Ten Qualities of Self-Renewing Adults


People in self-renewal live simple lives. They are awake. They listen. They feel. Their thoughts seem linked to a deep well beneath them and to the skies above, and they are ready to live the truth as they know it, and no less.

-Frederic Hudson, The Adult Years: Mastering the Art of Self Renewal

The other day I grabbed this well-worn (and for me, well-loved) book off the shelf. I’m not sure why, but I’m so glad I did. I was reminded that it was a beacon when I discovered it 10 years ago, lighting the way towards the kind of life I wanted to live and the kind of work I wanted to do.

Although the book was published almost 20 years ago, it’s still as relevant as ever. In fact, I think Hudson was far ahead of his time. He integrated a number of adult development theories and in doing so expanded our understanding of transition and change. He also proposed that adults experience cycles of renewal (with all the requisite peaks and valleys) much more frequently than previously thought, probably every four or five years.

Now that’s a lot of change!

Luckily, Hudson provides deep wisdom about how to maneuver through those cycles. His list of qualities required for continued self-renewal is a gem. Read on:


  1. Are value driven: Committed to values and purpose; Committed to critical priorities; Inspired to live their beliefs.
  2. Are connected to the world around them: Connected to significant others in their support systems; Connected to others in the broader community; Take advantage of art and beauty.
  3. Require solitude and quiet: Plan time for introspection; Look, listen, meditate, and nurture themselves; Honor inner life and outer boundaries.
  4. Pace themselves: Schedule episodic breaks from their routine time; Accept that continued optimal performance is a myth; Continually measure their resilience and energy reserves.
  5. Have contact with nature: Recognize nature as a seminal resource for renewal; Spend time with the sun, stars, wind, rain, mountains & sea; Fill up their senses with the abundance of nature.
  6. Are creative and playful: Actively pursue ways to express themselves; Explore and experiment; Indulge in humor and laughter.
  7. Are adaptive to change: Keep pursuing their best options; Learn to distinguish the essential from the non-essential; Make both firm decisions and firmer redecisions.
  8. Learn from down times: Recognize and accept the dilemmas in their lives; Confident that they can live and learn through dilemmas; High tolerance for ambiguity and disorientation.
  9. Are always in training: Never stop learning; Open and alive to the people they are becoming; Deepening sense of self-mastery.
  10. Are future oriented: Live conscious lives today with intentionality for tomorrow; Connect their current conditions to their desired futures; Engage in curiosity and the excitement of What If?

Personally, I’m still a work in progress, constantly evolving, certainly not yet mastering these 10 qualities. How about you? What works for you? What’s challenging? What’s your favorite on the list? And where are you in your own self-renewal cycle?


Why not start now?

9 thoughts on “Ten Qualities of Self-Renewing Adults

  1. Hi Patty – Although I have had a sense of cycles in my own life, I’ve never really thought about self-renewal quite in this way, but I love the idea! I often feel an up and down movement in my own life and at times it’s frustrated me because I feel I should be more even. The sentence in this post that really stuck out to me is “Accept that continued optimal performance is a myth.” I was thinking along these lines earlier today, and I need a reminder of that sometimes. đŸ™‚

  2. Hi Amanda – I was just talking to my husband on the phone and we were commenting about how we need to keep this list front and center, and I said, “especially the one about optimal performance being a myth.” So I totally agree with you on that. I’m glad to hear that it reminded you that you are “enough” just the way you are. We all are. (Although it’s hard to stay tuned to that). And any personal growth work we do doesn’t come from a should, but rather from our cycles of self-renewal. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Definitely a very inciteful post. We as adults need to focus on changing who we are into becoming the person we wish we were. It may take time, but the risk is always worth the reward. lack of focus, direction and fearful thoughts can keep us back. Yet, we must triumph over such parallels to find the greatness within our souls.

    Sweet post.

    • Hey there, thanks for the comment. I agree…the risk is always worth the reward. Fear is a tough one, though. One of my favorite authors says “fear is an elixir that keeps us on the edge of life.” So for me it’s not so much about triumphing over the fear, but figuring out the good and useful parts of it.

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  8. What tan interesting list – and the notion that one idea is linked so to others that one is not just one but is a list of a few. I like the nature and the living in the moment with future intent.

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