Jane Fonda, known for her work as an actress and activist, has also taken the stage as an advocate for healthy aging. We aren’t talking about another workout video (though she’s still making them!), but instead her positive outlook on getting to and enjoying late stages of life.
“We’re still living with the old paradigm of age as an arch,” Fonda explains during a 2011 TED talk entitled “Life’s Third Act.” “That’s the metaphor, the old metaphor. You’re born, you peak at midlife and decline into decrepitude. Age as pathology.” Time to break from that paradigm. Instead of an arch, Fonda instead sees life charted as a staircase, with constant new opportunities for emotional growth. Old age, she says, is “a developmental stage of life with its own significance,” an opportunity for “looking inward and discovering sense of self.” So, how does this philosophy apply to our senior sales? As counselors we need to recognize that our prospects are afraid to make a particularly emotional move. They must leave their homes filled with memories and mementos built up throughout a lifetime. The emotional weight attached to their house and possessions is immense, and their ambivalence keeps them stuck, often unable or unwilling to make a decision until they are forced to. This is why, during the sales process, a focus on legacy and life review is crucial to overcoming ambivalence. It can help to determine what the prospect actually finds important in maintaining their identity. By talking with them and guiding the conversation toward these key factors, we can promote a transformative process that may get the prospect to move and will certainly benefit the way they approach life with a more positive and proactive outlook.
“It’s not having experiences that make us wise,” Fonda says, “It’s reflecting on the experiences we’ve had that makes us wise and helps us become whole.”
In order to move forward, we must first look back. “You’re able to free yourself from the past,” Fonda says. By asking the right questions and promoting a better outlook on change, we can guide our prospects to make life-benefiting changes.