Defining Retirement

Retirement Is Great.

When I first retired I had a great time – for the first 6 months. Then reality hit. I was not on holidays. This was it. I had nothing to do each day and no one expected me to achieve anything (except keep the yard tidy and wash up often)

So, I did what many blokes do and looked around for something to fill me time. But even when I found stuff to keep me busy it wasn’t enough.

My Discovery

Retirement, I eventually discovered, is about more than filling in your time and finding something to do. I found that finding your purpose and living it in retirement, is the key. It can prevent you from learning a number of valuable lessons the hard way including…

  •  Money can’t buy happiness, nor friendship nor good health.
  •  Giving not getting, is the best return on investments.
  •  Personal doubts or regret and relationship issues are the biggest risks to happiness.

They say “the only things guaranteed in life is death and taxes.” But the only guarantee you have in retirement is only one of those, since taxes are often not a part of retirement! The reality is, we will all die and every day in retirement is one day closer to that point. I think that’s a conversation we usually want to avoid, but before you go any further in your retirement, I encourage you to do the exact opposite!

Where to Start?

I can’t find my copy of the book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. But if I remember correctly, since Steven Covey asks you to imagines a picture of the inside of a church from high up. As you look down, you discover it is filled with your family and friends. Then, you realise it’s a funeral – in fact it’s your funeral. He asks “what would you want your family and friends to say about you?” He thinks starting at the end is a great place and will motivate you to change so you will be come more effective and live your best life.

Avoid The Dark Side

Fact is, the dark side of retirement is all-to-real, and requires you to make specific plans to help you avoid the dangers. A successful transition from the workplace to retirement requires you to embrace the fact that for every hour invested in traditional retirement planning an equal amount of time should be spent on issues such as…

  •  Replacing your work identity
  •  Establishing a healthy and active lifestyle
  •  Staying connected with people and involved in their lives
  • Resolving relationship issues before they turn into conflict.

Making the transition into retirement is not easy and goes against many of the beliefs of the world around you. You can’t just plan for it as if it’s a financial event.

Like Steven Covey, I think the place to start, is recognising retirement is the final stage of life and using that as a motivating factor. The truth is, you should never assume you will have unlimited time in retirement to do what you want, when you want. You may never get the chance. You never know when ill health or conflict or loneliness will stop you in your tracks.

Spending on Important Things

When I first began to think that way, I decided I would take my family – 11 of us to Canada for Christmas. It cost me a lot of money, but I’d do it again tomorrow just to see my grandchildren play in the snow for the first time (well maybe the fourth or fifth time by now). Even though my son hurt his ACL in a skiing accident, I think it was the best holiday we have ever had and was worth every cent.

A Meaningful Life

So, give your retirement more meaning by approaching it as if every day could be your last. And get your mind oriented to the important things by creating a no-regrets retirement plan. Take the advice from the nurse Bronnie Ware, who worked with dying people in a hospice. In her book “The Top 5 Regrets of Dying People” she wrote the most common things that people said were:-

  •  I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
  •  I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
  •  I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
  •  I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
  •  I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Bonny finishes her blog about the book with this..

“Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”

Planning Important Things.

Unfortunately, the essential roles that feelings, human needs, and living a purposeful life play in retirement don’t make it into enough retirement planning conversations! Without a plan to manage your life in retirement, retirees can quickly find themselves fighting an unexpected battle – the struggle between their anticipated plans for retirement, like travel, or volunteering and feelings, such as “I don’t feel like it” and “Not right now.”

That makes it more important than ever to not only find something that is timeless, and causes you to gain energy; but to also pay attention to it. Elon Musk was not the first to drive an electric car. Isaac Newton the first to see an apple falling from a tree. It was what they did with these experiences and their focus on it that turned it into real possibilities.

Living With Purpose.

Living a purposeful life is the catalyst that many great people men and women throughout history have used to make the world, their communities, families, and even themselves better than ever before. Discovering your purpose and living it out makes you part of a select group of people that together can dramatically change the concept and norms of life in retirement.

If you want to examine your purpose in life I suggest you get a copy of Rick Warrens best selling book “A Purpose Driven Life”. Wikipedia says he has sold 50 million copies so far. You can get a copy for less than $20. It has been the key to finding and living out things with meaning and purpose for me and I think it will help you too.

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