On the occasion of my 62nd birthday - well, actually, the two weeks prior to the event - I decided it was time for a short depression. I earned it. I was entitled. And I was going to wallow a bit. This was followed by a two-week celebration, so it all balanced out, and the whole experience is perhaps a perfect representations of the contradictions inherent in aging today.

Many of us eagerly anticipate the magic date when we become pension-eligible. The vision of a monthly check – large or small – looms large and the idea of income unencumbered by hours in an office holds great appeal. After all, we worked hard for that money. The mood should be celebratory. We should be joyous. And yet, I didn’t find myself dancing. I found myself a little depressed. So I began to ask around. As it developed, many of the men and women I spoke with found themselves feeling a sense of loss.

The contradictions are many:

I'm eligible for a pension and I'm actively building a reputation in a new field.

I look younger that I actually am, but my body pretty much functions in ways typical of someone who is no longer 40.

I have wonderful ideas and plans. I am enthusiastic and ambitious. I need a nap.

I want to travel and have adventures and meet new, interesting, exciting people. I have trouble making enough time for the friends and family I already love.

I am taking an assortment of pills every day. I am healthy and vital and energetic.

Every day brings a wonderful assortment of moods and feelings - optimism and dread live side by side. Energy and sloth emerge seemingly at will. Chocolate (serotonin) competes with blackberries (antioxidant) for center stage. Wanting to cook wonderful meals coexists with lists and lists and lists of new restaurants to be explored. Feeling invisible and cast aside (who wants the retired lady?) vies with requests from new and old clients and opportunities to spend time in the company of brilliant and exciting folk. How can we deal with all these contradictions?

1. Take your time. Adjust. Allow changes to sink in. Sometimes, it is far better to do nothing. What looked like a huge problem may disappear if left alone.

2. Take stock – of who you are, of what you want, of what you have, of what you need. You don’t need to do everything. In truth, you don’t even really want to do everything – you’re just attracted to the sparklies.

3. Learn to edit and prune. Give things away to make room for new things to come into your life. Give up habits that no longer serve you. End as many relationships as you can that don’t add meaning and joy to your life. Give up activity for activity’s sake.

4. Set intentions, not goals. Envision the activities, the things, the people that you want in your life. Be clear about what actions will create what you want. There’s a difference between acting purposefully in clear intention and setting goals that may limit or constrict you.

5. Stay curious. Explore. Invent. Create. Nothing else can keep you as young, vibrant, and sought-after.

I sit and giggle at the richness of possibilities even as I am dizzied by contradiction. No wonder they say aging isn't for sissies!

Author's Bio: 

Susan R. Meyer, Ed.D, President of Life-Work Coach and Susan R. Meyer, Coaching and Consulting is an IAC certified coach helps people and organizations connect the dots and implement a plan. She especially enjoys working with people at retirement who are on to their next new thing. Dr. Meyer has a passion for empowering her clients to break through barriers in life and at work to achieve unparalleled success. She has a doctorate in Adult Learning and Leadership and masters degrees in counseling and educational psychology and taught coaches as a member of the faculty of the Thomas Leonard Coaching School. You can find out more about her at http://www.life-workcoach.com and http://www.susanrmeyer.com .