Dynamic aging is a journey into the unknown. It is unknown because we have never been there before and we don’t know what to expect. That’s pretty much true of all of life. The difference may be that when we are younger, we feel excitement – we can do anything and our culture supports that belief. As we are “aging” – whatever that means to you and whenever you feel it happening – you have more experience with possible limitations. So the journey into the unknown is exploring and discovering what is possible – including excitement.
Between now and the end of May 2022 I will be publishing posts about a journey my husband , Willis, and I have embarked upon. I invite you to join us by sharing your comments on what promises to be an adventure.
Chapter 1 – May 2021 – Part I: The Reason for the Journey
What does “excitement” mean to you? What gets you excited? And why would you want to be excited?
This was the question I asked my husband, Willis, 5 months after his successful right hip replacement at 84 years of age. It seemed like he had lost his excitement for living. Sure, we were in the midst of the pandemic in October 2020 at the time of the surgery. It made a lot of sense to us to be careful about what we did and where we went. He had spent 18 months or more before the surgery in pain and with limited range of motion because of the hip. I wondered why after being vaccinated and physically getting stronger, he still did not seem to be excited about anything.
What is Excitement?
As a professionally certified dynamic aging life coach, my curiosity was piqued. I used the basic skills of coaching, including genuine curiosity, listening, reflecting back what I heard, to open communication without coaching. What was getting in his way of exploring, discovering and choosing new adventures – whatever that might be for him? Turns out until I asked him, he hadn’t realized he was not excited. Part of it was, he said, he was feeling fear – fear of falling. Pre-op he had been in pain and the hip was unreliable. Post-op there was loss of strength and not wanting to do something “stupid” that could result in another trip to the ER or hospital. Articulating these fears brought them to where he could see them, acknowledge them, and begin to respect them. And now he could begin to make choices to get him on the road to recovering his excitement for life.
Excitement is hiking Vernal and Nevada Falls in Yosemite National Park
I asked him what would excite him? And spontaneously, out of seemingly nowhere, he said “Hiking Vernal and Nevada Falls in Yosemite National Park” in May 2022. What about that excited him? Growing up he spent a lot of time there with his family. The Park is a magical place for him. We have done that hike several times and thoroughly enjoyed it. And it is a challenging trail including 600 granite steps! Was he serious? Then he told his doctor about the idea and I knew we were on. So I told our 4 children and their families and some said they wanted to do it with us. And an idea was born!
I loved the idea! I was thrilled to hear excitement in his voice as we began to plan for this new adventure. And I was surprised! What would that give him?
Excitement is Discovering Your Purpose, Outcome, Plan (POP)
In coaching, when there is something that our client says they want to do, we facilitate them in discovering POP (Purpose, Outcome, Plan) or WHY they want it, WHAT they want, and HOW they plan to get it – in that order. To some, this seems out of order. Shouldn’t we start with HOW we will do it and the rest will come? Well, actually, if you know WHY you want something and WHAT it is you want, the HOW will evolve. If he had started with the HOW, it could have seemed overwhelming. As long as he knows the WHY and WHAT, that will keep him going and give him the creativity needed to figure out the HOW.
Willis’ Purpose/WHY for wanting to hike Vernal and Nevada Falls: He wants to discover what is possible for him physically, mentally and emotionally now – at this age post hip replacement.
His Outcome/WHAT: Gaining the confidence he can do anything he says he wants to do and discovering his path to get there.
His Plan/HOW: Exploring, discovering and doing whatever it takes in real time.
A Year of Excitement and Adventure
Over the next year, I will be publishing blog posts tracking our journey of preparation for this adventure. It will include our physical journey as well as the part life coaching plays in keeping us on track and staying in touch with what we are seeing, hearing and feeling.
Next: Chapter 1 – May 2021 – Part II: The Journey Begins