This excerpt from New York Times bestselling author Ilchi Lee’s new book, I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Life Transformation, was originally published on BloomerBoomer.com.
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Each and every one of us can choose how we will use the time and the life that have been given to us. This is the greatest power and right that we have. Unfortunately, though, only a tiny fraction of people make good use of this power. Most people have small plans for what they will do tomorrow, what they will do next week. Where they will travel during their next vacation, what they will do this holiday season, and so on. Few have plans for five years or ten years from now, much less an overall life plan. This for where the current of their lives will flow and what goals they will achieve in each stage of their lives—youth, adulthood, middle age, and old age.
Without a big picture for how we will live our lives, and for what, we end up just going with the flow—allowing our circumstances to determine how things work out. French novelist Paul Bourget said this: ‘We must live as we think, or we shall end up by thinking as we have lived.’
After attentively observing and talking with people who, like me, have entered the second half of their lives. I have reached this conclusion: most people lack a concrete picture of their lives in their 70s, 80s, and beyond. This is true for people who are physically, mentally, and socially active, as well as for those who live passive, isolated lives following retirement.
Even people who spend their old age in busy activities—traveling, engaging in hobbies, or volunteering—have to-do lists that fill their schedules but rarely have a big picture for what they want to achieve. To design your remaining years so they are healthy, happy, and overflowing with joy and a sense of fulfillment, you must have a purpose or goal that gives that time meaning.
In fact, for choosing how long you will live, what should come first is finding a purpose or goal you want to achieve during the rest of your life. Picking a random number that just pops into your head has little meaning; such a number itself won’t motivate you to live to that age. When we have goals that give us meaning, we do our best to achieve those goals, using all the resources we have. When we have a reason for living to a specific age, we work even harder to manage our bodies and minds and to maintain healthy life habits.