By Rick Banas of Gardant Management Solutions

As you age, is your goal to sit back and relax or to give back?

My question stems from two places – a story that was buzzing in the media a little earlier this month about a retirement community that singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffet is helping to develop and secondly from a talk given by Jarrett Payton, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Walter Payton.

seniors on beach

News outlets, ranging from Rolling Stone to U.S. News and World Report, Good Housekeeping and ABC News ran reports about Latitude Margaritaville, a Buffet-inspired community of homes under development in Daytona Beach, Florida for those who are growing older but are not interested in growing up.

“Your new home in paradise will feature exciting recreation, unmatched dining and FINtastic nightlife,” the website proclaims. It will be a place where “everyday feels like an escape.”

One of the things I love about senior living is that as we are experiencing the explosion in the number of older adults in the U.S., we are seeing a growing variety of housing options becoming available, including themed communities.

I love the idea that Latitude Margaritaville will feature walkable neighborhoods built around a Town Center, where swimming, aerobics and fitness classes will be available. I can see how the idea of escaping to an island paradise will be appealing to many in the Boomer generation.

I, however, will most likely will be looking at other options. While I enjoy singing along to the music of Jimmy Buffet and his Coral Reefer Band, I have never been a Parrot Head – or a Dead Head. As my wife well knows, I never have been able to take more than a few hours of sitting on the beach with my toes dug into the sand, baking in the sun, with or without a drink in my hand.

Don’t get me wrong. I am looking forward, sometime in the future, to when I can replace my work responsibilities with opportunities to spend even more time with my wife and our children and grandchildren; playing golf; and traveling.

I bring up Jarrett Payton because listening to him speak this past Saturday at the Knights of Columbus Day of Renewal at Holy Family parish in Inverness, Illinois, helped reinforce another passion that I want to pursue in my retirement years.

During his presentation, Jarrett talked about his father and about what he feels makes great people so great.

Three of the characteristics he cited were passion, practice and persistence.

“You have to have a passion for what you do,” he said.  “When you are passionate about something, you will always see it through” and “will never want to see it end.”

When it comes to practice, he said he learned so much from his Dad. Walter was only 5’10” and weighed maybe 200 pounds. From the standpoint of natural athletic ability, he should not have been able to accomplish what he accomplished during his 13 seasons in the NFL, playing for the Chicago Bears. To prepare for the season, he would “run up and down, up and down, up and down” what became known as Payton’s Hill, all day long.

Payton’s Hill is located in Arlington Heights, Illinois, just a few miles from where I live. It is now part of the Nickol Knoll Golf Club, where our youngest daughter and I enjoy playing.

“Practice gives you power.” Jarrett emphasized.

Great people are also extremely persistent, he said. “They work harder than anybody else.”

“We all have greatness inside of us,” he added.

Jarrett also talked about how his Dad showed him what it means to give back.

The purpose of his Jarrett Payton Foundation is to positively impact the lives of children and adolescents.

As we age, there is growing evidence that having purpose in our lives is one of the key factors to aging well. Giving back can give purpose. We can give of our time and our talents. We can volunteer, coach, mentor and inspire. We can provide valuable insights based on our years of experience.

As Jarrett mentioned, “making every second count is not a cliché.” If you make every moment count, you will have nothing to look back on and say, I wish I would have.

What are your thoughts?

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