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It’s important we have projects that continually challenge us, keep us busy and engaged. When we are young play and school fulfill this role. As adults, we transition into work and hobbies. Education and employment are most often, however, obligatory. We don’t have to create our own projects, they (or our educators and/or employers), create them for us.

When we reach retirement, however, developing worthy projects becomes increasingly more challenging as we now have to come up with them on our own. Some find this difficult, having relied in the past on a boss or teacher to provide direction regarding what they need or should be doing. Once we are on our own, keeping regular routines that projects most often involve can prove difficult, tedious and demanding. It is too easy to take the easy path and slack off. Projects are work!

But having them, especially in our later years, is important as they keep the mind and body healthy and fit, and ensure we age well and not wane before our time.

I recently was in Canada to visit my father. Over the past few years he has frequently mentioned that he’d like to learn to sail. As we don’t see each other as often as we would like, it was difficult for me to take him sailing as we live in different countries, and sometimes different continents. Frustrated at not making progress with this goal, he decided to turn it into a project and build his own boat so he could teach himself to sail.

IMG_2787So at 83 years of age, he did just that. He obtained plans for a 15′ sailboat to be made of wood and fiberglass, and began building it on his own. When I arrived to Canada he was already 4-5 months into the project with the hull and upper deck already constructed, and had begun applying the fiberglass. And, if all goes well, sometime next spring he should be ready to launch his new boat and finally get the opportunity to sail.

 

My father has always been curious and project-oriented, never one to back down from a good challenge. When he retired a number of years ago he at first found filling the extra hours of the day difficult, as his prior work life had kept him extremely busy. That ended rather suddenly so he now had to find news ways to keep himself occupied. But not for long. Projects soon began to arise and his sailboat is just one in a long line of many he has undertaken and accomplished over the years.

It certainly has kept him young. At 83 he strikes most as being at least ten years younger (Makes me hope I have his genes!). But just in case I don’t, I’m making sure I too have projects to remain healthy and active as he had well into his 80s. For him the 80s are the new 60s.