Prepare yourself for retirement. Although financial planning significantly plays a part of your life, there is more to successful retirement than money. I say this because I know a lot of people who have more money than I and are constantly complaining. And I know a lot of people who have less money than I and are constantly in good humor. And I know people who are visa versa. So money cannot be the sum total of the retirement solution.
After a year of official retirement, I recommend you do more than financial planning. While retirement funds are a good idea if everything works out with your investments, just like money doesn’t grow on trees, happiness doesn’t necessarily grow on money. I have found seven skills to enhance my retirement fund now and in the future.
My one-year-anniversary of retirement makes me somewhat of an expert rather than a statistician. This last year was the best of times and the worst of times. On many levels I felt I was all alone, forgotten. I felt guilty for staying home with the potential for inactivity. I read statistics: career workers die within 5 years of retirement. It was an uncomfortable time. Was I now the old gray mare put out to pasture. Yet, on other levels I delighted in the free time with new ideas and skills. I explored the art of cooking, the childlike curiosity of playing the piano, the warmth of spending time with my husband and family. I learned seven important lessons that keep me happy and sane! These encompass the quality of this life planning package as observed by 73-year-old, Barbara Dean Aliaga! 🙂
DO THINGS THAT INTEREST YOU! You may or may not be inclined to travel around the world. How are you going to spend your days? I intuitively understand the need to keep busy. Since high school, I’ve volunteered and worked fun-filled and challenging jobs. This retirement transition was unsettling. I feared losing ground. I was determined to renounce senior-hood, and the thought of being an elder. Immediately, I tried to build a new life. For most of the year, I treated home-life like a business. I read books, began an actual on-line business (that I really didn’t want), wrote a self-published book (and it is still a marketing challenge), visited my grandchildren (the best gift in our lives) , learned to love doing laundry and dishes (even watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo). In focusing on projects, I also tried to eliminate the need to worry over possible weakness in our financial future, worry about being without co-worker friends, temptations to regret anything in the past.
I have been rather successful! After a year of practicing thoughtful business, I no longer am glued to the identity of my last position. I have practiced and am able to enjoy doing nothing when I feel like it. I am able to listen to my voice of sanity. I am busy as far as I am in sync with myself.
EMBRACE NATURE Take time to let your heart reach out and touch nature. This is the first year ever I was able to see the first blossom burst from our Thunder Plum trees lining our street. Within the hour twenty-plus more blossoms joined the fun. By the end of the day blossoms were exploding atop the branches. This festival of spring madness in March has taken place every year since we planted these trees. Yet this is the first year I have celebrated with each blossom. By April the countless trees around our house were giving birth to baby leaves. Every tree played in concert with each other. It’s magic! Nature has the power to touch, enrich and enable my heart to soar! Retirement gave me the opportunities to embrace nature.
MAKE TIME FOR KIDS…and pets: You may tell yourself you are too busy for meeting up with kids. Just like nature, they hold tremendous opportunities of the heart. Kids have the ability to live in the present moment. So do pets. When you feel alone, or lost, or out of sorts, head for the nearest kid or pet and start interacting. You will immediately get a change in attitude. At least once a week, get a fun fix with your favorite grandchild, neighborhood kid or take time to play with your pet. If you don’t have one, visit an animal shelter or a pet store. Enjoy the interaction of unconditional love!
ACCEPT THE GOOD WITH THE BAD. As you enjoy more birthdays, you also may notice your body ages. There are days when you can enjoy what you consider a perfect day. I hear myself often say, I had such a great day, I can die happy! But there are other days when aches and pains, weather, messages from friends of sadness, news stories are present. Let’s face it, it’s hard to watch your beautiful face age, sag and become unfamiliar. You sometimes feel burdened, heavy and down. Acceptance is the key to surviving mini depression days.
The art of stopping when I feel down helps me find better ways to spend my days. When I am not fighting negative feelings, I am able to become aware. I am able to focus my attention on thoughts that make me smile. And, I always feel better with a smile on my face!
DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY. I had what I considered an important job impacting my employees. I would laugh, my job makes me important! But over the years, I grew to feel entitled to this considerable influence. I realize I made this role part of my identity. Of course, this is an ego thing. Nonetheless, it is painful to have my identity stripped. I noticed in social conversations my opinion no longer held the value I had once enjoyed. It was tough until I could figure it out. How did I handle this? I chose to laugh. …at myself! I dressed whimsically, drew differently. I diversified my choice of books. I watched various types of movies. I chose activities that were new to me each day. I had acted in one way because of a job’s role. This role was no longer my reality. To be happy I would need to find a new me.
I took time to meditate, read and look for a time when I was happier. Again, I love to smile, and I can only do this if I don’t take myself too seriously. I remember raising my son, loving housework, still employed yet not the leader and I remember being happy. I spent time remembering what this felt like and chose to copy that feeling until I could be proud of me! A new me! A fun me!
BE CREATIVE. The way I enjoy life is through creativity, ACTION. So, most days, I play the piano, paint on a canvas or digitally paint on my iPad, cook, tidy up the house, enjoy laundry, write books or blogs like this, watch videos, think about designing and sewing a dress or two, make beds when I feel like it, take walks, take drives, watch the birds, deer and bunnies, talk on the phone, take care of my body, visit my family and friends, take naps, and accept that not everything has to be extraordinary but I can see everything as extraordinary if I want to.
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE! The best lesson I have learned is something I have always known. All you need is love! A loving old lady. This is the way I have always envisioned myself. Here I am retired a year. I’m ready to let go of a pseudo on-line business, one I thought I could not live without: MyWiseSolution.com. But I can let go of this non-productive idea and move forward. I look forward to each day, fearlessly enjoying love while I close out this life’s book and prepare for the life adventure ahead. Of one thing I am sure: love will be a part of all adventures. Where there is life, there is love.
Preparing for Retirement is infinitely more than saving money. Money may or may not be there for you in the future, but the seven elements of successful retirement are trustworthy. Invest in them now and you will enjoy a most satisfying retirement in the future.