When will you die? According to the Office of National Statistics, the average age of death in the UK is 71.9 years for men and 82.8 years for women. If you were to reach these averages, what would the year and the month of your death be? My death-day is July 2042, I calculated – suddenly death feels much closer. It makes me want to make the most the 35 years I have left. So how do I do that?
My husband Adrian and I are both Life Coaches, having pulled our coaching experiences and the latest research together to write Act 3, the book hopes to help people over 50 live a better life. Our generation is in a new situation – which we’re calling Act 3 – in which half of us can expect to live significantly longer in better health. This gives us the potential to plan and achieve some life goals previous generations would have found impossible. What will make us use this time well? First, start with the end in mind, and consider the wisdom of those on their death bed according to a book by palliative care worker Bronnie Ware’s ‘The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.”
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings
4. I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friend
5. I wish I had let myself be happier
The key to avoiding these or other regrets is to find what makes your life meaningful and worthwhile. You do that by listening to that inner part of you that for years has led a life governed by what you should do, instead of what you really want to do. For example, I met someone recently who had always hated his job but couldn’t see a way to leave without financial worries. All his life he believed working hard mattered more than enjoying your job because his father had been like that. But it made him miserable, and vulnerable to drinking too much. So in his 50s, he gave himself permission to find time to pursue his love of cycling with a group of local friends who cared about him. It improved his fitness too and he extended his network of friends, which becomes so important in Act 3. If you’re struggling to give yourself permission to think about what you really want in Act 3, why not ask someone who knows you well, who cares about you, what they see your true potential to be.
Finding your purpose in Act 3 will bring contentment that life is worthwhile. You won’t find it by acquiring more things. For some, it’s found in time with loved ones, or volunteering. It could be starting a business, or setting a big challenge like finally taking that maths GCSE you missed or getting out into nature, less time on the sofa helps too.
Listen to your values. They speak to you of what matters most to you, ignoring them leaves you directionless, and more vulnerable to a life of sadness and regrets. The Act 3 aim is to get to the end of life with no regrets. On my deathbed in 2042, I want my last words to be, ‘What a ride.’
Act3 – How To Live A Better Life After 50 by Judy and Adrian Reith will be published by the award-winning crowdfunding publisher Unbound. To pledge your copy, visit Act 3Last modified: November 17, 2020