Aging And Me: An Introduction To A Lengthy Professional And Personal Journey

what I do instead

Written By Lynn Dorman, Ph.D.  |  Musings  |  6 Comments

list of resolutions

It’s THAT time of the year — again [sigh]

My inbox and social media feeds are filled with mail/posts selling me on the advantages of:

  • planners
  • courses about planning
  • products on how to use AI to make my year “better” “great” “etc.”
  • health-related info on starting the year off the “right” way
  • making resolutions [personal and business]
  • and more…

Except for the AI which is sort of new this year — the posting and the emails are the same every December and January.

But last year some of it started back earlier in the Fall because everyone knows:

“I have to get your attention about January 2024 in the middle of the summer or early fall or else you won't buy my product.”

It’s fine if you do the above - and even better if making resolutions works for you…

I no longer make them.

I used to.

I’d read a lot of that “how to succeed” stuff, that “guru” stuff, that “my friends say this works” stuff, and would make a list of what I would accomplish in the upcoming year….

Then at some point during the year, I’d look at my resolution list and laugh [or cry] as so little of it ever got done! Or done with any degree of consistency.

So I stopped making New Year resolutions. It seemed to not be good for my mental health OR my productivity. My brain doesn't like lists!!

I've discovered that I am not alone. Many, if not most, people did not follow theirs either.

Especially these:

"I am going to exercise every day” resolution or “I am going to lose X pounds this year” or “I am going to lose 5 pounds a month.”

And work-related resolutions?

The “I will write a post a day,” or “I will write a book before Summer,” or I will do X by Y time frame.

Ditto the very popular “I will be making $XXX a month by the end of March or April” type of resolution.

These resolutions generally do not work.

Why? We tend to set impossible resolutions or standards for ourselves. They are often more wishful thinking than actual planned-out behaviors. Not sticking to these resolutions may make us feel like failures so early in the new year, and yes, the ad people play into this guilt.

Watch ads early in the year and note those aimed at making us feel guilt and shame over NOT keeping resolutions. They may not be direct, but they are aimed at guilt making!!

my insteads 

With two major professional degrees and several accolades, I know I am not a failure.

I actually CAN and DO accomplish things - but I have ceased the resolution-type thinking and adopted a more casual approach to my life. It took some hard work on my part to re-think the business/life model that keeps telling us we “need” to make a yearly, monthly, daily plan… or else!

I choose "or else"

Opting for the “or else” works for me! 

Every choice can be the “correct way!"

I let my mind wander!

I now enjoy late December/early January as we get an added minutes of daylight every afternoon. 

I use this light/dark scenario to reflect, have fun, and think about my work - but not make any of this into resolutions,
to-do lists, or anything tightly scheduled!

I do a non-journal kind of journaling

I call it my mental meandering but it’s more like a brain dump. This is one activity I do most every day but without the “I must do it” kind of thinking, so I often don't do this. And that’s okay!

Apple has made this easier for me as they released a journal app and I have started using that app - but still not every day - I figure a few days a week [maybe] works for me.

My Story

I know a lot about a lot of things because for my entire life I have been a most voracious reader. I think as a kid I lived in the library I still would but it's closed because of the pandemic. I have now taken to loving e-books.

What I know the most about I think are things in the realm of psychology. I went to graduate school in psychology because I wanted to be a researcher instead I got in with a group of psychologists as Developmental Psychology was just becoming a field and I got totally intrigued with the entire lifespan.

Over my many years of teaching I have taught classes on everything from Child Development to Aging. So I do know a lot about the lifespan. And I also know how the research has changed over the many decades that I have been in this field.

And because I myself have been aging over this same period of time I know a lot about aging from a very personal perspective. So that's my story and I'm sticking to it - at least for this blog post.

The Problem As I See It

It can be a problem or not, but the fact is we have no real definition of old, elderly, or other words related to aging. As with most things psychology, terms change over time because norms change over time. I've said it before and I'll say it here:

 normal is a statistical term and It changes as what is being measured changes

A Solution?

I spend a lot of time reading and writing. I write a lot about aging, I read a lot about aging, and one of the many things I get so annoyed about is reading words like "how do you teach old people over 40 to use computers?" Or in terms of the current pandemic, pronouncements like: "the elderly should stay home." Every country has its own definition on who those elderly are who should be staying home. 

Is it people over 50 or 60? or over 80? And why is it everybody of those ages? The pandemic has made me think a lot more about how we label different ages and stages of life. It's been something I have pondered and written about over my lifetime and there is no answer - because as I said above it's all based on statistics and things change and therefore norms change - but in most cultures the labels never change - which is why I hate using specific labels - because they stick.

It's an ongoing conversation that needs to happen. And it has to Include the media who portray older people as useless, in wheelchairs, forgetful, and even useless. I see friends online saying things like "oh I had a senior moment" because they forgot where their car keys were. That's not a senior moment - that's normal. Some of us have been doing that since we've been driving - and that's often when we were teens. 

And we have to stop saying "oh you don't look your age" because that means we have a very different idea of what specific ages look like and those ideas reflect our bias about those ages. 

I have another blog, Grow Older Better, where I do write about aging - well I used to write about aging. Now that I'm getting back to blogging and redoing my website - I will be writing about aging over there.

What are your thoughts on aging? Thank you for your input...

Do you make resolutions? Do they work for you? Or if not - what do you do - if anything? Please comment below and thank you for reading.  

  • I guess I am considered an aging person- will turn 70 in less than a month. I became a widow a year ago almost to the day. My one truth about the aging process? Keep moving. I walk 5-8 miles a day, ride a street strider and sometimes a bicycle. I love to dance. I take several handfuls of vitamins everyday and since the pandemic, cook at home, no more eating out. The year anniversary of my husband’s death is messing with my psyche, but generally, I am happy.

    • sorry to hear about the loss of your husband – I may have read of it on Facebook but it’s been such a weird year I’m not sure what I’ve read. I’m older than you and I like that you do 5 to 8 miles a day, I try but rarely succeed to get in more than 3 on an average – I do yoga instead. I do have a stationary bike that I ride because my street bike needs repair and with the pandemic, I gave up trying to figure out how to get it repaired without having to go anyplace.

  • I don’t have my ducks in a row either though not for lack of trying. I have always been fascinated by the psychology of everything. My more senior friends were much more computer and technology literate than I was. I was the ‘kid’ (50ish)in the group. I was still carrying films for my camera while everyone else had digital cameras. I was introduced to ‘blogging’ by one of them. He is gone now. We belonged to a seniors email group (50 was the qualifying age). I met some physically on two group meetings. One in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and the other in Japan. We still keep in touch through emails some 20 years later.

  • I turn 70 in less than a month. I also want to make sure I have my ducks in a row if I should suddenly die. Death contemplation is a companion to all things aging.

    • Thank you for the comment. In spite of my knowing as much as I do about aging, I don’t contemplate death, and I do not have any ducks in any sort of row.

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