Choose To Be Better at 70 — And Start Now

Rick Kraft

I KNOW about you. Today is the oldest you have ever been in your entire life. You are a day older today than you were yesterday.

You have already lived a bunch of yesterdays and you don’t know how many more tomorrows you have.

I also know today is the youngest you will ever be, and when today is done, you have one less day to live. Am I right so far?

So what are you going to do with the time that you have left?

I recently attended a conference in Atlanta, and the topic of one of the presentations was, “Life is better at 70.” Most of you have not arrived there yet, but someday you likely will.

God willing, I will reach this milestone in nine years.

A speaker talked about his father. His father said that his life was better at 70. He had the best relationship he had ever had with God, his wife, his children and his friends. He was more generous, more secure, and was experiencing a high quality of life. He was thankful he was not where he used to be.

Bottom line, he was the best version ever of himself!

An important goal he still had was to finish strong. He was well on his way to doing so. Because of repeated good choices, he was the happiest he had ever been.

The father pictured life as golfing a hole backward. You begin with the ball dropping in the hole and then you work backward on how to get there from the point you are at.

He said his life has never been about being perfect or measuring himself against perfection, but merely being his best every day. Each day he had the opportunity to become a better person and to grow. He had the chance to make a difference in others’ lives.

He said everyone wants to arrive, but no one wants to take the trip. He recommended that you never stop moving. At 70, he chose to be thankful for small steps that he completely missed in earlier years. He had chosen to relax more and to enjoy his journey.

He talked about pouring his life into those who followed behind him. He said mentoring those younger than him was important. A mentor lives “a few screens ahead.” You can mentor one-on-one or mentor more from a distance through writing or speaking publicly.

To successfully mentor, you must have a student willing to be mentored. The world is full of individuals who are “works in progress” and who want someone to pour themselves into their lives. The trick is to match up senior mentors with younger mentees.

When a father dies, all the wisdom within him dies with him unless he has passed it on verbally or in writing. Of course, the model of how he lived his life will live on to those who observed him over the years. But how do you maximize the value of a senior unless you are intentional about setting up opportunities to pass his wisdom?

A healthy person has mentors a generation or two older than him, individuals beside him who are working with him for a common cause, and a generation behind him he is training.

It is common for the elderly to experience loneliness in their later years. The father told his son about the importance of community. Community is having friends; having a support group. This is necessary to avoid being lonely. You have to be a friend to have a friend.

The sum total of the leadership segment presented was living intentionally. To me, it is the difference between being proactive and reactive. It is easy at any age to claim “victim” status, put on a sad face, look down and say, “woe is me.” This is a selfish attitude where we blame others for where our life is today.

The better choice is to have an attitude that your life is not about you. The best way out of loneliness or depression it to take action to do something for someone else. If your legs don’t work, then use your words. If you can’t travel, then use your phone.

At any level of our life, we should be giving as much as we are able, to pass on the blessings we have received. This should include our time and our talents.

My challenge to you today is to be better at age 70. Start today. Assume you will make it to 70. Even if you don’t, you will be a better person in the years you have left.

Wake up each morning and tell yourself you are going to be the best version of you today. You have maybe 16 to 18 hours to accomplish this before putting your head back on your pillow and forever closing out your day. Don’t strive to be perfect, but make good individual choices to be better than you were yesterday.

Each day strive to improve and grow. Improve your relationships and learn something new. Use your gift set to mentor others to leave behind something when you are gone.

If you do this repeatedly each day in your life now, someday you will be better at 70.

Just a thought …

Rick Kraft, a South Pasadena High School graduate, is a syndicated columnist, motivational speaker, published author and attorney. To submit comments, contributions or ideas, e-mail to