Be Your Best

At 94 Years Old, He Is Still Playing Hockey…Come to Think Of it, I am almost 51 Years Old and Still Playing Hockey too. The Key to Getting Old “Successfully”.

by on Oct.20, 2015, under Blog Posts

I watched a TV news magazine story recently about a man in Duluth Minnesota who is still playing hockey several times a week at 94 years old!  94 years old!!

When I think of people who are 94 years old I envision it being pretty difficult just to get out of bed and put on your clothes, let alone suit up for a hockey game, take the ice, and mix it up with other players at an age who could be his great grandchildren.

When I see things like this, it makes me really reflect and think hard about the concept of getting “old”.  When I was 20, 45 years old seemed “old”.  When I was 35 years old, 60 seemed “old”.  And now that I am at the doorstep of 51 years old, well, 80 is my new “old”.  Isn’t it interesting how you change your perspective as time rolls on?  I now understand really well why this is — it is my mind’s way of making me feel better about something that inherently is negative — getting older and older.

When I see that Mark Sertich in this news story, 94 years old, playing hockey several times a week, and other similar examples, it takes the negative concept of growing old for me and turns it into an inspirational one, with some key learnings to go along with it.  I “think” I understand what he feels like and why he continues to play hockey.  I am still playing competitive hockey myself at nearly 51 years old, one of just a very small handful of over-50 players in ‘A’ league men’s hockey — that is dominated by much younger players, many half my age.  I have shin guards that are older than some of the players on my team!

Growing Older, Growing Old

It is a weird concept to think about, and I think about this a lot related to ‘A’ league men’s hockey, because it is one of the tougher weekly tests of my physical and mental ability:  at what point am I “old”.  At what point am I too “old”?  Same deal as what I described above about the perspective we have of what “old” is —- it all depends on where you are at now.  I started playing hockey at 6 years old and have basically played competitively every fall/winter to this day.  When I started playing ‘adult men’s’ league hockey at 22 years old, the concept of playing the same game in the same league at 50 years old, I could not even wrap my mind around.  If I saw a 40+ year old player in the locker room, he looked like “Grandpa” to me.  But now that I am over 50 years old, my brain does not “feel” or “think” I am old.  I know I can’t perform the all skills that I was able to do when younger, but my brain says that I can.

Growing Old “Successfully”

I think there is a gold nugget I have learned and am still learning and refining about getting older “successfully”.  There is getting old, and then there is getting old “successfully”.  Everyone has heard the ‘you are only as old as you feel’ or ‘you are only as old as you think you are’ clichés.  I like to dig deeper to better understand it since getting older and getting old is negative topic for me — and I want to understand the success formula if there is one.

Here is my gold nugget distinction and finding and learning:

The critical key learning for me to getting older or getting old “successfully” is to do whatever I have to do in order to disregard age completely and totally.  Literally, purge the concept of age from my thought process in any and every way possible.  This sounds easy, but it is not easy.  We are reminded countless times every day and week about age, our age, and getting older.  TV commercials, birthdays, deaths of friends, Senior discounts, retirement services, etc… all constantly slap us in the face with the concept of age.  But, from my perspective, the key is to literally disregard age and purge it/ignore it any way I can.

But I want to make another important distinction, which can be confused with my ‘literally ignoring age’ strategy, that is also critically important with “successfully” growing old.  This is the constant recognition and understanding of the value of our most important asset: Time.

It may seem that these 2 concepts are one and the same, and there is no difference or distinction.  But for me, it is understanding a distinction between and executing the combination of these 2 perspectives that is the root Success Formula for growing old “successfully”.  Disregard and ignore “age”, but have enormous Focus on the Value of Time.  My distinction: I like to think of time as “currency”, of which I can create or find more of it [for good use] if I want and if I focus on it and properly value it (or I can lose it without proper attention) — which is fundamentally different from the concept of “age” where there would appear to be a very finite amount of it left (ie. where am I at on this finite time line?).  I don’t think about this logically or mathematically — I simply try hard to think this way.

To me, this is a hugely important life success strategy — at any “age”.  Of course, the younger you are the less this strategy will “appear” to be useful or important.  I remember a time when the amount of life “time” seemed nearly infinite [and this is really the correct way to think – **golden nugget**].  It sort of took time for me to get “old” in order to want to try to figure this out.  And maybe you already had or have your ‘getting old successfully’ formula in hand — I would love to hear your gold nuggets on this topic.

For now, I work very hard to constantly (a) ignore age at all cost + (b) value time as my most incredibly precious asset as a critical strategy for life success.

Be Your Best,
Todd D. Gifford

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