January 6, 2012

Is It Time To Kick Start Your Retirement?

Don't we experience times when we are simply going through the motions? Every day is much like the day before. It is safe and predictable. There is a comfortable routine to the day. Nothing really new or interesting happens. There are no problems we can't handle without a little effort. Inspiration is taking a break. Life moves forward. But, is that truly living a satisfying retirement? How can I find new energy for whatever might be next in retirement?

Pay attention & shake it up

One of my best sources for renewed energy and a fresh direction is to stop long enough to look at the world around me. What in my life might give me inspiration if taken in a different direction? Old photos, movies, a play or theater presentation, mementos around the house, the birds in the backyard, people at the mall, actually just about anything can inspire if my mood is right and I'm open to seeing things in a new way.

Looking for a new angle or use of the everyday, meeting a new person or having a new experience, any of these can energize an otherwise mundane day. I might read something in a magazine that changes my perspective. Checking out my favorite bloggers almost always forces me to open my mind to some different idea. Shaking up a routine or attempting to break an unproductive habit can be just the boost I need to get moving again.

Sometimes you just have to act

There will be times when you must force yourself to take action. It would be easier and more pleasant to avoid whatever it is. But, the problem isn't going away until you confront it. Whether this is a relationship issue, a health concern, a financial upset, or even where to go on vacation you may have to simply grit your teeth and do something. Problems and opportunities don't respond well to inaction.

I dislike the "ready, fire, aim" approach most of the time. But, I have done just that at times when I had a brain-lock and had to simply "do."

Look for something fresh from others

Inspiration for your life can often comes from an outside source. Interacting with other people may be an effective way to find an answer to a problem. They may not directly address what your need is. But, by simply being with them you may find a new path toward something. Being with a group of people you enjoy can't help but make you feel better.

Joining a new club, organization, or church group may be the spark you need. Volunteering in a setting where you interact with folks who need your help and are different from those you normally spend time with can often do the trick. My last four years of prison ministry has given me an entirely fresh perspective on people. I helped out at the Phoenix Rescue Mission last week by serving dinner to almost 300 less fortunate folks. It felt worthwhile and the people were friendly, appreciative, and a joy to serve.

Maybe you simply need a retread

Reusing or reworking something you have done before is really what retirement is all about. A lifetime of behavior and expectations are up for review. Just because you thought one way while working doesn't mean that line of thought is best for your life now. Was there an interest or hobby you used to love that fell by the wayside? Is it time to bring it back, maybe in a slightly different way? When you were 30 you loved to mountain bike. But, now at 60, maybe trail riding is safer and more suited to your body. You still love to bike, but you change the approach.

Kick starting your satisfying retirement really is just a case of rejecting the status quo. As our hour glass begins to run lower on sand, waiting for tomorrow to energize yourself today is probably not the wisest course. From the book, Tales of Power, consider this quote 

"The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything either as a blessing or a curse."

I prefer the warrior approach. You?

What Others Are Saying

From TED.com: Try Something New for 30 Days


  1. I enjoyed this post - we can easily get "stuck" in a rut at any point in life.

  2. Juhi,

    Getting stuck is a typical human condition. Luckily we also have the ability to change that at any time.

  3. Thanks for posting the Matt Cutts TED talk. (Who is he anyway, other than some guy who works for google?) I decided last year to try blogging for 30 days. And look where it's gotten me! Now I gotta think of something else.

  4. Great article! I've been feeling kind of bored with my different writing projects lately and have been looking around for something to spark my interest so your post was good timing.

    I feel like I'm not making enough money for time spent so I'm looking for ways to focus, do the necessary work in less time and perhaps spend time on things which bring me more joy.

    I've signed up for a weekend yoga retreat coming soon and also a friend and I are taking semi-private tai chi classes with our instructor to get more into the self-defense side of it. I think these two things will give me a better perspective on my life.

  5. Sightings,

    30 days is enough time to break a bad habit, adopt a new, good one, or start blogging!

    I don't know anything about Matt but his message is a good one and the talk is short. I am going to start integrating videos into appropriate posts just to liven things up a bit in the new year (kick start some blog changes!)

  6. Joan,

    Glad you liked it, Joan. Sometimes I wonder the same thing about the amount of time I invest in this blog. There is a small trickle of income but luckily that is not why I am blogging, at least for now.

    Good luck with the weekend retreat and new classes. Our brains need a kick-start every so often!

  7. So are you ordinary if you see everything as a blessing?

    The new year is a great time to shake things up. Let go of what is "so last year," as someone said on my blog recently. This post goes well with your recent one on leaving things behind.

  8. Galen,

    Once regrets are left behind, it is time to move forward by shaking things up, right?

    Are you ordinary if you see everything as a blessing? That's a tough one, but my first response is No. That mind set marks you as extraordinary.

  9. Bob, So true about the regrets. I'm working hard on that one!

    And I'm not going to argue with your take on the question--I am happy any day to be marked as extraordinary! I love the idea of being a warrior, especially having gone through a lot of Shambhala warrior training last year! But I balked at seeing everything as a challenge. On the other hand, I don't see anything as a curse. Hmm. I like Einstein's view--"We can choose to see everything as a miracle or nothing as a miracle." That's why I opt for seeing everything as a blessing. I'm not always successful, but most of the time that's how I see things.

  10. Galen,

    I believe you and I view life pretty much the same way: as a tremendous ride that we refuse to sit out.

  11. I spent so many years as a warrior I missed so many blessings. I guess I am enjoying this part of my life as being ordinary. I read, I interact, I love my family- just ordinary. Bynot scheduling amazing activities I simply help when I can and enjoy the experience instead of leading it.
    Maybe I will get back to being a warrior, but my health enjoys ordinary. In my ordinary way I am rebooting my "retirement". I quietly build my budget and my quilts. I am home to talk to the grandchild when he calls. I already saw most of the world I wanted to see. Now I have to frame those pictures and build the next generation's memories.

  12. Janette,

    I see the warrior component of retirement as a part of the overall experience. Ordinary joys are more able to be cherished and cultivated during retirement. But, the warrior comes out when we find ourselves either in a rut, or bored, or dissatisfied with some aspect of our day-to-day existence. Then, the warrior challenges that comfortable status in hopes of providing a new spark.

    Like you, my business life was as a warrior. Now, I enjoy being "just Bob." But, my warrior side will reappear if I think I'm becoming too dumb, fat, and lazy!

  13. I love the idea of shaking up the routine. I think that's exactly what I need. Thanks for the fresh pick me up!

  14. Hi Bob, Nice post, really enjoyed the video. I referenced this in one of my postings. Keep up the good work - I really enjoy following your blog!

  15. Sandra,

    Your last few blog posts have plowed much of the same ground. I guess the start of a new year brings out the importance of freshness in most of us.

  16. You said, "Like you, my business life was as a warrior. Now, I enjoy being "just Bob." But, my warrior side will reappear if I think I'm becoming too dumb, fat, and lazy!"

    I appreciate that qualifier, as I saw retirement as the chance to retire the ole career battle armor. But, as you say, it's not a bad idea to keep it oiled and ready for action, when/if needed.

  17. Steve,

    Too much of my life was spent in warrior mode. But, now pulling it out of the closet when needed is no problem. Having it "oiled up" is a good analogy.

  18. Scott (a few comments back),

    Thanks so much for the mention and re-use of the video. Matt does a good job in just a few minutes of summarizing the benefits of an occasional kick start.

    Your blog, Walking Through Retirement," looks interesting. I've just added it to my list of blogs I check on a regular basis.

  19. Steve in Los AngelesSun Jan 08, 10:29:00 PM MST

    Hi Bob,

    You said and then asked, "I prefer the warrior approach. You?" I definitely need to continue to being a warrior, just as I was before I retired. I do so out of necessity and to make sure that I will be happy after I turn age 65.

    I have faced several challenges over the past five years. So far (and with a major boast to my self-esteem!), I have met all of those challenges successfully.

    The following are the major challenges I faced:

    (1) In 2007, I retired with a pension that was (and still is) a small percentage of my salary. Fortunately, I have savings to supplement that pension so that I can lead a frugal (and somewhat comfortable) lifestyle as I go through the decade of my 50's. Living as I do in this manner requires a tremendous amount of discipline.

    (2) I have two annuities with lifetime income riders. With one of the annuities, I will not touch it until about two months after my 61st birthday. With the other annuity, I will not touch it until the month after my 65th birthday. Not touching these annuities until the appropriate times also requires a tremendous amount of discipline.

    (3) In October 2008, I purchased my current residence, which is a two-bedroom, two-bath condominium in a suburb of Los Angeles. The original loan amount at the time of purchase was over $120,000. With a refinance in 2009 from the original 30-year loan to my current 15-year loan, which has a much lower interest rate, my current loan balance is under $70,000. Paying off over $50,000 of my loan debt in less than three years and three months also required a tremendous amount of discipline.

    (4) Although I have a car (Toyota Corolla with a five-speed manual transmission, stick shift, and clutch) which fortunately gets great gasoline mileage, I drive my car only occasionally. I do use my car for going grocery shopping at my local Costco store. I usually get around by either taking public transportation or by walking. I also rarely go out to eat. Going out to eat is reserved only for special occasions, such as birthdays. The overwhelming majority of my meals I prepare myself in my kitchen at home. Doing all of this also requires a substantial amount of discipline.

    (5) I do have a Roth IRA. It will be many years (well past age 59 1/2) before I touch any of the assets in my Roth IRA.

    Living with all of this discipline is not in vain. I had my annual medical physical examination last week. I am in truly EXCELLENT health! I have no medical conditions whatsoever! For this, I truly am grateful!!!!!

    As you state above, "A Successful Retirement Doesn't Just Happen - You have to Work At It". You are absolutely right!!! Thank you.

  20. Steve,

    I appreciate you sharing the details of your lifestyle. It might encourage someone else to make a tough decision or two like you have.

    I am starting to investigate annuities because it is something I don't know enough about. In the spirit of full disclosure one of the sponsors of this blog is a site that helps one decide on the best annuity for his or her situation (the blue link right under my picture). I have found myself going there recently to learn more about what I expect to be part of my future investments.


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