October 14, 2014

A Lifestyle You Choose - Really?

Earlier this summer I modified the blog's title by changing the line that follows Satisfying Retirement to A Lifestyle You Choose. I thought that qualifier was a good fit for the overall message of this blog.

Frankly, I thought I'd get a grumble of disagreement from a few readers. A Lifestyle You Choose could be interpreted to mean if you have problems and disappointments it is likely your fault. A  satisfying retirement is there if you work hard enough. No feedback means no one noticed the change (not good) or everyone agrees with the statement (good, but unlikely).

Now that I have been back from my summer sabbatical for several weeks, I thought maybe I'd take the opportunity to explain what I mean and why I think it fits the blog's title.

A Lifestyle You Choose most assuredly does not mean you make your own luck. It does not mean to make a decision and everything will fall into place. Any financial, relational, health, or time management concerns will vanish once you choose the right lifestyle.

What it does mean is simply this: you choose to make whatever situation you find yourself either satisfying or unsatisfying. Examples? Sure:

* Your financial situation isn't what you envisioned it to be when you imagined your retirement years. You thought you would have more in the bank, more productive investments, a house that would be a solid source of equity for the future.

* A few minor health issues have become major potholes in the road of your life. For someone who rarely needed a doctor, hadn't seen the inside of a hospital, and managed to avoid even the common cold, you now find yourself dealing with limitations, obstacles, and pains. You have more doctors than friends and you are all too familiar with our health care system.

* Your spouse or significant other has made it clear he or she now expects more from you than has been "good enough" to now: more involvement, more support, more understanding.  

* Your plan to live in Europe or the South Pacific for a few years never happened. Now, you feel lucky to get out of town for a long weekend every now and then.


I could continue, but you get the idea. Life has not treated you with all the respect you feel you deserve. Your retirement years are not what you had planned. Your satisfying retirement is a disappointment. Your are unsatisfied.

Certainly, living that way is an option. We are free to form an impression of our life and live in a way that makes it a reality.

But, why? Just as you can choose to be unsatisfied with your lot in life, you can choose to live very differently. You can look at the vast majority of the people in the rest of the world and realize you are blessed beyond belief.

No matter what health issues are making life unpleasant or even painful and difficult, I'm pretty sure there are others who would trade places with you in a flash. 

No matter how much you have had to scale back your plans because of your finances, you are in the top 5% of the world's population in terms of your monetary situation. You may have lost your home and live in a small apartment. But, 1.8 billion people around the world live in substandard housing...that means no running water, no sanitary facilities, multiple people crowded into a small space, no hot water, no electricity. Your apartment would look like a palace to them.

I am not talking about a dose of positive thinking. This is not a post about wearing rose colored glasses. It is about how we will respond to what live throws at us.

We can choose to feel defeated or even beaten down. We can live as if life has treated us unfairly. We can feel cheated by fate. We can live a lifestyle during our retirement that is unhappy and unsatisfied.

Or, we can choose to look honestly at what life has given and taken away from us and decide there is nothing to be gained by shaking our fist at the heavens. We can decide to make the most of what we have, not what we don't. We can adjust our expectations to better match reality.

We can choose an approach to life that makes our retirement years satisfying. The past can't be changed, the future can't be predicted. The only thing we can control with even the slightest bit of certainty is the here and now. 

Why choose to experience these moments that will never come again with anything less than an attitude that expresses gratitude and satisfaction? 

This take on life is why I modified the blog title. I firmly believe that my satisfying retirement is a lifestyle that I have chosen to embrace and accept, however different it is from what I had planned and whatever lies ahead.



29 comments:

  1. Although I didn't notice the tagline change, Bob, I do read all of your posts in an RSS reader.

    You do have readers, but we just don't visit the website very often!

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    1. Better to not notice and be a reader! Thanks, Doug.

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  2. You said it Bob.
    Satisfaction depends on your philosophy, and what you need for satisfaction. There are those who can be satisfied with little, and those who do not know satisfaction.

    Epictetus says "some things are up to us, and some things are not." What is up to us? Our beliefs, values, judgements, opinions, little else. We have influence over some additional things, but not control. But what do I know.

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    1. Giving up the belief that we are in control of everything is one of the toughest tests for most of us. But, I think it is the mark of a mature person who realizes, as you note, that we actually can control very little outside our own attitude and lifestyle choices.

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  3. It was almost a year ago we took the plunge and bought our mountain house , as we had the business up for sale, and sale or not, we were done with work on January 30 following that October.

    I like the new tag line.One of the reasons I look forward to your blog posts is your own flexible approach to retirement, and the lack of candy-coating.AND of course, you do carry an optimistic tone which is also how I view life.I worry, like everyone, but I am nto a "doom and gloomer.

    You're so right,Bob..I can't say how much rearranging, refocusing, reconfiguring of EVERYTHING we have done this year. We had a few" set in stone " ideas for our first year, and even those got changed!!!!

    Especially in the initial stages, retirement requires so much faith,courage, a decent handle on your finances (beforehand, hopeefully! ) and the ability to see how it goes and make changes accordingly.

    Actually,part of the ADVENTURE of retirement is seeing how differently we feel about so many aspects of living now!! Not having to answer to a boss or an alarm clock, living in the palce we dreamed of for years, we're still evolving.

    We are not traveling as much as we thought we would want to.We have given up going out to eat very much, cooking at home is fun and it tastes so much better-- since we are not "exhausted after work" we have ENERGY to cook every night now!

    Friendships have taken on new and deeper meaning! I thought I would want to work a little,maybe in real estate, but now I am finding I don't want to work at all in the forseeable future. (I do see some Astrology clients, that's an old job I've had for years and more of a hobby..)


    Sorry for such a long post --I'm just agreeing with your take on things, in light of our first year in the land of retirement..and yes YOU CHOOSE your reactions to all of it.. I'd say just stay open to being surprised ! And realize you have what it takes to navigate a few thunderstorms....


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    1. I especially like your reference to faith...faith in your plans and faith in yourself. Out of control self doubt probably sinks more satisfying retirements than almost any other factor. We can adjust to a lot, but self doubt knocks the foundation out from under us.

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  4. I had no idea I would hurt my back within the first six months of retirement. The first of my aches and pains. Still, the only thing it keeps me from is hikes more than a few miles. I can live with that.

    I am useful in my community and that works for me. And we still travel, but often on the cheap.

    Interesting what comes along! If anyone had told me I'd buy a park model and live in Tucson during the winter, I would have laughed. Now it's just right.

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    1. You and Art will be making your way south in just a few months!

      Adjusting to something, like your back, is a necessary life skill. As you have certainly proven, it is what you after that adjustment that counts.

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  5. Nice post Bob but for some reason, even though I am deaf, I hear Kenny Rogers in the background as I am reading this post. "Know when to hold them, know when to fold them..." :)

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    1. That reminds me of one of the current crop of Geico commercials where Kenny is irritating his poker buddies by singing that song at every game. It is good advice at poker, and life. Thanks, RJ.

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  6. I still like the comparison of the half empty glass idea....except if I ever see my glass less than half full, I remind myself I need to pour the contents into a smaller glass.
    No, my retirement is not exactly as I imagined. Some things are so much better than I could envision....some things are tedious....example: helping aging parents and trying to get them to do what is best for themselves and their stubbornness...lol! However, I feel so blessed to be alive and enjoying retirement at all. Seems the obituaries always contains many names that are younger than me.
    Your blog is something I look forward to each time you write. It is diverse and always leaves me either motivated or thinking about something from a new perspective.
    A Lifestyle we choose.....aren't we truly fortunate and blessed to be here another day and actually have a choice!

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    1. Your comment hits several chords for me: dealing with my mentally fading but still physically OK 90 year old dad, seeing those around me struggle and die. But, I must say I love the idea of going to a smaller glass when the current one is no longer half full. That is such a great image don't be surprised to see it as the basis of a post one of these days.

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  7. Oh, I love this post! And yes, I did notice the change in the name of your blog; I like it!

    In the psychological world, they might call this "cognitive restructuring", which is a fancy way of saying that you CAN change how you feel/react to life circumstances. Not always easy, but as you point out, what is the alternative? Who wants to live a life feeling grumpy and dissatisfied all the time?

    Embracing what we have, making changes for the better when we can, and making an attitude adjustment whenever needed will certainly contribute to a more satisfied and happy life. I'd be remiss if I did not acknowledge that some folks may need help with some of this. Someone in a deep dark clinical depression will need help finding there way out.

    Thanks for another great post. I always look forward to reading your posts. So encouraging and inspiring!

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    1. You make an important point, Carole, about the possibility of clinical depression. We all feel blue now and again. But, when that becomes on-going severe depression then all the "half glass full" speeches in the world will not fix what is wrong.

      A study last year noted that the simple fact of retiring increases the odds of someone becoming seriously depressed by 40%. It is likely that person will not be able to see the depth of the problem; it is up to friends and loved ones to find that person professional help.

      And, on that note, I am glad you like my positive spin on things!

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  8. I saw the title change & loved it! RJ's comment about Kenny Rogers & "you've got to know when to hold 'em......" is great & now will be running through my head all day, I'm sure and I also enjoyed the idea of a smaller glass when the original one is less than half full.

    After two and a half years of retirement, I can honestly say I've loved it, nearly every minute and much of it has been very different than I imagined. Not as much weight lost, nor as much organized volunteer work or travel, but most days full of enjoyment and purpose and life is good.

    I've also noticed how many folks have passed away; how blessed I am to have the health, family and friends that I have.

    I "work at not worrying" (and didn't comment on your post about the credit card debacle just because I try not to get sucked into stuff I cannot control, but it does really upset me) and don't consider myself someone with rose colored glasses. I do know that my attitude makes all the difference for me; that's one thing I can control. I can also control my actions (and other thoughts) and accept comfortably that I may not be able to change much else.

    I'm so glad you decided to continue blogging; reading your posts is a great part of my morning.

    pam

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    1. By the way, Kmart is the latest to report a massive data hack. And, the beat goes on.

      Until I retired and had about three years under by belt, I was a worrier. I guess that is natural when you have a family to support and all the pressures that come with running a business and keeping all the balls in the air

      .But, even after retirement I continued to worry until I finally I didn't. I don't think there was one trigger or factor that turned my worry switch to off. But, as you well know, once worry isn't part of your daily pattern life becomes so much sweeter.

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  9. Hi Bob, I just started following your blog and a few others on retirement. I really believe the word "choose" is one of the most powerful words out there. I certainly "choose" what I do. My site, www.whenim6.blogspot.com is about me being 65 Years Young and Just Getting Started!

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    1. No disagreement from me about the power of the word "choose." Life is really a series of choices that either move us toward our goals or off into the wilderness.

      Best of luck with the blog, Susan.

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  10. I confess, I hadn't noticed the new tag line. But, you know I read your posts.
    I think it's good to have a plan, but it's imperative we allow flexibility. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned, at least in my world, but as long as you can adapt you'll be fine. Our mindset is definitely a choice and needs to be flexible, I believe. Otherwise you will certainly lose your mind!
    b

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    1. In thinking about it, I am not sure I have much of a detailed plan anymore. Yes, I plan for next year's RV trips and vacations, I make a budget, I have have a rough plan for a new book and this blog. But, compared to where I was before, I am probably in the plan less category. As long as I don't slip into the clue less category I believe I will be OK.

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  11. Noticed the change and liked it... just did not comment on it. Decided recently that I overthink so many things and often try too hard (yes, I think that is possible). Most of the decisions that I knock myself out over just aren't all that important. And no matter what I read, I don't have to have really big goals. Little ones are Ok and even they are flexible. But if a big one comes out of nowhere I am ready. I love the "plan less category" but I appreciate the caution not to slip into the "clueless category"! Give us a hint on your book plan.

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    1. I may have to build a post around the plan-less and clue-less idea.

      The book will be another in the series on retirement, though I am not quite sure about the structure yet. I am in no rush since the one published in May, 2013 is still selling 4-6 a week.

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  12. I totally agree, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Or as Fred T (or Epictetus), who said it better, wrote, "Some things are up to us, and some things are not."

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    1. ...and wisdom is knowing the difference (to paraphrase another wise person).

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  13. I'd always wanted to be a travel agent, but couldn't afford the pay. After I retired, I worked part time planning auto trips for clients, most of whom were retired. I was uncertain what "retired" meant...self involved? crochety? always talking about the good old days?

    I quickly realized that, regardless of age, people were fun, if they were fun when younger, or impossible to please, if that had been their prior worldview. Plans change, people don't and we are so fortunate to retire. .

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    1. I think people do change based on life circumstances, but there are too many older folks who are upset at the world and what it has done to them. That is a no-win life path to follow.

      Planning auto trips for clients...interesting! That sounds like a needed service.

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  14. Bob, I really enjoyed this post. Just found your blog. You are covering a lot of the same ideas that I've been struggling to articulate in my blog. I like the way you acknowledged that the plans you had didn't work out. Same here. But we keep trying. I invite you to check out my blog: www.thingscouldbeworse.org. Rin Porter

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Rin. I will certainly click over to your blog.

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