How many things are you putting off until you retire?

Sure, your life is busy. There never seems to be enough time to do the things you really want to do. It’s easy to think, “When I’m retired, I’ll have all the time I want for <insert activity here>.”

Hiker at Grand Canyon

To an extent, you’re right. You will have a lot more time to do the things you want after you retire. And it’s good to use these things as incentives to help you look forward to retirement and to better plan for it.

But why postpone happiness until sometime in the future? There’s no lifetime quota on happiness and enjoyment – you can have as much as you want. If you put things off for too long, you may never get to do them, or you may no longer have as much physical or mental capacity to do them.

Today I’m going to suggest seven things that people often postpone, thinking that they will be able to devote time and attention to them once they retire. And I’m going to present a case for why it’s in your best interests to start doing them now, rather than wait.

...continue reading "7 Things You Shouldn’t Put Off Until You Retire"

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Balanced Rocks and Sailboat

Do you sometimes find yourself imagining how you’ll fill your days once you no longer have to work?

During those times when you seem so busy there never seems to be time to do what you want, do you say to yourself, “When I retire, I’ll have lots of time to do this!”

On the other hand, maybe you’re more concerned about what you’re going to do with all that free time. You might even fear that you’ll have nothing to do and be bored.

To be sure, some downtime is good for you. Having some relaxation in each day is healthy, and you’ve earned it!

But it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you’ll spend hours every day doing that one thing you really love and don’t have enough time for now. For example, if you’re an avid golfer you might think to yourself, “When I’m retired, I can play golf every day!” Same thing with anything else – hiking, painting, sewing… you name it.

I used to fantasize that retirement would be total leisure – I would just be able to do whatever fun thing I felt like that day, with hardly a care in the world.

I have a huge collection of jazz and Brazilian records, CDs, and videos that I’ve accumulated throughout my adult life. I now have far more music than I could ever listen to in a year. (Downsizing my collection is one thing I’ll get around to “one of these days,” but that will probably be my hardest thing to downsize.)

I used to think that I would spend all day with music playing in the house, enjoying my vast collection. Of course, my husband Jeff, who isn’t nearly as much of a jazz aficionado as I am, wouldn’t care so much for that. But the obvious reality is that spending all day, every day, listening to music would get old quickly.

The best way to ensure that your retirement years are happy, healthy, and fulfilling is to achieve a balance in your activities.  

...continue reading "4 Essential Ingredients of a Balanced Life – in Retirement and Now!"

Happy crowd-orange sunset

Yesterday, I discovered this inspirational essay about Success, which has been published widely on the internet and in books, but is inaccurately attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

2013-10-13 Success-Emerson

Upon investigation, it appears that this is an adaptation from this essay by Bessie Anderson Stanley from 1904.  She submitted this essay in a contest for inspirational writings and won first prize ($250, which at that time was a lot of money):

2013-10-13 Success-Stanley

Personally, I like the erroneous version a little better, hence my decision to include both.  But aside from all that, it hit home for me because I think it really helps to put perspective on making the transition from my working career into retirement (or as I prefer, “renaissance”).

As I wrote in my earlier posts Happiness Today AND Happiness Tomorrow and Encore! Encore!, some retirees are miserable after they retire because they lack of purpose and meaning in their lives.  These people (and it’s especially true for men) derived all of their sense of self-worth from their work accomplishments.  After they left work, they lost their validation and reason to exist.

Notice that nothing in either of these versions has to be fulfilled by what you do on your job.  Of course, you may make significant contributions on your job – either to the world or to the life of just one person – but that’s not the single path to success.

I’m sharing these essays today with the hope that they will give you a fresh perspective on all that you do with your life today and will do with your life in your retirement or renaissance.

...continue reading "Success"

Yoga on Mountaintop-Sobek

2013-10-09 Alfred Polgar

I recently finished reading “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free” by Ernie J. Zelinski.  Subtitled “Retirement wisdom that you won’t get from your financial advisor,” this is a sequel to his earlier bestseller “The Joy of Not Working.”

Overall, I enjoyed the book and I can enthusiastically recommend it.  Zelinski shares many of the same philosophies about being happy and finding fulfillment in retirement as I do.  The book is profound in some areas, but merely states the obvious (at great length) in others.

If you are still clinging to notion that retirement is a time of decline or boring years of purposeless idle time, much of what Zelinski offers in his book will destroy those perceptions and replace them with a vision that’s much more positive and optimistic.

Zelinski offers four fundamentals for attaining personal fulfillment during retirement:

...continue reading "How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free"

Two guys juggling

2013-07-23 Brian Dyson

I discovered this quote about ten years ago.  It resonated with me then, and it resonates with me now, but in a whole new way.  (By the way, this quote came from a commencement address that Brian Dyson gave at Georgia Tech in 1996.  Read his entire address here – it’s full of wisdom.)

In my last post, I spoke of men and women (but especially men) who are miserable in retirement because they derived all of their sense of self-worth from their work accomplishments.  After they left work, they lost their validation and reason to exist.  They devoted so much of their time, energy and focus on their work that they abandoned all of their hobbies and interests, and their non-work talents atrophied and died.

The same is true of parents who devote themselves so much to their children that they lose themselves.  Then they suffer from “empty nest syndrome” and purposeless retirements.  They may claim that they have no time for themselves, and they may feel selfish and neglectful if they allow any time for their own interests and not their children’s.  A recent article on Gay Star News refutes that belief by claiming that “gay or straight, if you want happy kids, be a happy parent.”

This makes perfect sense.  Kids look to their parents as role models in everything they do.  If their parents are living full, happy lives, their home environment will be happy, and the kids will learn how to live full, happy lives.  If kids see their parents as workaholics or empty, unfulfilled shells of people (or both), the kids will be less likely to grow up to be happy and well-adjusted.

What does this have to do with retirement?  If you choose to live a balanced life during your working years, you will allow time for and nourish your talents and interests.  You’ll have rewarding things to do during retirement.  You will already be in the habit of balance and happiness.  You will have learned to define yourself and value yourself in ways beyond your work accomplishments.  You will be living for your family, health, friends and self more than for your work.

...continue reading "Happiness Today AND Happiness Tomorrow"

Red rose with water droplets - Jul 17 2013

2013-07-17 Desmond Tutu

You’ll probably notice, in just about every article I write, that I am excited about what lies ahead for me in retirement.  My goal in writing this blog, and my hope for you, is that the information and commentary I provide will help you look towards your retirement more enthusiastically.

I have been looking forward to retirement for a long time.  That’s because I have a long list of things I wish I had more time to do – things I would really like to do with my life – if it weren’t for the fact that so many of my waking hours are taken up by my job.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful for my job.  I work for a company that is creating amazing products that have changed, and will continue to change, the world.  They offer great pay and great benefits, and I work with many wonderful people.  I live a nice, comfortable life because of all that.

But it’s not what I really want to do.  It’s not what I’m passionate about.

I look forward to retirement because I envision it as a period of many years in which I can spend my time doing what I want – not what my employer wants.

Over the past few years, as my retirement grows closer, I’ve become an information sponge.  I read books, magazines, web sites, and anything else I can find that talks about planning for a successful retirement.

I realize that most people aren’t going to immerse themselves in learning about retirement to the extent that I have, so in this blog, I’ll pass along all the useful bits of knowledge and wisdom I come across so that you don’t have to.

I have found that 95% of all the information out there is about financial planning for retirement.  And it’s true that we should all be saving money for retirement.

But most information sources stop with that, as if to imply that having sufficient funds is all that is required to have a happy retirement.  We all know that money does not necessarily result in happiness during our work lives, so why are we to think that having enough money to fund retirement will result in a happy retirement?

...continue reading "What Do You Truly Want to Do?"