As frost gathers on the windowsill and we spend more time indoors, there’s often time to reflect. We find ourselves asking questions, upon reaching the end of another year: How has this year gone? Am I happy with where I am? Where am I going in the year to come? And perhaps most importantly, what’s playing at the movies this weekend?
While the movie studios line up their kid-friendly blockbusters for the summertime, they save the best films of the year for the holiday season. So, in this season of introspection, let’s take a cue from the silver screen as we look forward to the year ahead. After all, Christmas time is a season of renewal. What better time to think about where our own life story is taking us?
Is your life a movie? Or a trilogy?
Almost all Hollywood movies follow a simple formula. In Act 1, we get to know the hero and he goes off on an adventure. In Act 2, the hero undergoes his trials and travails, building up to Act 3 — the climax, the most exciting part. That’s followed by the denouement, which is a quieter part that serves to wrap up loose ends. And then the credits roll and the house lights come up.
As we reach a certain age, the temptation is there to think of life as a movie, and that we are living in the denouement. The slowing-down time. The wrapping-up time. But does it have to be that way? Certainly not.
In this day and age, when 60 is the new 50 and 80 is the new 70 and so on, it makes a lot more sense to think of life not as a single movie, but as a trilogy of movies, each with its own trials and travails, peaks and valleys, defeats and victories. If the first film is your childhood and the second film is your working years, why can’t the third film be the most exciting installment in the bunch?
And of course, who says you have to stop at three movies? They made SIX Rocky movies, after all.
What’s Your Elevator Pitch?
Think about this: When movie producers are trying to get a picture made, they talk about it a lot to a lot of different people. They need to explain to financiers why they should loan them money to make the film, why distributors would want to place the film in the theaters, and so on. They find themselves needing to tell the complete story in just a sentence or two to save time. This is called the movie’s “Elevator Pitch” — a telling of the story so short, it can be related in the time it takes to ride an elevator from the top floor to the lobby.
So if your retirement years are the third movie in a trilogy, what would be your Elevator Pitch? It should be short, it should grab your attention, and it should get you excited. It should make you excited about the idea of seeing that movie unfold. Maybe the elevator pitch for your third movie goes something like this:
“From her home in scenic Peoria, our plucky heroine has a series of zany adventures with her wacky friends. She gets into a little mischief, but it all turns out right in the end.”
Or how about…
“Our intrepid hero leaves his old familiar surroundings behind to seek out new horizons, learn things he’d never learned before, and maybe even find a little romance along the way.”
It’s your story. Make it an interesting one!
Assemble Your Focus Group
No movie gets made in a vacuum. No matter how brilliant the screenplay, no matter how talented the director or how attractive the leading man, every movie goes through extensive screenings by “focus groups” — random samplings of the kind of people who are likely to be in the audience.
Focus groups can be very helpful. Their questions and comments can lead to changes and edits that can make the final film stronger. While you’re plotting out the third movie in your trilogy, it can be a good idea to run your ideas by a focus group of your own.
To gather this kind of group together, look for people you trust and who care about you. Try to include at least one person who is more adventuresome than you and at least one person who is less adventuresome than you. (If nothing else, it’ll be fun to watch them roll their eyes at one another.) Whoever you pick, though, make sure they know that whatever you decide, it’s your decision to make. After all, at the end of the day, it’s your movie.
Lights, Camera, Action!
When filming a movie outdoors, camera crews are always worrying about “losing the light” — getting to a later part of the day when it’s getting too dark to get the kind of footage they want. It takes prep work to make a successful movie, but there comes a time when the lights have to pop on, the cameras have to start rolling, and the action has to begin.
So above all else, remember: don’t get so bogged down in the planning that you lose the light. You’ve got magic to make!
If you’re thinking about your future plans, Lutheran Senior Services communities are great places to start. Offering independent living apartments and patio homes, our warm, welcoming campuses offer easy access to assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing should your needs change. For more information or to arrange a visit, click here.