You can use the 70 looking back is a tool to help identify the really important things in your life.

I have used this focus area with my own coaching clients  and it was a variation on one of the tools recommended as part of my Integral Coach training . I did the 70 looking back exercise with my husband Shannon.

What I did:

Its just like the name says: I imagined I was 70 looking back on my life! For a few minutes I imagined my life post retirement and asked the question “what do I want my life to look like’? I had just done the Wheel of Life exercise so I used the dimensions from the wheel to guide my thinking. I thought about the future and asked myself:

  • Business and career:

    • Question: Will I be working and, if so as what?
    • Answer: I’m not sure what it will be but I want to work for love not money. I imagine doing something where I am donating my time and expertise. I imagine working as a way to create interest and routine – for example having a shift at a local library.
  • Finances
    70 looking back living by the sea

    • Question: Is my current level of saving / investing sufficient for the kind of life I want to lead?
    • Answer: I didn’t come up with a monetary value but I do have a a routine meeting with my financial planner and am comfortable that between myself and my husband we are currently “on track”.
  • Health

    • Question: What do we want physically.
    • Answer: This one was a nice surprise. Improving my health and fitness was a major focus areas for me back in 2013 and one reflection I feel really good about my current health and changes I’ve made that will ensure health going forward. I did determine that I don’t want to live in a city but being in a areas with good health care is part of the plan.
  • Family and friends

    • Question: Who do I want to be with:
    • Answer: My husband. We’d like to be able to visit our kids, where ever they end up being but mainly we’d like to be together. With dogs. Lots of dogs.
  • Romance

    • See above 🙂
  • Fun and recreation

    • Question what I want to be doing for fun.
    • Answer: walking on the beach. With dogs. Lots of dogs. And to be able to travel overseas once a year.
  •  Physical environment

    • 70 looking back living by the sea
      Question: what will our home look like
    • Answer: Somewhere small, in a secure environment and by the coast. With dogs. Lots of dogs.


What was the impact?:

I felt a great impact from doing the  70 looking back activity. When I combined it with the Wheel of Life exercise, the 70 looking back tool gave me the opportunity to see and celebrate the areas of my life that are in service of the future I want.

I also had an opportunity to plan the areas where I want to focus more or change direction. I definitely had an injection of energy thinking about the future. The notion that some things that were a realy challenge a few years ago and are now so good I don’t think about them made me feel both prouf of my efforts and celebratory.

Shannon and I put together a to do list of things we want, here some of the things I included:

  • I made a decision to say “no” to more work that involves routine travel
  • I made a commitment to including family members more often when I walk each day
  • I made a commitment to find new “mini adventures” for Shannon and I to try new things every other month
  • We made a list of some unnecessary expenses and set about cancelling and reducing them
  • We made a long overdue appointment with the dentist
  • I made a commitment to close out of a piece of work I thought I would be involved in but have decided I won’t be doing
  • I made a list of some home repairs the need completing



Mostly sunny.


Why the 70 looking back tool works for increasing happiness:

When you make decisions you use the ventrolateral  frontal cortex part of the brain.  What functional MRI’s tell us is that when the frontal cortex part of your brain is being used it diminishes activity in your amygdala (and vice versa). This is important because your amygdala is the part of your brain associated with the flight/fight/freeze. When you participate in decision-making activities (provided they are low stress) they can help you switch off your stress response and divert your energy to your brain’s higher functions.

Long term planning can also help you transcend your day to day activities and get you thinking about your “big picture”. Having a life that feels purposeful has been linked to increasing your happiness too.



How you can use this tool.

The 70 looking back activity is a good reflection for you whenever you feel like you might want to make some changes. You should find a quiet spot where you want be disturbed. Now imagine that you are 70. Think about what you will be doing, where you will be and who you will be with. Try to spend time really thinking about what your optimal life will be like. Use you journal to make a one of your reflections. Once you have created a rich picture of the future you can consider what you need to start, stop or continuing doing to build this life.

You can also do this exercise for being 95 – you might find you come up with more philosophical answers.

If you’d like to try this activity you can  used the 70 looking back activity sheet sheet.


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