The driving force behind establishing EML was to understand the many and varied implications resulting from the global trend of living longer. Our initial focus was on learning from the experience the ‘path-finders’ – those octogenarians who found themselves alive and well long after they thought they would have ‘checked out’.
Through focus group discussions we identified the important life skills that differentiated those who were making a success of their new phase of life from the rest. Further research identified a key and very heartening refinement – success was not down to quantity, it was the individual’s ability to establish and maintain a balance across all areas.
Even more surprising was that these octogenarians knew it. They recognized in themselves and others the short-comings that were preventing them from enjoying life, but found it almost impossible to change. Examples were plentiful – wealthy individuals who had saved consistently throughout life ‘for their old age’ but were unable to spend it. Some were frustrated by health issues – particularly those they could have avoided but chose not to do so. Others were lonely – they saw their friends and family drift away but were unable to change. There were those who sought to hold on to possessions ‘just in case’ – now totally swamped by all they had, they just didn’t know how to let go.
The successful ones were those who knew the importance of balance. It was not a case of moderation in all things – some enjoyed excess in some areas, but then balanced that with excess in others! Nor was it a case of being boring and dull – some dedicated all their efforts to making money – but they also knew when to stop. Others overdid it each Christmas but went on a diet in January.
The good news is that, particularly if you start young, this is a skill that can be learnt and once learnt you increase you prospects of a long, happy, healthy and prosperous later life