Category: Leisure and Personal Development

Retirement: This One Thing Will Make it Truly Fulfilling

Retirement: This One Thing Will Make it Truly Fulfilling

How do you manage the change from the fast-paced, highly scheduled, and task-oriented work life to what could be the opposite in retirement? What can you do to live a rewarding retirement life without the structure that guided your work life? Many retirees feel lost and even depressed as they struggle to re-orient themselves in life’s blank canvas called retirement. Here is one solution to help those feeling a little adrift.

 

Build Your Own Personal Retirement Life Plan

 

Not a financial plan, a life plan. Your own personal plan for retirement life. How? Allow me to steal some proven practices for my strategic planning days and show you how to turn your personal dreams into action. Don’t roll your eyes yet!

 

First, Start with Your Dream

 

Most of us dream about the freedom of retirement. Some want to travel, some to relax, and we all relish the day without an alarm clock. That’s a start. I’m sure there’s more. I’m talking about a personal vision. A good vision provides clarity of your direction, your life purpose and of what’s important to you. It guides you to living the life you’ve imagined.

 

Your personal vision is your compass in your life.

 

How do You Create a Personal Vision?

 

The key word is “create”. It’s a creative process in the part of the brain that is visual. Expect it to be a bit fuzzy at first, difficult to articulate with words. It may help to draw your vision. Imagine your ideal life in retirement – your personal Next3rd.

 

What is your picture of your dream life in retirement?

 

Reflect on the life you’d like to lead in retirement. Where are you? Who is with you? What leisure activities or hobbies might you enjoy? What are you learning? How are you investing in your health? How will you help others? What relationships will you nurture? How will you grow personally and be in tune with your spirituality? What’s important to you? What hints of your life’s purpose are emerging?

Jot down some ideas or draw a sketch. Leave it for a while and let your subconscious percolate. Finetune and repeat. Write it down! A paragraph or a page – whatever works for you. Write your vision as descriptively as you can so that you can ‘see’ it in your mind’s eye. It’s OK to be vague. Over time, you’ll gain more clarity. Just get started! Remember, this is personal, you don’t have to share it, but do read it regularly.

 

Stuck? Think about what excited you as a kid. That’s part of who you really are.

 

Second, Set Personal Goals to Reach your Dream

 

Yes, I sound like a strategic planner. Can’t help it. This stuff works!

While your vision may be a little fuzzy, your goals become more specific. Read your personal vision and think of timelines. Within your vision, what would you like to achieve in one year? Three years? Five years? What can you accomplish to move closer to your ideal life?

 

Write 3-5 goals per time frame. Any more and success is less likely.

 

Preferably, your goals are measurable. You can see how you are progressing and adjust along the way. My one-year goals included hiking the Inca Trail. Easy to measure – completed or not! Sometimes goals require adjusting as life surprises us. Finetune them as you need. After an injury, I adjusted my ‘active’ goals to reading and learning goals.

 

Personal goals give you something to work toward and keep you focused on what’s most important.

 

Third, Put the Pedal to the Metal

 

Time for action! Look at your one-year goals and determine what you intend to do in the next 3 months to help you reach your personal goals. I like to give my one year goal a theme to provide some focus for my activities.  It may be helpful to plan your actions at the change of each season. You are creating your own personal action plan to accomplish your goals.

 

Write 2-3 actions per goal to complete for the next 3 months/season and ‘tactics’ of how to complete them.

 

For my Inca Trail goal, I wanted to be in top physical shape and so my ‘tactic’ was to join a gym and hire a personal trainer. Check! Repeat this process of setting new intentions toward your annual goals every season. Watch how your life’s dream becomes clearer and closer to reality! You have something to look forward to in each season.

 

Seasonal action planning fires momentum toward your personal vision and brings focus and intention to your daily life!

 

Finally, Review, Reflect, Repeat!

 

Congratulations! You’ve developed your personal retirement life plan! Keep it alive and relevant by reviewing it frequently. I try to read mine every day and let it guide my weekly To Do list.  This truly helps me live an intentioned life. Reflect on your progress, goals and personal vision. What have you learned about yourself? Do you want to finetune anything?

 

As time goes on, your priorities may change, and that’s perfectly OK!

 

Repeat the process of annual goal-setting and seasonal action-planning and soon it will be a natural rhythm in your retirement life. A rhythm that gives you meaning, some structure, and direction. A fulfilling life is one where our actions and thoughts nourish and sustain our life’s dream!

 

“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis

 

Care to share?

This World Champion’s Tips for a Happy Retirement, RV Style

This World Champion’s Tips for a Happy Retirement, RV Style

World champion dragon boater, RV aficionado, grandmother and free spirit, this semi-retiree is making big lifestyle changes as she embarks on her 7th decade.  With an open mind and new goals to pursue, the open road is calling.  Here are her tips on following your nomadic dreams in retirement.

 

A World Champion … at 69

Mona is rather mild-mannered given her international athletic feats, her adventurous spirit and the big change that is coming her way. It’s her dragon boat accomplishments that get my attention first.

“I just like to be active and I need a goal to work toward.” 

 

That’s a bit of an understatement. Truth?  She began dragon boating for fun about 15 years ago and loved it so much, she wanted to pursue the competitive field.  One problem.  Ottawa didn’t have a dragon boat club, a requirement to compete internationally.  So, Mona, in her 60’s, and a friend started a club. They created a senior C team too! Problem solved!

“We had to find enough people over 60 who where fit, interested and committed.”

 

Fundraising for coaching, early morning and evening practices, and dedicated training lead to gold, silver and bronze medals for her crew this summer at the world championships in Hungary!  “There’s nothing like winning the race!”

 

Big Changes on the Horizon

As much as Mona loves dragon boating, she is hanging up her paddle and on the lookout for a new challenge. “I’m ready for something else.” That’s not the big change though.  The BIG change is something, not everyone could do, but if you do, it can be very liberating.

She and her husband are selling the family home of 39 years.  Selling it and everything in it!  They have decided to buy a large recreational vehicle (RV) which will be their permanent home for the next year or two.  Her new challenge for the moment is emptying the house!  “I think its good for you to move.”

“We’ll be free! We never had trouble trying new things.”

 

No, this is not a rash decision.  They have enjoyed the RV life for a few years, spending half the year on the road.  They’ve made new friends, visited interesting places and kept active with sports and outdoor activities at the RV parks.  Mona still works casually, and can do so remotely from her RV.  They love the flexibility, freedom and the social RV community.

“Rving is a lot of fun, it’s a lifestyle.” 

 

Say What? RV Community?

If you think the RV life can be lonely, think again.  There’s a vibrant community out there of free-spirited people from all over North America.  They are a friendly, helpful bunch.  Mona and her hubby have found their preferred RV parks. Home base for part of the winter.  They take day trips and enjoy the numerous activities and social life available.

Fitness classes, swimming, yoga, pickleball, sewing, woodworking, bike club, hike club, dances, and of course happy hour are just a few examples of the fun, fellow travelers can enjoy.  “It’s very social.”  Mona has already set some goals for her next stay at the park.  I foresee a new pickleball competitor emerging!

“It’s good to meet different people.  We’ve made new friends, stay connected and look forward to seeing them in the winter.”

 

What About Old Friends and Family?

Skype and social media help them stay connected.  Mona and her hubby Skype their grandchild every week.  When they are in town, they make an effort to see old friends and they always come home for Christmas.  The reality is that friends are busy or also away.  You don’t see them as much when you are home anyway.”

“We won’t be doing this forever.  One day we will sell the RV and buy a small home somewhere on the water.”

 

The Secrets to a Happy RV Life?

“Be open-minded.” 

Everyday can bring a new adventure and new friends to meet.  You can hide away in your RV or go out and enjoy the new sights, activities and people around you.  The later brings more fun and new experiences.  Mona was thrilled to experience the largest rodeo in North America while in Texas, something completely different for her.

 

 “Know to how fix things.”

Troubleshoot really.  Things can break down.  An RV is a home on wheels complete with water systems, electrical, heating, etc.  Mona’s had an awning nearly blow off, and a towed car roll off its trailer on the TransCanada! “You need to be healthy enough to fix things. It can be physically demanding.”

 

“You have to like the lifestyle.”

Not sure its for you?  Mona suggests trying it out first. Some of the RV parks have trailers you can rent over the winter.  The type of park you are in makes a difference in terms of the demographics of fellow RVers. “We wanted to be with active people.”

 

“Give each other space.”

To follow their own interests that is.  One of you may want to see one thing, while your spouse may have another interest. Accommodate each other’s interests along the way.  Mona’s hubby swims, while Mona plays pickleball. Speaking of space. Worried about the small quarters?  “If you can live outside, the small space is fine.”

 

Words of Wisdom for a Happy Retirement

“Find what works for you.”

Retirement is a gradual transition out of some activities and the picking up new ones. “Your interests and stamina changes.”

 

“For couples, ensure you are both on the same page.”

When you start retirement, look at the pros and cons of key decisions such as buying an RV.  Each of you make up your own list to see if you are on the same page.  Compromise may be necessary!

 

“We’re very happy in retirement. We always find something to do. “

Care to share?

3 Retirement Lessons from the Inca Trail

3 Retirement Lessons from the Inca Trail

Built in the 1400’s and hidden from the Spanish, this 45km, 4-day trail through the stunning Peruvian mountains to the unforgettable Machu Picchu Inca ruins is a trip of a lifetime. It’s not easy, and it may not be for those expecting 5-star accommodations, but it does cause you to see things with a new lens. Especially when we face one of life’s biggest changes, retirement.

 

 

  1. You Can Do More Than You Think You Can

I wasn’t sure I was up to it.  Hiking in high altitude, from dawn to dusk, for 4 days, sleeping in tents and no showers! Three mountain passes, the highest, aptly named Dead Woman’s Pass, is 4,215m high. I’ve never been that high, and my body is, you know… ageing.  Old sports injuries are ever present along with other aches and pains, and you just didn’t know how you’d react to the very high altitude.  Could I keep up?

But, I had a list.  60 Things to Do Before I Turn 60.  Hike the Inca Trail was the BIG stretch goal.  Time to put my dream to action.  Enter Jocelyn, my energetic, tough, but encouraging physical trainer.  She helped me overcome injuries, strengthen the bod, and build up my cardio capacity.  More importantly, she helped my mindset.

“You’re not old. You can do this!  Age is just a number.”

 

She would remind me, when I would doubt injury recovery, and question my ability to do this trek.  She was right!  Going to the gym, raised my confidence level, but the big test was on the mountain.  I was the oldest of our group and I could keep up!   I did it!  Completing this trek, helped me realize I can do more!

I will never forget that exhilarating feeling of reaching the top of Dead Woman’s Pass and ‘whooping’ as loud as I could over the Andes mountains! 

 

 

  1. The Right Tribe is Uplifting

“We are a family”, Rudy, our outstanding trek guide told our group of nine people, aged 22 to almost 60, and of various backgrounds and nationalities.   “We stick together and remember, PMA – positive mental attitude.”  That was our mantra for the four days of personal challenge for all of us. It worked. No need for competition, no race to the top. No one left behind.

We started out as strangers with different reasons for doing the trek, and we ended as a ‘family’ with a special bond after sharing a remarkable experience together.  We supported and encouraged each other through altitude sickness, travellers’ bellies, sore knees, the cold nights and a cold.  Snacks, meds and other remedies were shared (thankfully one trekker was a nurse) along with the local wisdom of our guide.   We enjoyed coca tea happy hour and Peruvian meals together in the dining tent, along with laughs, stories and a collective awe of where we were!

We made it to the beautiful wonder of the world, Machu Picchu, together, each of us uplifted and happy for each other!

 

 

  1. Travel is Sooooo Good For You

Especially in our next 3rd stage of life.  It causes us to be adaptable, open and curious. It puts our minds to work, researching sites, planning itineraries, or understanding different languages and protocols.  It can also test our stress resilience!

We learned so much on our trek through the Andes, while our comfort levels were tested. I was amazed at the marvels of Inca architecture and engineering on steep mountain slopes. We were introduced to the local culture, history and customs thanks to our valuable Andean guide and the local village people. Praying to the Sun and Mother Earth for good karma on our trek, eating alpaca and guinea pig, and of course sipping Pisco Sour, the tasty national cocktail.

Yet, we had to forgo our first world comfort and even sanitation expectations. (Always carry your own TP and hand sanitizer!)  Things we take for granted, like a seated toilet, were luxuries, but the magnificent mountain views, the Inca ruins, the starry night skies and the friendly people were definitely worth it!

The beauty of the place and the Inca civilization reminded me of how truly amazing this planet is.  I’m inspired to see more!

 

Remember this When Pondering Retirement

Check your attitudes to ageing, retirement and your ability.  You CAN do it!

Nurture tribes that uplift you.  Choose PMA people!

Travel – not just in a comfy way, but out of your comfort zone.  Let the world amaze you!

Care to share?

Retirees: Are You Unknowingly Accepting an Ageist Bias?

Retirees: Are You Unknowingly Accepting an Ageist Bias?

You aren’t really over the hill, are you?  Do you believe your best years are behind you?  Are you holding back from doing things you love because of fear or worry?  It’s easy to do, given our culture’s tendency to value youth and dismiss retirement as a “less than” life.  Here’s how to change that lens.

 

What’s More Valuable, Your Younger You or You Today?

That’s a loaded question.  And the crux of society’s ageist bias.  Sure, your younger body might have been able to do more, faster and that was great for that time.  Now, you are wiser, and your unique individuality is shining through.  Perfect for this time.  Want to be happy in retirement?  Stop comparing you today to your younger you.  Just stop – you’re comparing apples to oranges.  Start recognizing that now is the best time of your life!

“Age is perhaps the most inaccurate measure of personal identity, capabilities, intelligence, pace and stamina.”  Dr. Richard Johnson

 

Luster or Lack-luster?

Listen to yourself.  Are you complaining about your aches and pains and how difficult things are?  Are you reminiscing of your good old days… a lot?  Are you worried about tomorrow and what might happen?  Have you turned into a know-it-all cynic?  Or, are you excited about your hobby, committed to a special project, exhilarated by reaching new goals?  The difference is luster.

Yes, you’ve still got it baby!  That zest and vitality comes from being fully engaged in life today. Optimism, enthusiasm, humour, adaptability, balance and your uniqueness are elements that give you luster.  Being content in your life right now, is one of 15 success factors for a happy retirement identified by Dr. Johnson, expert on retirement and adult development.  (He calls it “current life stage satisfaction”.)  Check out this post on 7 habits to happiness, or this one on how to find your new purpose to shine up your luster.

“Don’t ever lose your luster!” Earl Nightingale

 

Live Fully in the Now

You’ve heard this, probably many times, but it can be hard to do.  It takes practice for some of us, and we must continually remind ourselves to be fully present in life right now. We can’t change the past and we can’t predict the future, but we can seize today.

“Yesterday is a cancelled cheque, tomorrow is promised to no-one.  All we really have is right now.”   Dr. Wayne Dyer

 

Retirement can bring you so many possibilities if you are open to them. It is a time for personal development, and taking on new learning, hobbies or leisure activities.  It’s a time to reflect on and live your life’s purpose and truly savour meaningful relationships.  Best of all, it’s a time to honour your uniqueness and spark your sizzle!   It really can be the best time of your life!

Care to share?

Retirement: One Trait Needed to Live the Life You Dreamed

Retirement: One Trait Needed to Live the Life You Dreamed

There is one trait you will want to embrace that will make the difference between a listless retirement and one that fulfills you.  It’s a skill you likely practiced daily in your work career, but may have lost the opportunity to do so in retirement.  It marks the difference between the ‘old’ retirement – that of the rocking chair life, and the new retirement which is as unique as you.

 

 Lost Opportunity

At work we had the opportunity in some way to take charge of our tasks, our schedule, our day to varying degrees.  How you formulate your presentations, how you finesse your sales pitch, or how you solve the problem of the day. You find a way to apply your uniqueness in carrying out your role at work.

In retirement, we lose the opportunity, not the skill, to direct activities our way.  We may no longer have important problems to solve or people to collaborate with.  We lose the opportunity to organize how we work and what we do in a meaningful way. We may feel a little lost, inferior and directionless.

“If you take away one’s ability to make decisions, you take away their life force.”  Dr. Richard Richardson

 

You’re at Risk if…

You are used to other people planning your activities.  We all need some degree of order and organization in our lives.  Some of us let others decide for us and we follow along. Our social agenda, household budget, and leisure time are just some items that can be organized by others. We may amble through life without expressing our own uniqueness.

We run the risk of living a life designed by someone else.

 

 The Trait that Makes the Difference

 Want more from your retirement?  A good dose of ‘self-directedness’ is the cure.  Yes, that ability to map your own direction, purpose and attitudes. Self-directedness is one of the 15 retirement success factors determined by Dr. Johnson’s research, founder of Retirement Options.

Be the captain of your own ship on your journey of personal growth. 

 

Yes, that means taking charge of your retirement.  Don’t just sit back in that rocking chair and let it happen.   Get up and make the choices that fulfill you … and act on them!  It’s about designing your own, unique retirement plan and/or one that suits both you and your partner.  Reflect on how you will find a new purpose in life (learn how in this post).  What personal growth do you want to explore?  What hobbies and leisure activities peak your interest?  What will bring you life satisfaction?  It’s your life, plan it your way!

 

One Word of Caution

A little bit of flexibility goes a long way.  Let’s not be so focused on our own goals that we bull-doze over our partner’s or love ones’.  We don’t want to be that stubborn old person, who says “my way or the highway”!  Right?

Care to share?

Boomers: 3 Posts to Start 2018 Right

Boomers: 3 Posts to Start 2018 Right

Your health, happiness and retirement are likely on your mind if you are a baby-boomer. As we move into the third stage of our lives, our ‘next third’, we are facing considerable changes and likely some uncertainty.  How will my health hold out?  Am I ready to retire?  What will I do to be happy and fulfilled?  Here are three posts from the Next3rd blog that will help you set your intentions for 2018:

 


Over 50? How to Reboot your Bod

You may have been blessed with good health until now or perhaps those aches, pains and extra pounds are starting to hamper you. Either way, now is the time to pay more attention to your health.  Study after study, tell us that exercise and good nutrition help us age well.

This post highlights tips from the insightful and practical book series “Younger Next Year” by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. Chris is now in his 80’s, physically active and seems to be building a new business full of purpose.  Need more inspiration?  Read about Dave, a former engineer turned triathlete coach in his early retirement in this post! (Two posts for the price of one!)

 

Ready to Retire? 15 Success Factors

You may think your retirement will be a permanent vacation, but think twice.  Retirement brings some of the biggest changes in our lives.  As we age, we may become more resistant to change and thus live a life fraught with fear, resentment or even depression.  Loss of identity and purpose, neglected relationships, and rigid mindsets are some of the pitfalls that can seep into our retirement years.

This post highlights key factors that enable a successful, fulfilling retirement to help us live life’s third act with zest and vitality.  I have been dedicating individual posts to each retirement success factor over the past year.  Six more to explore!  Dreaming of your ideal retirement? Learn from Sue and Dean, who sold their home to sail away in their retirement in this post.  (Yep, another 2 for 1 deal.)

 

 

7 Habits to Create a Happy Retirement, a Happy Life

As we age, we return to our own individuality.  We care less about fitting the mould and towing the corporate line.  Recognizing that money can’t buy happiness, we begin to look beyond our careers for life satisfaction.  Perhaps its releasing your pent-up creativity, or pursuing new leisure activities, or just re-connecting with old friends.

This post explores the six arenas of life that contribute to life satisfaction identified through research on adult development.  It also offers seven habits that can truly create more happiness in your life based on recent research on happiness.  One habit for each day.  Look at that!  A new, easy daily practice for you.  Want to meet someone who made big changes for a happier life?  Read about Marlene in this post.  You’ll be inspired!  (2 for 1 again!)

 

Happy New Year!  I hope that this and other Next3rd blog posts inform and inspire you to live your best life in your next third.

Care to share?

Retirement: How to Find Purpose After Career

Retirement: How to Find Purpose After Career

Our career gave us purpose, goals, growth and tasks on which to focus.  Yet, research has shown, we still need a sense of purpose after our careers to live a rich and satisfying life.  Retirement gives us a new opportunity to discover what truly sparks our vitality, but many career-hardened boomers struggle in this endeavour.  Here is a valuable approach to discover your new purpose.  Get ready for that “aha” moment!

 


Why Purpose?

I can see some of you rolling your eyes.  I’ve had a few skeptics in my strategic planning sessions who thought discovering the organization’s core purpose was a waste of time.  Au contraire.  Knowing your true mission saves you time.  It gives you direction, helps you in decision-making and gives focus on how to spend your efforts, energy, and resources.

Do you volunteer for this or that group?  Do you invest in this or that activity?  Do you spend time with these people or those?  How do you apply your skills and talents? How do you grow? How will you spend your time?

More importantly, research has shown that your overall wellness is linked to having purpose and meaning in life. A purposeless life can lead to depression and is often expressed as “frustration, anger, a feeling of worthlessness and internal angst” explains Dr. Peter Johnson, co-flounder of Retirement Options. Working toward something that is important to you, energizes you and fires your vitality.  It gives meaning to your life.  Isn’t that the ultimate goal in our 3rd act of life, our Next3rd?

 

“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.” 

– Viktor E. Frankl

 

 

Yours to Discover

Your purpose is in there, inside you already.  It probably has been buried since childhood, covered with external demands and tasks asked of others over the years.  Now you can mine it. Let’s go digging.  It may be muddy at first, but over time and with focus, your purpose will become clearer.

 

 

The Venn Diagram Approach

Andy Stanley reminded us to reflect on ‘why we are here’ in the 2017 Leadercast “Powered by Purpose” conference. For those less into existential thinking, his simple Venn Diagram just might hit home.

 

 

“Instead of asking what am I most passionate about, ask what breaks my heart?’” 

– Andy Stanley

 

“What breaks your heart?” That’s hitting the bone. Your answer will give you insights into what you truly care about and what problems you may be inspired to help solve.  Your first seeds of your life’s purpose.

Take an inventory of your skills, talents and wisdom that you can offer.  Revisit those personality profiles you may have completed in the past for more insights. How can you apply your gifts to the problems or challenges you’ve noted above?  You may want to do something completely different than in your past career.  This is your opportunity to bring out the real authentic you.

Who were you thinking of when examining what breaks your heart? Troubled kids, the polar bears, your family?  Who can you help by applying your gifts?

 

Meaning in life often comes from serving others.

 

What is the overlap or the intersection between these spheres of what breaks your heart, your gifts and who needs your help?  What is at the centre of your Purpose Venn Diagram?  There’s your first iteration of your current life purpose!  Is that “aha” that I hear?

 

Just Do It

Congratulations.  You’ve planted a seed to your life’s purpose and meaning.  Now act on it.  It’s not the thought that counts so much as the action driven by that seed that gives you life meaning.  It’s an iterative process.  As you act to fulfill your life’s purpose, your mission and life meaning become clearer.  Enjoy the quest!

 

Purpose feeds action.  Action feeds meaning.

 

Care to share?

7 Habits to Create a Happy Retirement, a Happy Life

7 Habits to Create a Happy Retirement, a Happy Life

What makes you happy now?  What will make you happy in retirement?  Are you waiting for something to happen first, or someone to do something, and then you’ll be content? Ancient wisdom and current science tell us that “happiness is an inside job”.  No need to wait to be happy, you can start now with these seven simple practices!

 

What is Happiness?

Dr. Richard Johnson, founder of Retirement Options and expert on adult development and gerontology describes the extent of our happiness as:

“The degree to which we experience a sense of delight, fulfillment, pleasure, contentment, and a sense of rightness in all arenas of life”

 

It’s in our genes, or not.  It’s in our attitudes and beliefs, or not.  According to Dr. Amit Sood, renowned expert on stress and resiliency, Mayo Clinic professor, and author of The Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness”, 50% of our happiness depends on our conscious choices.

“Happiness can become an enduring habit.” Dr. Sood

 

All Arenas of Life?

Really?  Yep, we’re talking life balance.   Research has identified six key facets of life that when attended to, lead you to fulfilling life satisfaction and a successful retirement.  We need all six in our life to varying degrees and when one or more is neglected, and another is all consuming, we are out of sync and our bodies are under stress.  Stress at the cellular level.  Excessive stress is not happiness.

We need a purpose; our meaningful work, be it paid or unpaid. Healthy family relations let us give and receive love. Social relations, from close friends to casual interactions with strangers, keep us engaged in the fabric of life.  Pursuing personal growth, health, and well-being opens our minds and possibilities.  Having a sense of connection to a higher power brings peace, awe and wonder. Leisure brings entertainment and rejuvenation, and yes is a need!

“Happiness is what happens to us, when we attend well to all the arenas of our life”. Dr. Johnson

 

Be like Yoda

When we pay attention to the six life arenas, we can become like Yoda. Centered. Grounded. We are more emotionally resilient, have better focus, are more fully present and healthful.  Content. Fulfilled.  How can we get there? That brings us back to “conscious choice”.

 

One Habit a Day

To help us become more mindful, calmer and content, Dr. Sood has identified seven practices that can lead to a happier life.  He suggests practicing one a day so they become enduring habits.  Take a few moments each morning, close your eyes and focus on the practice for the day.

Monday – Gratitude: Focus on the gifts in your life; re-frame the negatives to the positives.

Tuesday – Compassion: Recognize everyone has struggles; be kind, be helpful, not critical.

Wednesday – Acceptance:  We are all works in progress, imperfect. Let it go, be fair.

Thursday – Meaning: What is important about the gifts of today? Who can you be of service to, how?

Friday – Forgiveness:  Yourself and others. Focus on life’s higher meaning and not hurt.

Saturday – Celebration: Honour others and yourself. Bring out the joy.

Sunday – Reflection: Prayer, meditation, quiet connection to a higher power. Be calm.

 

Try it!  I did and do, and have noticed that I do feel more content and less anxious.   Happiness really is an inside job!

 

Care to share?

How Not to Be Archie Bunker in Retirement

How Not to Be Archie Bunker in Retirement

Remember Archie of the TV sit-com “All in a Family”?  That narrow-minded, opinionated, grey-haired guy in the armchair barking orders to his wife, Edith?  As we age and move into retirement, we run the risk of becoming that ‘grumpy old person’.  Unless, we develop a certain trait.


Lessons from Darwin

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution taught us that we must adapt to survive.  Dr. Johnson, a leading expert on adult development and gerontology agrees.  He has identified adaptability, the personal flexibility you can exercise at any given time in any given situation, as a key factor for retirement success.  We must adapt not only to survive, but to thrive in retirement.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” —Charles Darwin

 

Ch Ch Ch Changes…

Won’t stop in retirement.

Contrary to common perceptions, we will likely experience more change in retirement than any other time in our life.

Our body changes and will keep changing. Our lifestyle changes significantly as we end the formal work chapter. We will face changes in our family, from the loss of parents or perhaps a spouse, to the addition of sons or daughters-in-law and perhaps grandchildren.  We may move out of the family home, or to a new community; our social circles will change.  New interests, hobbies and leisure activities may emerge and perhaps your purpose in life will evolve.

Add to these, changes in technology, social norms, politics, demographics, the economy, the environment and other macro influences, and you get the picture.  Change is everywhere, all the time. When we fear or resist change, we seek sameness, search for that elusive certainty and security, and revert to rigid schedules.  We fall into a rut.  We get stale.  We become Archie!

 Adapting to change, not resisting or hiding from it, is the ticket to a smooth retirement ride.

 

How to Be More Adaptable

My yoga teacher uses the word, ‘release’ versus ‘stretch’ and that is how I would sum up adaptability.  You’ve got to let it go, not force the stretch.  To be more adaptable, we may need to change our attitude, decisions and actions.  It will likely mean letting go of the need for control and certainty and having faith that you, and the world, will be OK.

To be more adaptable means to be more:

  • Accepting than critical
  • Agreeable than argumentative
  • Forgiving than judging
  • Pleasant than harsh
  • Calming than upsetting

Doesn’t that sound like the perfect, wise elder?  The anti-Archie!

 

Start Removing that Crust

I admit it. I can be a tad crusty as I age.  A bit fixed in my opinions and view of the world. Maybe it’s the “I’ve seen/done that before” cynicism that’s creeping in.  Before we know it, we are encased in a thick crust of inflexibility.  Just like Archie.  It’s takes a conscious effort to remain flexible, malleable and adaptable, but we can do it.  When, we do, our life is richer, interesting and happier.

Care to share?

Want to Sail Away in Retirement? Read This First

Want to Sail Away in Retirement? Read This First

Dreaming of sailing on turquoise waters when you retire?  This adventurous couple set their retirement plan in motion and fulfilled this lifelong dream.  How did they fare? Here are the lessons they learned…

 

You Know What They Say About Plans…

Dean and Sue Pope are an articulate, open and thoughtful couple.  Avid boaters, they had a plan for their retirement.  Sell their home, buy the right boat, and sail the Caribbean for five years.  They did their research and calculated the financial impact of this dream.  Dean would work 3-4 more years before acting on their exciting retirement plan.

Then, changes at Dean’s work brought an opportunity for early retirement. Their retirement dream was accelerated significantly.  Boat shopping began a few years earlier than expected.  Their first assumption, the timing of their plan, … adjusted.

 

“Every assumption we made, turned out to be wrong.”

 

Other assumptions?  Exchange rates, price of gas, costs of goods and boat maintenance to name a few.  Their budget and expectations were regularly adjusted.  I am reminded how adaptability is a key factor to retirement success!

 

Life Happens

The Popes also assumed it would be five years before they became grandparents, hence the five-year boating plan.  That family blessing came in three years!  Sadly, a week after signing the boat deal, Sue’s father passed away unexpectedly.  A very rough start to the retirement dream.  Although difficult, Sue and Dean persevered and continued with their plan.

 

“The thing about dreams like ours is that they have a realistic undertone you don’t see when you are dreaming.”

 

The couple enjoyed the care-free boating life and met many friendly boaters on their travels. Yet, the reality of their new lifestyle meant they were far away from good friends and family.  “You can’t just pick up and go home for a birthday.”  Having the right communications technology helped.  They also invited close friends for winter visits to share the beauty of their boating experience.

 

So Much Learning and Refined Priorities

Sue and Dean prepared as much as they could for their retirement adventure.  Yet as Sue says, “you just have to do it” and learn along the way.  New challenges and new experiences brought them much nautical and boating wisdom. The nitty gritty of living in a foreign country expanded their perspective too. They also learned about themselves.

Being away from family and close friends for an extended period helped Sue and particularly Dean reset their priorities.

 

We don’t take much for granted now. We learned nothing is for ever, enjoy it while you can.”

 

The arrival of their grandson was the deciding factor in shortening their adventure by two years to come home. Their boating experience inspired them to be more engaged grandparents.  They chose to live in a new community that is closer to their children and their good friends, and are fully enjoying their loved ones. “We are content.”

 

Retirement is a Process, not a Thing

The Popes refer to their boating dream as their first phase of retirement. Now they are working on Retirement 2.0.  While family and friends are a priority in this phase, they are exploring more.

 

“We have to re-invent ourselves again and need our own life in addition to family.”

 

Sue and Dean are getting involved in their new community and charting what they will do next to keep ‘adventuring’.  I can hear the enthusiasm in their voices.  They are enjoying life.

 

Words of Wisdom

Sue: “You need to have a plan when you retire, something to work on and keep you busy. Otherwise, you can be lost in the beginning.”

Dean: “Every assumption is going to end up being different.  You need to be nimble and roll with the punches.  You will need financial capability.”

Both Sue and Dean are happy they pursued their boating dream in retirement. I’m happy they shared their story with us!  As Sue says…

 

 “Seeing it from the water is a lovely way to see the world.”

 

Care to share?