The brain has the ability to change, even into older age
A note from Johann
Change of any kind often creates a measure of discomfort. It means stretching yourself and experiencing a degree of uncomfortable adjustment. Most often, we feel that simply carrying on as we are is easier.
For a long time, the established belief was that our entrenched habits weren’t changeable after a certain age. Retirees were living from a fixed set of skills and capabilities.
Research in recent years, however, has shown that this is not true, and that change is possible at all stages of one’s life. Neuroplasticity is, in fact, possible throughout life. Neuroplasticity is the characteristic of our brain to be able to form and reorganise synaptic connections in response to learning and even when recovering from injury.
What this means for us is that we can gain all kinds of new abilities and we can also improve established skills. In retirement, we can take on a new job or become even more skilled at things we already know how to do but want to improve upon. This shows that at an older age, you can take on a new challenge to make something previously unknown work for you. Among the very many options you can consider, you may choose to learn a new discipline, an exercise to retrain your body, or a skill like coding the way 81-year-old Masako Wakamiya did when she developed online games for her peers. The possibilities are endless.
Our recent webinar guest, Millard Arnold, is a prime example of the ability to make career changes throughout life. Millard is a seventy-six-year-old American, now living in South Africa, who started his career as a journalist and then worked in a variety of other fields including law, academia, diplomacy and politics. He is also an actor, a writer, an artist and prize-winning photographer. Making each change, he says he acquired a new set of skills and professional knowledge as he was driven to be a better version of himself at each stage.
Millard is admittedly an enterprising and resourceful person who has led a life of enviable growth and development. Yet, even those of us with less drive can strive for continued growth toward our interests and curiosity. We can embark on changes and make a difference in our lives as part of our elderhood.
Our top 3 article picks this week:
The Beginners Guide To Continuous Self-Improvement
James Clear is our favourite go to expert when it comes to habits. And we think that an attitude of continued growth is a habit that that can be cultivated. This article on self-improvement is a great springboard if you’re looking for propel yourself toward continued growth.
What is Self-Improvement?
Let’s define self-improvement. The definition of self-improvement is pretty self-explanatory: Self-improvement is the improvement of one’s knowledge, status, or character by one’s own efforts. It’s the quest to make ourselves better in any and every facet of life.
Best Self-Improvement Articles to Start With
Self-improvement almost always starts with self-awareness and the ability to transform your habits. If you’re serious about transforming your life and improving yourself, you should start with these two articles:
How to Stop Lying to Ourselves: A Call for Self-Awareness: If you’re serious about getting better at something, then one of the first steps is to know—in black-and-white terms—where you stand. You need self-awareness before you can achieve self-improvement.
Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead: For most of us, the path to self-improvement starts by setting a specific and actionable goal. What I’m starting to realize, however, is that when it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that are important to you, there is a much better way to do things. It all comes down to the difference between goals and systems.
Click here to read more on self-improvement on jamesclear.com
The Importance of Self-Improvement No Matter how Old You Are
Continues growth can also refer to continued self-development. Afterall, improved self-awareness can lead to improvement in all other areas of life too. This article by @lifehack is a good guide to tackling self improvement at any age and lists some of the benfits like improved decision making and better relationships.
Take this enriching journey of self-improvement in a positive light. The idea is not to get demotivated along the way and lose hope. You should instead take full responsibility of yourself and strive to go beyond your preconceived notions that might be limiting you and this can only be achieved with constant self-improvement.
So, whether you are a retired 65-year old or a 26-year old who is just starting off his/her career – remember that you will always be work in progress and there can never be an end to learning about yourself. That is what makes life purposeful and fun.
Click here to read the article on lifehack.org
We’re all lifelong learners.
Lifelong learning refers to personal development based on self-directed education. It isn’t necessarily about formal schooling but rather refers to our approach to growth and development. This article covers the importance of lifelong learning, its benefits, some examples and how you can adopt lifelong learning.
Open any Stoic thinker and you’ll find the instruction to live according to nature. Stoic Emperor Marcus Aurelius put it this way in Meditations: “Philosophy requires only what your nature already demands.” The founder of Stoicism, Zeno, sweepingly defined nature as “the way things work,” and wisdom as acting in accordance with natural laws. Another Stoic, Seneca, put it this way: “Let us keep to the way which Nature has mapped out for us, and let us not swerve therefrom. If we follow Nature, all is easy and unobstructed; but if we combat Nature, our life differs not a whit from that of men who row against the current.” In another instance Seneca defines ‘living according to nature’ as the motto of the Stoic school.
Click here to read the full article on dailystoic.com
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Other highlights for the week:
Most Popular Daily Thought
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. – George Bernard Shaw
This sentiment by George Bernard Shaw is an interesting one. If life a journey of self discovery or do we create ourselves as we go? I think it is a little of both. We spend much of our lives building ourselves up through education, career development and developmental goals. And sometimes we have to go through the refiner’s fire to reveal parts of ourselves. The retirement transition time is a good opportunity to grow ourselves in new avenues of interest while also letting go of some elements of our past life stages.
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Last week’s question:
How can we continue to grow in retirement?
Setting goals and having a vision.
Travel the world and do new things.
Learning a new skill.
This week’s question:
How do older adults find purpose beyond their work life?
Click here to answer the question in our Facebook group
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