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In this ongoing series, LIFE IN FULL, we are writing to Baby Boomers (those of us in our 50s, 60s, and 70s) about how to maximize our Longevity and our Legacy. Find new episodes here every Tuesday and Thursday, and read the overview and catch up on earlier articles in this series by clicking here.

We are writing this week from Australia and lets face it, change is hard. Time change, jet lag, different customs, different stars in the sky. It reminds us that change is the hardest thing. Even changing our ideas about what and who we want to be is hard. Our brain and our body resist change. But giving in to either of them is like giving them license to slow down and atrophy and weaken. Real change takes time and deliberate concentration.

We will change; we do change in the autumn of our lives. It is inevitable, but if we make no effort to orchestrate the change, it will all fall within the category of decay.

Things like change and growth and progress are only scary if we try to do them too fast or too abruptly. The best way to transition into autumn is to do it naturally and gradually, the way a leaf changes color.

In our personal experience, and with all the Boomers we have worked with, we find that the easiest, simplest, least scary and best place to start is simply to set up some folders. Folders are just places you keep track of things that matter to you or that you think will someday matter. You might think of these as the traditional manila old-school file folders. Or you might think of them as new folders in the email or document section of your computer. Others may want to simply create some separate sections in a “creation” book of blank paper where they can jot down ideas or inputs for each of the things you think will matter. In any case, setting up some files is quick and easy. You don’t have to have anything at all in them for now. Just establish them up and label them.

The idea is to have a folder for each of the things that are going to matter most to you over the next 20 years—so that they become a place to collect ideas and to keep track of where you are going and how you are getting there.

Here are the nine folders we think each of us needs as we start to shape the next 20 years of our lives:

  • “Possibilities Folder”
  • “Character Folder”
  • “Health Folder”
  • “Wealth Folder”
  • “Faith Folder”
  • “Family and Relationships Folder”
  • “Grandkids Folder”
  • “Service and Legacy Folder”
  • “Autobiography Folder”

The first step is just to set up the ten folders. Empty folders are better than no folders at all. For now, just let them sit there as potential attractors of ideas.

As you live your day to day life, you will find things you want to put in each folder. And as each of the folders becomes “active” and has a few contents, it will surprise you how it grows. Ideas begat ideas, and the tenth idea is always much easier to come by than the first.

There is no deadline and no criteria or set of requirements. Just put into each folder thoughts that appeal to you. Review them once in a while and let them grow out of their own momentum. It may be ten or twenty years before you implement some of the ideas or options, and that is just fine because you are spiritually or conceptually creating them as you collect them.

Good luck with those folders! And tune in again Thursday as we go deeper into one of the folders—the Grandkids one!