A few weeks ago a friend was lamenting her forthcoming 50th birthday. After giving the appropriate condolences and pep talk, I mentioned that my next birthday would be my 60th (with the caveat that it was still 10 months off).
She asked, “What are your goals for that milestone birthday?”
I had no immediate answer, but I did like the question. So this post is my answer. First, I’ll mention that these are personal, life goals as opposed to business goals. While this forum has been used for both over the years, I’ve primarily devoted these pages to business or career goals. But as I reflect on her question, I feel it’s most important to share goals related to my health – both physical and mental. These goals for my 60th birthday are designed to let me live an active, energetic, and productive life for the next two-plus decades. The goal is to be fit, fully engaged, and highly creative throughout my 60s and 70s. Let life begin anew.
Backstory – Turning 55
Throughout my life I’ve been generally healthy and active. I say generally because I’ve always had a level of awareness. I give myself a grade B- for awareness. I knew and understood, but I didn’t necessarily apply myself. I mostly just coasted.
At a family reunion four years ago we celebrated my 55th birthday. It occurred to me that I was no longer young. I had aches. I didn’t recover quickly like I always remembered being able. I couldn’t move as fast as I used to do. I was developing the habit of moving slower. While I didn’t feel old, I clearly recognized that I didn’t feel young anymore. That realization hit home at age 55.
The last few years
Not a lot changed. The slide continued. Nothing major or dramatic, just a continuation of increasing aches and an increasing feeling of lethargy.
I decided I needed to regularly start riding my bicycle again. I had two good years of renewed riding but then I’ve had two years of barely riding.
I told myself I should eat better and drink less – but nothing really changed. My legs muscles started to ache along with my worn-out knees. I would need to balance myself when I first stood up and set myself in motion with deliberate intention. Getting up and going was no longer a reflex or automatic response. I knew something had to change but wasn’t sure what or how.
I started to think and say aloud, “If I’m going to be healthy and active in my 60s and 70s, then something has to change.”
On December 21, 2016, I decided I wasn’t going to drink beer that evening. Having a few beers each evening had become my default. It was my transition from the work-day to the after hours. It was a habit I developed in my mid-30s. I remember very well when having a few beers went from being a weekend or special occasion activity to being a daily occurrence.
Last December 21st, I decided to break that habit. I wasn’t sure at that time if it would be until Christmas or maybe to the 1st of the year? I just decided to stop. Within a week, I had decided that I would no longer drink under these three conditions:
- At home alone
- When I was the driver
- When in a business or professional situation
I eventually decided to prolong my abstinence to one full year. So today, I’m eight-plus months towards that goal. Overall it’s been pretty easy. Explaining it to people was initially the biggest emotional challenge I had, but at this point I’ve encountered almost every scenario and for the most part no explanation is even necessary. It’s simply a choice.
Effects of Sobriety
The first few weeks were the most difficult especially at 5 or 6pm. I had to develop a new routine. Eating dinner earlier became my new habit. My motivation increased when I noticed that my weight started to drop. By the end of the first month the scale was confirming that not regularly drinking beer was lightening the load. At the end of three months I had lost about 10 pounds. It was at this point I decided that one full year of abstinence was my goal.
I also disconnected the TV during this time and started reading in the evening. Amazing how the mind can concentrate when it isn’t swimming under the influence.
At about six months, I noticed my sleep being much deeper. I also started sleeping longer.
Professionally, I started to make some hard decisions about my business that I had been hesitating on making. Let’s say I started to develop clarity where previously there was uncertainty.
So two weeks ago Lisa asked me, “What are your goals for your 60th birthday?” Here is my answer.
- Sobriety. Continue my current full-abstinence goal through my 60th birthday (July 7, 2018).
- Exercise. Ride my bicycle 1000 miles. My new minimum ride is 6.1 miles. My old minimum ride was 8.0 miles. Averaging 7 miles each riding day, I need to ride 143 days. With about 300 days until my 60th birthday, that means I must average a bike ride every other day. Of course the forthcoming winter will eliminate approximately 90 riding days, so I’ll need to be diligent this fall and then step it up again come spring.
- Water. Drink lots of water. Two glasses when I wake up. A glass between cups of coffee during the day. Two glasses 20 minutes prior to eating. A glass before bed. Lots and lots of water.
- Food. Increase my awareness of the food – or fuel – that I’m putting into my body. Become more aware of portion size. Increase my knowledge of food groups and balancing the food groups during meals.
- Supplements. Specifically vitamins. My mother instilled the need to supplement my diet with vitamins. So I have a foundation of belief, but I’ve been on autopilot the last several decades. My goal is to develop my own philosophy of vitamin supplements. Develop my own understanding of how various vitamins affect me in terms of energy and physical well-being. I’ve ordered the book Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit by Adelle Davis – this book was my mother’s inspiration fifty years ago.
- Weight. Be consistently under 185 pounds by my 60th birthday. For the past 20 years, I’ve been consistently in the low 200 pound range. Sometimes just under 200 lbs – a few times as high as 210 pounds. Generally speaking it was too much. In my mid 30s when I started the routine of drinking beer daily, I weighed about 175 pounds. My long-term goal would be to get into the 170s again. But for now – and for my 60th birthday – my goal is to be under 185. Today, my weight is 193-195. I believe the combination of exercise and changing consumption habits will make my weight goal comfortably obtainable.
The ultimate goal is to be healthy, active, fit, creative, and energetic throughout my 60s and 70s.
For that to become reality, I need to proactively manage my physical and mental health. Starting at the beginning of this year, I’ve made several important changes of habit. The above list is a refinement and extension of those changes.
Here are the specific goals for exercise and consumption that I’m declaring for my 60th birthday – a short ten months from now.
I’m ready. Let’s go. I’ll keep you updated.