Posts that detail what folks do with their time each day are among the most popular on this blog. Even for those of us who have been retired for quite some time, finding out what others do is interesting and often inspirational.
This time around, I want to take a different approach: here is a short list of six things I do not do as part of my satisfying retirement journey.
1) Check my financial investments and the stock market daily. I can't think of a quicker way to drive myself crazy than watching the constant gyrations of the financial markets. There are folks who do that for a living. I use one of them to watch my money and let her try to make sense of a rather confusing system to protect me and my family's long term future. To my untrained eye, everything seems to run on emotion, rumor, or events in a place so distant I am lucky to find it on a map. What looks like good news to me sends the Dow Jones into a tailspin.
Once a month I add the various totals from my accounts to a spreadsheet. Even then, if there has been a slight dip I don't panic and place a call to the advisor. Over three or fourth months of downward dips, then things would begin to get my attention and prompt a few questions. But, even during the nasty times of 2008-2010 I didn't sell much or worry. I trusted the long term strength of the economy and her skills. It has paid off.
2) Regret something I did years ago. What would be the point? I can't change it, I can't relive it and do something differently. To regret it in a way that it remains bouncing around in my mind on a regular basis doesn't happen. I try to fix whatever happened as I move forward and learn from that bad choice to avoid making it again.
3) Forget that the clock is ticking. I turned 67 two months ago. I am not a spring chicken. According to the life expectancy for the year I was born, 69 years on earth was what I should expect. Now that I have passed 65, that same chart gives me another 17 years. Based on family history and my overall health I plan on beating that.
Even so, nearly 80% of my life is in the rear view mirror. It is my absolute intention to make that last 20% full of happiness, productivity, and doing things beneficial to others. We hear that life goes by so quickly. Yes, it does. I hear that clock ticking but I am not allowing it to terrify me or hold me back.
4) Take my important relationships for granted. My wife, Betty, and I just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. That is just as hard to grasp as having 80% of my life behind me. She has been part of my life, a part of me for so long, my years before her almost don't seem real. We complete each other in ways that are too numerous to list. We help each other grow and change in positive ways, ways that would be impossible without each other.
My grown daughters have developed into tremendous adults. Each is comfortable in her own skin. Each has built a life that is satisfying for them. Having them close by is a blessing that shows itself every day. Adding grandkids to the mix is almost too much good news.
5) Believe I can have a chili dog and onion rings for lunch and not pay a price. See point #3 above! What I eat, how I use my body, and the attention I pay to what it is telling me are mostly within my control. Shame on me if I trade my future for instant gratification today. My cardiac episode of last year was a powerful reminder.
6) Allow my mind to petrify. To stop learning new things, to stop listening to new music, to stop having conversations with people I disagree with, to stop engaging in the world, is to stop living. Frankly, it is easier at our age to let our thinking sort of calcify, to harden around what we know, to stick with what makes us happy and comfortable. It is hard work to push back against a mind that wants to just rest. It is also the way to slowly fade away.
There are six things I try not to do as part of my satisfying retirement, if I can help it. Just so you know, I fail to live up to one or more of these points more often than I'd like to admit, even in a blog.