January 17, 2016

My Word for 2016: Consistency

For the last few years I have chosen a specific word for the year. That is, I pick a word that summarizes some of my goals or aspirations for the coming 12 months. in 2015 my word was "move," which turned out to be quite appropriate: I moved away from a neighborhood Betty and I had called home for nearly 30 years. My dad died in March, prompted several moves on my part to deal with my parents' estate and the obligations that come with death. While on vacation in Portland in August I suffered a mild heart attack, triggering a move in my lifestyle to one designed to keep me above ground (!) for as long as possible.

For 2016 I have settled on consistency. Defined as a steadfast adherence to certain principals, consistency can be applied to several important areas of my satisfying journey through retirement:


  • Health - To protect my heart, increase my overall energy level, maintain the appropriate weight, and remain as vibrant as possible, my approach to my health must be consistent. I can't walk a few miles a day and ride my bike this week, then come up with excuses to slack off next week. That double cheeseburger with bacon is calling my name; I must pick up a fork and have a salad, piece of chicken, or fish instead. While an occasional splurge is fine, a consistency in making health a priority is essential.
  • Finances - As I write this the U.S. financial markets have had a horrible few weeks. Triggered by a slowdown in China's economy, a non-stop fall in oil and commodity prices, unease over the world's response to various terrorism threats, and maybe the uncertainty of our political future, stocks have fallen enough to get my attention. Even so, my approach to managing our financial resources must keep the big picture in mind, consistently sticking with the plan has worked for several decades. Adjustments, yes. Panic, no.
  • Relationships - Betty and I are in our 40th year together. We moved about 25 miles to be within a few minutes of our grandkids and family. Our in-laws now live 3 minutes away after their recent move. Our youngest daughter spends quality time each week with us, at a movie, out to dinner (I know, watch what I order!), or simply spending time together at our home or her place. With my parents now both dead, and Betty's parents passing 25-30 years ago,  I realize even more than ever the importance of a close, nurturing, consistent family relationship.
  • Staying mentally active - A week ago Betty and I signed up for a new streaming service from Great Courses. In the past I have purchased several of the educational company's DVD courses on a variety of topics and always enjoyed the material. Now, hundreds of the catalog offerings are available for a set annual fee. I can stream what I choose, and as much as we want,  to the TV, tablet, or even cell phone. We have already picked half a dozen to start us off. The typical segment of most courses is 30 minutes, perfect to watch while we have lunch.
  • Spirituality - My faith is important to me. I have seen the effects on my life when I am listening, learning, and responding on a consistent basis. I have also experienced how things tend to go bad or become less pleasant when that consistency is missing. I will freely admit there has been a loss of focus in this part of my life over the last 6-7 months. Some of it has been the move to a different part of the area, thus leaving behind our church and friends. Part of it has been the upheaval that comes with a household move. And, part of it has been laziness. It is easier to skip a church service, not read the Bible on a daily basis, and slack off on prayer time. This year that must change and become a regular part of daily life.

Consistency doesn't mean being static or content with what is. This year, for me, it means an active approach to my satisfying journey. It means staying focused on what is important and what gives meaning to my life.

Do you have a word, or a guiding principal for 2016?



23 comments:

  1. Good morning. My word for 2016 is "explore". As I retire this May I think this word fits perfect on so many levels. I intend to explore new activites, new friendships and new routines. I am so engrained in routine and doing things in a specific, some would say rigid, way that I look forward to throwing that aside and exploring "going with the flow". I have begun already and find it very satisying and liberating.
    Also, because I love to hike I look forward to exploring new trails with a local hiking club and then later taking my husband on these trails on weekends when he isn't working.
    Love your blog. It is so insightful and motivating. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you for being a reader, Shelia. "Explore" is a powerful word to focus on this year, especially as you begin a new phase of life in May. Let me know how it works for you throughout 2016.

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  2. I hope to become a better listener this year. If I'm honest, I have many preconceived notions about what retirement should look like, but I need to listen with my ears and my heart so I don't miss out on what matters most. When I was a child, my grandmother had a picture of Christ knocking at a wooden door. She explained that He does not shout, nor break down the door, but we must be prepared to let Him in. I guess that's my goal--to be ready to hear what my family and friends say, and to be sensitive, spiritually, too. Bob, I wish you well as you pursue greater consistency this year.

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    1. Listening is a powerful tool and one too few of us practice "religiously" (pun intended). I have read before that listening well is one of the keys to a good marriage or any relationship. Good choice, Pam.

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  3. These sound suspiciously like New Year's resolution ... and if they are, they are good ones. I esp. envy your longstanding relationships. B and I have been together a little over a decade; but that's not really very long and there's a lot of history we don't share. And then our four kids are strewn across a thousand miles of the eastern U. S., so it takes a real effort to try to keep everyone connected.

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    1. I think of resolutions as wishes or goals. Picking a word or phrase is more of a commitment to a certain action, so I see it carrying more weight. But, that could just be semantics (another good word!).
      To you and B, a productive and joy-filled 2016, Tom.

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  4. My word for 2015 was 'savor' and it worked so well that I'm keeping it for 2016 too.
    I really like your four areas of consistency for a well rounded satisfying journey.
    Joe and I will have our 48th anniversary in May.

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    1. Congratulations to you and Joe! In two years you will have kept a commitment for half as century. That is consistency.

      Savor is a good word. There is so much in life to enjoy and experience.....savor.

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  5. My word for 2016 is "patience". Patience that in my retirement all that I wish to do and all that I can do will work itself out. Patience that I remember this is not an ending but a new beginning and all that comes with it.

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    1. Patience is like listening, the word Pam noted above. It is very powerful and very important but oh so hard to master. Patience should be my second word to focus on.

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  6. I like 'Consistency' and I like 'Savor' too. Interesting discussion. I think I would chose 'consciousness'. Consciousness in making art, in writing, in taking care of my parents, and family. I find that when I consciously choose what to do and be, life is easier and more welcoming.

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    1. Consciousness reminds me of the concept of mindfulness, or living in the moment. Since we can't change the past or control the future very well, what we really have is the here and now. I can see consciousness being a very powerful word for your new year.

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    2. Yes Mindfulness! and Intuition! Staying present makes life so much more fun! Thanks for the reply!

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  7. What a great post. I had never even thought about choosing a word for an upcoming year, but I like the idea. It sort of simplifies and focuses things. I do particularly like Florence's choice: savor. Savoring each moment, and each experience - good or bad - enriches our lives, and now that we're out of the workaday speedorama, we have the time to do just that. I think I'll choose CREATE for my 2016 word. I am hoping to launch a blog on growing older with optimism, a project that will require me to be creative and learn many new things. Here's to a wonderful 2016 for all of us!

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    1. Create...it doesn't get much more satisfying than than. Each of us have gifts that we can use to create the life we long to live. Strong choice, Kathleen.

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  8. Mine is persistence. I'm launching another project this year and will need to be persistent in my goal to put a certain amount of time to it each day while also allowing time to savor life!

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    1. Good word, Nora. Maybe persistence and consistency are related.

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  9. Bob, I have always found that consistency in health practices makes them more enjoyable. I started paying serious attention to heart health in my twenties when my mother, then in her early fifties, had first an arterial transplant and then, a few years later, a stroke. She recovered from both and lived to be 89, but I realized that I was at risk for heart disease. I changed my diet and started jogging at that point. Over the years, I have found that when I fall off the exercise wagon, it gets harder and harder to get moving again. And then one day, when I finally drag myself out for a 2- or 3-mile walk, I find myself thinking "This feels great; why have I put it off so long?"
    Wishing you a consistently happy and healthy 2016. -Jean

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    1. I can completely relate, Jean. Walking a certain distance or riding a bike perks me up, but I still look for excuses to do something else.

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    2. Oh, I have used all the excuses: too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too windy, or just too tired! This year, I finally made a deal with myself that I could walk a shorter distance under any of those conditions as long as I got out a minimum of 5 days a week. That substitution of a shorter walk for no walk worked for me. Good luck with your new emphasis on consistency. -Jean

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  10. Openness. I recently stopped working (still not sure I consider myself "retired" :-)) and want to remain open to opportunities, ideas, new adventures and all that life might send my way.
    ---Hope

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    1. Being open to all this new phase of life has to offer is a tremendous approach. Thanks for your word, Hope.

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  11. Great idea Bob! My word for 2016 is "Balance."

    With the passing of my business partner last year, I've been winding down the consulting business, and winding up the goofing off business.

    Not ready to quit completely, I now limit myself to one week a month teaching engineering classes, which I very much enjoy. Handing off most consulting projects, which balances helping my clients and helping several younger guys in the business.

    The rest of the month I plan to spend time reading more books, doing more blogging, visiting the grandkids, traveling in the RV, playing with the mutt, getting back into ham radio, doing some woodworking, and simply enjoying semi-retirement with my bride of 47 years. A bunch to balance, but looking forward to it.

    All the best to you and your bride of 40 years!



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