perhaps this is because statistics tell me that this is to be my final decade.  Mind you, I’m not one to be controlled by a statistic, nor am I one to ignore data, but the reality is that life expectancy for a North American male is between the ages of 75-78.  The good news is 35% of the men in my age category will live to see the age of 90, and that number is increasing yearly; I plan to be one of them.

A few years ago I read Clayton Christianson’s How Will You Measure Your Life?  The book expands on the 2010 commencement speech he delivered to the graduating class of the Harvard Business School.  Within the book he sets forth a series of questions that become the basis for answering the book’s title.  

  1. How can I be sure I will find satisfaction in my career?

  2. How can I be sure that my personal relationships become enduring sources of happiness?

  3. How can I avoid compromising my integrity?

My reflections have considered the thoughts, ideas, lessons learned and experiences that have led me to this moment in my life.  Many were grounded in my childhood or captured via crisis or significant event.  Some were discovered in moments of triumph, while others were found in the depths of despair.  Regardless they have all served a purpose, and now serve as guideposts as my life continues.  Here are my Seven at Seventy!

  1. Each Day is a Gift – Start each day by acknowledging it as an opportunity.  There are no guarantees that tomorrow will come.  We’ve all heard the phrase, “Carpe Diem” (Seize the day).  Live that phrase!  

  2. Your Values Shape Your Life – Have you identified the values that guide your life, and could you easily share them if asked?  Here are mine:

      1. My  Faith is my compass.

      2. My family is my Strength

      3. My word is my honor.

      4. Service to others is my gift.

  3. Let the Past Go – Learn from the experiences in your life and then move on.  We cannot live in the past.  While it doesn’t hurt to occasionally look in the rear-view mirror, it is much more important to watch the road ahead and prepare for the challenges yet to come.

  4. Care for the Caretaker –  While service to others is a value, we cannot provide it if we fail to care for ourselves spiritually, mentally and physically.  Caring for others, being present, and giving of ourselves requires self care.  When we care for ourselves it enables us to do a better job caring for others.

  5. Nurture Your Relationships – We have many relationships including family, friends, colleagues and others.  Seek to surround yourself with those who will help you become a better version of yourself and strive to do likewise for others.  Be open to constructive criticism, communicate openly and nurture your relationships.  As the saying goes, “What you sow, so shall you reap!”

  6. Age is a Number – This is a recent guidepost for me.  Similar to each day, every new year is to be celebrated for the opportunities that lie ahead.  Equally important, each year we live provides us with experiences that we can then share with others who will be trekking the path we have already traveled.  It is our actions, not our age that defines us!

  7. Happiness and Success are Relative –  As I look back at my life, the criteria that define success and happiness have changed and evolved.  I have learned that happiness does not come from success, rather we are successful because we are happy.  I’ve now come to understand what happiness and success are at seventy.  I wonder what it will be at eighty?

It’s been a good life and I have many to thank for all that has led to this current moment.  As I move forward, perhaps I will let the combined words of The Grateful Dead and Robert Frost be my new  mantra

What a long strange trip it’s been,
but I’ve got promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep!

Embrace the Challenge