Goals, lifestyle, tips and habits all have their place, but only one is the key to actual change: wise habits rule. When it comes to changing our ways as we grow older, we’re overloaded with advice about what to do. But how? How to start doing something differently and keep it up, year after year? Whatever we choose, that question has to be answered.
To live a satisfying life in future, nothing beats starting new habits right now.
Linguistic therapy: how do these words make you feel?
As for me, I get very different vibes from these four words, especially as I think about getting older.
Goals: one long long round syllable like a tunnel. Got to win, pressure, competition, all or nothing, I might fail, I’m no good…
Lifestyle: a light and graceful word. Pretty, self-gratifying, my reward after years of hard work, travel and wine glasses outside in sunshine or sunset, always a beautiful older couple cuddling, relaxing, I want what they’ve got …
Tips: a quick, insubstantial, transient sound that trips off the tongue and slips into space. Something to try once or twice and then forget. Easy, lightweight, casual, nice idea…
Habits: sounds like a small burrowing animal that lives underground (like rabbits and hobbits). Comforting, everyday, down-to-earth, practical stuff that I actually do.
Goals clarify and incentivise
Goals help you see the big picture and clarify your values. (Warning: your goals will change and change again in the years ahead.)
I’m imagining that you have just retired and you’re wondering how you’ll spend the rest of your life. You might be clear about one goal: for example, you want to travel. Or you want to go to university. Or you want to get fit. However, you won’t know when you have achieved these goals. Travel where? when? how often? Study what? where? at what level? Get how fit?
Lifestyle aspirations bring hope
Dreaming of a better lifestyle is also valuable. It gives you a dream, and we all need a dream.
Some practical and specific action is needed, though, beyond a dream. Otherwise, you might hit one of these problems:
- LIFE + STYLE is a huge idea. So huge that how will you know where to start or when you’ve achieved it?
- It’s also easy to get seduced into side-alleys, focusing on just STYLE without considering your LIFE as a whole.
- A lifestyle dream may have you comparing yourself with others. And their lifestyle is always “better” or “worse” than yours, or not exactly what you need, or just too darned expensive.
Tips can help—but are always random or too many
Yes, I’m sure tips can help us, or I wouldn’t show tips on this website. Usually I read them and nod. Good idea, I think. I should try that. I often pick one up and forget it within days or even minutes. It’s hard to retain the will-power to follow a tip.
Any list of tips is random. Even if they’re offered by the highest authority, they’ve been selected by someone else, out of many possibilities. So whether you respond with action is also random.
Most lists of tips are far too long to be useful. If there’s only one tip, I might try it. If there are just a handful, I wonder what has been omitted and why they were chosen. If there are more (10 tips! 20 tips!), there’s no way I could possibly follow them all.
Will-power and desire to change: a tricky trade-off
To achieve goals, or maintain a general change of lifestyle, or follow a tip consistently, you need to maintain a consistent level will-power. And will-power is fickle. Here one day, gone the next. So these three paths to improving your lifestyle are notoriously difficult.
Changing our habits can be brutally difficult too — but only if the habit is too big and our will-power is too low.
However, doing one little thing over and over, day after day for several weeks, when we are fairly motivated to do so: turns out that’s not so hard at all.
Treasure and share your wise habits
As one of the Almost Old, you already have many wise habits and I want to know about you favourite. (Preferably not in Comments, though, because then they’ll just turn into another list of tips.)
Wait for my little survey of wise habits. (Coming soon. Would be here already if SurveyMonkey hadn’t broken its free plan, grrr.)
Then I can give your favourite habit the weight it deserves, with its own post on this blog.
Thanks for reading my linguistic and practical comparison of goals, lifestyle, tips and habits. Almost old? What next for you?