Your brain won’t retire if you give it a rewire.

Why you need to rewire and not retire?

Life is busy, too demanding? Your asking too much of yourself?  So your weighing up whether it’s time to retire and  ‘get a life’.

But your not ready, you’ll get bored, your brain needs to be stimulated, not stressed.

You don’t want to retire, but you need to rewire.

Mid life is your time to leave the busyness of life to get on with the business of life.

It’s time to ‘Boom On’ to the most satisfying and productive years of all.

Not long ago we believed that our brain cells formed by a certain age.  As we aged these cells deteriorated. Our days to fully participate in life were numbered.

So Boomers lived life to the fullest.  We knew that we only had a short time to have a good time.  Many of us willing to forgo the loss of a few brain cells using alcohol or drugs to enhance a good time.  To quote Jim Morrison from The Doors, “I want to get my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames”.

Life’s stages were clearly defined. Young age for learning, early adulthood for earning, late adulthood for leisure before we lost our faculties.

Now that boomers have reached mid life, life’s ‘boomed on’,  just like us.

Computational Neuroscience.

Neuroplasticity has now replaced the formerly held belief that the brain is a static organ. We now know that the brain changes throughout the whole of life. By changing behavior, neurons learn to process information differently building new pathways to replace old worn out paths.

The ageing brain.

Our brain thins with age. This affects our short term memory. It is why we can’t find our car keys.  But a thinning brain does not affect our capacity to process new information and learn.

The good news is that our brain improves with age in important areas. Mainly in the area of competence, the ability to compare the old with the new. From this we develop wisdom which is our enhanced capacity to solve problems.

And better still, those years of mental activity in early adulthood have provided a strong foundation.

But here’s the problem. Whilst we’ve been actively involved in delivering the goods, after all of these years we’ve become bored.  That’s why it’s time for reinvention.

The time has come to reignite our brain and recover our passion.  Sitting around doing crosswords and brain puzzles is not the solution.

10 ways to rewire so your brain won’t retire.

Mindfulness Meditation- Practice mindfulness meditation.  Filling every moment of the day is what your accustomed to.  Developing the discipline to sit still for 10-40 minutes, working through the boredom and discomfort of a mind used to ‘always planning’ will exercise your brain.  This exercise improves your brains capacity to pay attention and remain focused. You will develop awareness of how your mind works.

Journaling- Writing things down helps you remember better.  Journaling will organize both your business and personal life.  Freewriting is a great way to start unraveling brain clutter, it enhances emotional wellbeing and gives insight to problems.

Develop the mind of a Scientist- How long has it been since you’ve been curious?  Efficiency and time management replaced curiosity.  Start exploring life like a scientist, you’ll uncover new connections, make breakthroughs, provide new outcomes .

Stop working to a deadline- A busy schedule trained your brain to focus on the deadline.   Your brain learned that the quickest route was the priority.  You stopped gaining insight to new possibilities.  Focus on the job to gain a deeper perspective.

Get into the flow- Much of early adulthood was outcome focused.  External focus was needed to provide to survive.  That job is done, it’s time get into the flow of life.  Flow is the state where you become so fully immersed in the enjoyment of an activity you lose a sense of time and place.

Move on from your story-  You’ve been telling your story for so long you may have no idea that it’s no longer true.  My story was implanted thirty years ago when I separated, it was my story of struggling to make ends meet.  I had not stopped to realize that I had been making ends meet for twenty years.   This story needed updating.  Once this came into my awareness, I became unstuck from this story and my brain automatically updated.

 Exercise -Mid lifers who take up cycling, mountain climbing or running are not crazy.  Physical exercise improves brain health as much as body health.  Stop reading the news and go climb a mountain.

Face your fears- Are you afraid of public speaking? Join toastmasters.  It turns out that facing your fears, even after one exposure, can reset your brain. Imagine all of the new possibilities if you discovered that you actually are quite capable of building your own website.

Artistic pursuits-  Keith Richards got it right, artistic pursuits fire the brain. You never had the talent to make it.  Your rock star/painter/author didn’t provide enough income.  So you moved on from following the  rock star, actor, painter or author dream.  Now you’ve acquired skills and hindsight.  Use your wisdom to pick up where you left off.   A rewire will fire the rock star or artist in you.

What fascinates you? - Unleash your talents with what fascinates you.  Mark S. Walton, author of Boundless Potential describes a 3-step process used by those who successfully reinvent themselves in mid life.  Ask

  1. What fascinates me?
  2. Translate this fascination into action in the real world.
  3. Determine what type of structure you can use to bring this into reality.

Are you now ready to rewire your desire? 
How will you get on with the business of life?

Would love your comments.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Hi Priska,

    These are some good ideas and I especially like the one about moving on from your story. It’s really easy to just get stuck in one’s own history rather than moving on to bigger and better things.

    • Moving on from one’s story gives you a great sense of freedom, carrying all of that weight for so many years is tiring. That sense of freedom then pens up many opportunities. I’ve ‘boomed on’

  2. Hi Priska,
    Wow. This is certainly a well researched and well thought out post! I really hope people who read this click on some of the links because there’s a ton of value waiting for them.
    Side note: I’m constantly rewiring my brain so I’m not worried about having it retire on me. If anything, it’s going to scream, “Mercy Joel! Stop taxing me so much!” one of these days.
    Keep up the great content! All that behind-the-scenes work you’re doing lately on Let’s Boom On and to prep to publish a post is paying off.

    • Thank you for noticing Joel. I have spent the past three years researching full time. I’ve become fascinated! Your brain won’t be taxed, because you are approaching what you do with a child’s curiosity. Using that part of the brain is not taxing, it just becomes more intrigued. And I’m becoming intrigued about what you come up with next.

  3. This is so timely. I can use a lot of your pointers with my current frustration with uncooperative technology.

    I need to get over my old story about how burdensome technology is, and how unfair (?) it is to have to be the one to deal with it.

    My new story will be that I am a creative problem solver, a researcher who loves to learn, and someone committed to the joy of the aha moment. All true, but I haven’t connected that story to my technology story before. The shift won’t happen overnight, but I know from experience that once I set myself on the road to a shift of perspective, it will happen.

    Also, I didn’t know that our brains thin with age. Fascinating. And perfect scapegoat. Sorry guys, I’m just having a skinny brain day.

    • I hear you Theta! This mad scientist has been busy in the technology lab ever since I’ve published this post. Trying to get my social sharing buttons to work, my avatar to show my face, my internet to pick up speed.

  4. Hi Priska, I agree with Joel, a nicely researched post with lots of valuable links. I love the name of your blog, “Let’s Boom On.” I’m right there with you! Coincidentally, I just started a Mindfulness Meditation class last night! I meditated years ago and somehow lost my way. I really resonate, too, with unleashing your talents on what fascinates you. It’s never too late to discover hidden treasures in life that help us boom on! Thanks for a good read!

    • Hi Marilyn, Mindfulness meditation has been life changing for me. Who’d have thought. In my previous busy life I had no time to sit around doing nothing. I never imagined that slowing down has enabled me to do more than before. I’ve even become fascinated by science an area I previously had no aptitude for.

  5. What a great post, Priska!!! (I had to lsugh when I read in your reply that you’ve “boomed on” ;). What a thoroughly research and well presented article. I know coming from neuropsychology what truth re-wiring holds in store for our future. Just like the baby doctor that everyone read like he was some god turned out to be wrong fifty years ago, so too the doctors that talked of the ‘declining, waning years’ are/were wrong. Are brains can re-wire and with the freedom that “empy-nesters” have, whether still working or not, they can follow the passions they couldn’t follow before. We can all do that and should to keep the brain’s elasticity going. All of the points you mentioned are so well informed. Very impressive.

    • Thank you Lee. It makes me laugh as well. How the meaning of words can change. I remember feeling that everyone was waiting for me to ‘boom on out of here’ because my days were numbered, I had reached the end of the road in the modern efficient workforce. Now I’m roaring to ‘boom on’. Instead of worrying about my future uncertainty, I’ve become intrigued by what might be uncovered.

  6. I just began meditation and yoga. It is already rewiring my brain to take things slow and tackle one thing at a time. Great article and links. I think soo many people would benefit from your great posts. I am sharing it on facebook so my other “Boom on” friends will benefit.

  7. I was an expert at multi tasking. To my amazement I am finding that I now get more done focusing on one thing in blocks of time. Thank you for sharing me with your friends, I will do the same.

  8. Hi Priska, what an enlivening post!

    I loved the suggestion to get unstuck from our stories, such good advice. I’m also a big believer in mindfulness meditation (or mindful anything) and journalling, they both make a real difference in my life.

  9. some poignant information on the topic of mindfulness can be found in “rewire your brain for love” marsha lucas PhD. teaches the reader just how mindfulness really works for us.

  10. Outstanding advice, Priska!
    I’ve been reading reassuring articles about our aging brains as scientists debunk old assumptions. Your suggestions about how we can capitalize on this new knowledge are very helpful. I know from experience that some of these work, and look forward to trying the others.
    Thanks!

  11. I know that the way I feel has continued to improve each year (I just turned 36) and I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to experiment with a bunch of different possibilities in terms of what I do with my life and settled upon a group of them I enjoy.

  12. Hi Priska,

    Some very useful information, love the list of 10, thank you for sharing.

  13. I think I have the opposite problem – I demand too much of my brain :)

    But I shared this article with my mom. I hope it will kick her brain up an activity level.

  14. Love the title. Might be a new mantra for me in the morning.

    Never heard anyone mention the importance behind not working to a deadline.

    That one really made me think. Focus on the result you want from the project more than how fast you want to get it done.

    Thank you for the mental shift in perspective Priska

    • Changing this was eye opening for me as I believed that I needed a deadline to complete a project.
      Not so, it can even prevent projects from being completed.
      When something interferes with meeting a deadline you might give up altogether because you feel that you have failed.

  15. Amit, I also had that problem, a mind caught in busyness, that’s why the thought of retirement was so scary.
    Thanks for sharing this with your mum. I will share your post on ‘Self Compassion for Real Men’ on my facebook. I’m sure it will provide valuable insight to the young blokes in my life.

  16. Hi, Margaret here (from A List). Good post. Nice design. Plz leave a comment on my blog! Thanks. BTW, you’re really good at the technical stuff! I’m still struggling.

  17. Wow, you’ve covered so much here for us boomers Priska! I love the brain science parts – it so gives me hope! Forgetting where I put the car keys isn’t so bad if I know I can still rewire my brain to discover and learn new things no matter what my age! And I’m finding that a mindfulness practice helps with that everyday forgetfulness. If I’m in the present I’m much less likely to forget where i put something!

    And “moving on from your story”! What wise advice is this. It makes such a difference if we can even become conscious of what is ‘the story’, rather than just accepting it as rock solid truth.

    • Sarah, I’ve also found mindfulness helpful with the everyday stuff. My mind used to always be planning ahead. No wonder I forgot things, I wasn’t even there.

  18. The 10 ways to rewire you brain are all great advise and I wish I would follow more of them! When you say ‘Stop reading the news and go climb a mountain’ I think it’s a really good metaphor. And not only for exercise :D

  19. Thank you for the science behind your ideas… i.e. brain plasticity as we age, etc.
    Another great book I’d like to recommend along these lines is: “Somebody Should Have Told Us” by Jack Pransky, Ph.D – about using our wisdom from the inside-out and the spiritual nature of the illusion of reality – it’s easy reading and explains it all in simple terms!

    • Thank you for recommending the book, I’ve added it to my wish list as I currently have a pile of books waiting to be read. I am not allowing myself to purchase anymore until I have read what I have.

  20. Great post Priska, very motivational full of great ideas. I always thought I was pretty active doing interesting stuff but with all those suggestions I think there are more things I want to try out! :)

  21. Me too!

  22. Great post, Priska

    I’ve noticed such a difference between aging ‘then’ and aging ‘now’ – and it’s not just down to a different perspective.

    When I was young, people aged 50 started to slow down. They started to wear ‘old people’s’ clothes, and didn’t care for fashion any more (remember crimpolene?!). Old women wore shapeless, flowery dresses. They accepted they were old, and let themselves get fat and unfit. 50 year old men took to wearing trousers that belted just underneath their chest (think Simon Cowell style!) and knitted cardigans. Both sexes wore ‘sensible’ shoes, and became staid in their ways.

    By the time they were ready for retirement they were also ready for the knackers yard (as my dad so succinctly puts it). They walked around bent over zimmer frames and walking sticks, and probably couldn’t walk far at all.

    These days, 50 seems so young (but then I would say that, because I’m 50 next year!). 50 year olds act like 30 year olds used to, 30 years ago. Carefree, full of energy, and still interested in the life they have ahead. Life is so much better, and sometimes I think we don’t stop and appreciate that.

    Back on topic: it is really important to keep your brain healthy, and your list of useful tips is a great start. The mind-body connection is all important – it has been proven that keeping your body healthy (by exercising and eating nutrition-rich food) also keeps your brain healthy and functioning well. As does mindful meditation, stress management, and mental stimulation. With our increasing lifespans this is going to be more and more important. Learning should be seen as a lifelong commitment: we need to make sure that we don’t live by the phrase ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ and instead think ‘you’re never too old to learn’!

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