March 29, 2017

What One Thing Would You Change In Your Life?

I know, you have several things you'd like to change. One thing isn't nearly enough. Altering your life can be a constant process. Even so, by picking one thing you will be forced to prioritize what is really important to you at this moment. 

This is a tough question. I had to give it a lot of thought. Physical conditioning, missed experiences, strengthening my important relationships, working harder to build up this blog, still worrying too much about money, choosing easy over hard....I have plenty to pick from. 

Of course, the choice really has to be within the realm of reality. No matter how much I might enjoy it, I will never be a professional baseball player or pro golfer. I cannot break the world record for high jumps. I am not going to the Olympics (except as a spectator). That 50 foot cabin cruiser is never going to sail with me at the helm. 

Since I think we are all interested in each other's answers, I am going to keep my part of this post very short. This is a bit of an experiment: can I open up the comment section to an important question without providing a lot of background and options?

I don't want to give my answer here. Keeping things completely open to your thoughts is the goal. Yes, I will respond to each comment but I will keep my answer private for a few days. 

Never fear: I will post my answer to this question on the Satisfying Retirement Facebook Page and on my Twitter account (@SatisfyingRetir) in a few days.

So, consider all the possibilities and decide what one thing you would like to change in your life. 

Go!

54 comments:

  1. Invest more in true friendships...based on a healthy and godly exchange of life.

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    1. Excellent answer, Barak. Solid, trusted friends are priceless. I have a lot of acquaintances, but only a handful I can count as true friends.

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  2. After just making a very satisfactory move after three years of being a widow, the only thing I can come up with is to not dread being alone so much. I have friends and I keep busy and I'm very satisfied with where I am in life now, but for this sometimes overwhelming dread. As for actual change, I'd have to look back to my 14 years of retirement and say have some outside life from your spouse to keep a strong sense of identity. Also I would change that I worry too much. I quess my things I'd change are mindsets, not real tangible things.

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    1. Maintaining separate interests and a sense of identity in a relationship is sometimes not easy to do, but as you note, can become quite important.

      I read an interesting study recently about the differences between being alone and being lonely. Psychologically, they are different from each other, yet being alone for too long can lead to loneliness, which is an unhealthy condition.

      Thanks for your interesting thoughts, Mary.

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  3. Three things came immediately to mind, but then I wondered about the issue of control, i.e. to what extend could I have actually controlled my choices or managed situations so that now years later I would have a different outcome. That narrowed me down to two. Can I break the rule and state two: (1) Work harder at or pay more attention to friendships I made from high school onwards through college and even later, to stay connected to these people and share our lives. (2) Instead of taking a break after undergraduate school and returning to graduate school much much later, biting the bullet to push on for an advanced degree in one direct path after high school, through undergraduate college and onwards. The two are actually somewhat connected, because not going on to graduate school introduced a fissure in both my life and relationships--collegial relationships I might very well have today had I persevered.

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    1. Yes, you are allowed two comments!

      You will note that two of the first three comments deal with friendships, while Mary's deals with relationships, too. Your thoughts about taking an educational break and it's effect on long term friendships is interesting. I wouldn't have connected the two, but it makes sense.

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  4. My wife and I have been married for 38 years so we must be doing something right, and our daughter has been a joy. Can't complain on that end. Probably my biggest regret/do over is making a few poor decisions on the stock market front that if I had not, would have allowed us to retire even earlier than we did. For example, I bought Yahoo stock shortly after it went public, but allowed a magazine writer to convince me to get rid of it shortly afterwards for a profit. Big, big mistake. Also, I rode the stock of two high-flying companies I worked for into the ground rather than selling and paying the taxes. Those situations cost me a lot of money, money that would have given Deb and I a lot more flexibility in our lifestyle decisions. Oh well, spilled milk and all that.

    I also echo B.E.'s comment about friendships. I wish I had kept some type of relationship with those from earlier in life, particularly when I lived in Boulder during the 70s. I turned my back completely on one of the happiest times of my life, and pretty much have never had anything to do with those I knew out there. Mistake since I would have liked to know how things turned out for many.

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    1. I'd love to report I bought IBM or Microsoft for $1 a share and held them, but, no. Interestingly, my financial approach has been so conservative that early on I rarely bought individual shares of companies, so I never had the type of major ups and downs that most folks did. In the last few years, the extra money from my parent's estate and a new advisor have convinced me to be involved in the equity side of things to a small degree. So far, so good.

      Add another check in the friendship and relationship column.

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  5. I wish I had made fewer accommodations to my ex-husband's career path, which deprived me of years that could have been devoted to my own career.

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    1. I must think that is a common concern. In a marriage, too often one partner sacrifices more of self for the good of the couple. When things don't work out as expected, there is a sense of regret over lost opportunities.

      Thanks for the honest comment.

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  6. I have never said this out loud. This is me: Ready, Fire, Aim. Think then act. I had a wonderful career. A wonderful education. I have a wonderful wife, kids, grandchildren. Yet, it would certainly caused far less angst had I thought first. I said it. Now I can go back into my hole.

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    1. Thanks for the smile this morning, Jack. Yes, we humans can be a rather reactionary bunch.

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  7. I would have finished my bachelors degree the first time I tried. I'm not complaining, as I'm happy with how my life turned out, but it would have been a lot easier to finish college without three small children and a part time job to fund tuition. That said, I guess I didn't appreciate my opportunities the first time around.
    --Hope

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    1. I have always contended my parents wasted a chunk of the money they spent to send me to Syracuse University. I had already made my career choice so I was totally focused on that. I attended very few lectures or activities that make college life so special. I think I went to the library a few times but didn't really take advantage of the intellectual or social opportunities. I'd love a do-over.

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  8. As I consider the journey, I really can't think of much I would change. I moved so much as a child, 14 schools in 12 years, and married a guy whose career involved moving almost annually, so I came to accept and adapt to change. All of that and the ability to create my own work situations as we moved feels like a PhD, in a way. No regrets here.
    b

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    1. Good for you, Barbara. Your story contains a period of struggles and abuse. You emerged stronger for it all. No regrets. That speaks of someone who knows and loves herself.

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  9. Wished I had been able to recognize my own strengths and weaknesses earlier in my life. I feel like everything worked out OK for me but I sure could have avoided a lot of unnecessary losses, sorrow and drama.

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    1. Self-confidence makes a world of difference, doesn't' it.

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  10. I wish I could tell my younger self to lighten up, don't worry so much about things that probably won't happen anyway, and take more chances. Quit that job that you hate so much and go out on faith.
    Oh, and ask my beautiful wife to marry me sooner!
    Did I go over my limit on wishes?
    Jeff

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    1. How much worry is wasted time and effort...probably most of it.

      I like the "marry my beautiful wife sooner" idea. Make sure she reads that...extra brownie points for Jeff.

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  11. My mom was extremely controlling and we could have no friends outside of church. I was a very compliant/fearful/peace maker personality and allowed her to control my decisions even after I was married and had kids!
    How I think my life would have been different if I would have been able to stand up and say "no, mom, we're not going to do it your way". Both my brother and sister were the opposite of me and were their own people.

    Now I'm the one in the family that is helping to take care of her in her 90s and trying to do my best. BOTH my parents are in a nursing home at this point.

    I'd for sure change how I interacted with my mom!

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    1. Thanks for expressing a wish of a lot of folks when their parents won't give them space to breathe or grow up. I assume your relationship with your kids was very different!

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  12. This may sound pathetic but I really can't pick something. Everything I THINK I would change has brought me something positive that I wouldn't want to miss out on. I do wish I were more courageous to do some of the things I've not yet accomplished like moving to Italy for 3 months or writing a book. These are out of my realm of reality even though they may not be unrealistic.
    Wendy

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    1. No, that isn't pathetic, that is being content and happy in your own skin. Since this is really an intellectual exercise, you are "allowed" to want things to unfold the way they did.

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  13. At my age I've thought about this questions many, many times and I always come back to the same conclusion. I wish that I had taken my education opportunities more seriously. I attended a wonderful high school and was president of my Junior and Senior Class, but was more concerned about the social aspects of school than I was about serious learning. That practice continued into college. I obtained a degree and have led a blessed life, but if I had a do over, I would have taken the time to LEARN rather than just study well enough to pass a test. Perhaps I would have had more opportunities available to me in this thing we call life. Great question...thanks for asking.

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    1. Your reaction matches one of my comments above. My college education was wasted on me at that stage of my life. I went because people of my generation went to college right after high school. I might have made more of the opportunity if I had taken a gap year or two.

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  14. You could take this question two ways--what do I wish I could change from the past, or what do I wish I could change right now. As for the past, that is just too big a question for me. As for now, I will reveal how shallow I am. I would lift my face back up onto my cheekbones! Ha!

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    1. Funny....but, don't. You have one of those eternally youthful happy faces that needs no improvement!

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  15. In the past? Told my parents that I was severely bullied in early elementary school. OTOH - having that background made me a pretty amazing teacher for kids who didn't have a clear path.
    Now? I HAVE to lose this weight. I am such a wimp.

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    1. Using a negative early in life to produce a very positive result in your later years: that is success. Bullying is a serious problem that needs more focus.

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  16. For the most part, I am glad for everything I have experienced, even the really awful stuff, because I have learned from it. About the only thing I wish I had done differently would be to not let myself be influenced as much as I was for a long time by the many expectations for women from society, advertising, my community and family. I grew up thinking I needed to look a certain way, act a certain way, behave a certain way, and only pursue certain goals. What a waste of time it was trying to achieve all of that! I am very happy with who I am, what I have done, and what my future holds!

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    1. Thank you for expressing an important problem in our society. I guess things for women are somewhat better today, but articles I see in the news cause me to wonder. Frankly, I don't understand the disrespect and attempt to control females that runs rampant in some segments of our culture.

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  17. I wish I had found a job I could have been passionate about and I wish I had the courage to leave an abusive job situation before it affected my health.
    Joan

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    1. That is a common regret. We usually choose security when we have certain responsibilities, and that is completely understandable. An abusive situation, however, is different. I am sorry that you had to endure that.

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  18. As for the past, I wish I had not held on to things that were past their pull dates... Relationships, friends, jobs. There comes a time when it's better to let go. As for the present, I really need to lose weight. It's odd, given that it's within my control, for it to be such an obstacle, but there you go.

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    1. I wrote a post awhile back about our own "due by" dates and whether we were able to move on. As you note, the answer is often, no. We stick with the familiar too long.

      Thanks, Jane.

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  19. Like Susan in Dallas, grammi and Laura, there's little I would have changed for it has all brought me to this point in life, a life I'm relatively content with. I try not to "wish" for things anymore; now, I think about what's important to me and then make a plan and execute it, one step at a time. In the throes of young parenthood, I used to wish for the toddler to grow up; it's not any easier being the parent of an adult. Every stage has its rewards and challenges. I used to wish for more time, juggling home, work, relationships, education, etc. Now, I have time to do so it doesn't do me. To everything there is a season.

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    1. I am pleased at the comments that show acceptance with what has happened to this point, and a sense of looking forward without too many regrets. You are so right: to everything there is a season.

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  20. I believe that there is no point in looking back and regretting things that happened or that I did or did not do. I have had a very good life, even though there were difficult times, and all of it has brought me to where I am today. As for the present, there are many daily habits, actions, and mindsets that I continue to strive to change incrementally, and new things to experience. Looking to the future, I have so many goals still ahead of me. The two big changes are that I will retire in June, and that we plan to move back to British Columbia in the next year to be closer to family and friends.

    Jude

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    1. I think the benefit from looking backward is to bring future choices more in line with what makes us satisfied. We certainly can't change what has brought us here but we should have learned about ourselves and how we fit into the world. The Bible makes it quite clear that perseverance and patience are important personality traits. They come from our journey.

      Thanks, Jude. BC is a beautiful part of Canada.

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  21. I took this question differently.I thought you mean what would you change in your life NOW. It seems most responses are looking BACKWARDS at something they already did that they wish they could change. I tend to be FORWARD thinking.If I make a mistake I try hard to fix it sooner rather than late rand move intoo the future. I have whined a bit about choices I've made that didn't work out but actually, I do believe we did the best at the time and it all turned out.. like Barb, I don't really have regrets.I learned so much about ourselves and about what we want to do in the last third of our lives by just going through stuff! But what I'd like to change NOW: I'd love for Ken and I to be able to fully commit to a vegan lifestyle, to eat really really healthy without backsliding like we do! I believe that would be such a good change.. so, we do it the best we can, maybe 80%, progress, not perfection. With some chocolate chip cookies and lemon pie along the way.

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    1. Actually, you are correct. When I wrote it I was thinking more about present day changes. But, the reason I didn't include my thoughts was to allow readers to interpret the question in any way that was meaningful to them. And, yes, the majority of answers deal with something in the past that has affected a life.

      I will post a a thought or two with my answers to the question on my Facebook page and Twitter tomorrow.

      Wait, lemon pie isn't vegan?

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    2. We are pitifully failing at a vegan diet.We eat vegan a lot, just cause it's what we like to eat, and it is good for us, about 75-80% of the time.The other 20% -25% we eat-- oh dear, honesty: BACON,LEMON PIE and LAMB CHOPS!!!!! LOL!!!!

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  22. The only thing I would change about my life is I wish I had stayed in the Army and retired as planned. That would have affected my current work life because I'd be able to leave my job this year. Having said that, I am so glad I served my country.

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  23. I wish I had learned to speak up for myself earlier in my life. I think the Woman's Movement is something that I was aware of for others, but did not apply to myself. If I had been able to "speak my mind" to many folks in my life who didn't respect my boundaries I could have saved myself a lot of heartache that just didn't make sense to me for years. I just couldn't make myself realize that not everyone has a kind heart and that they could see me coming across the room and as much as I sacrificed for them, it was never enough. That problem was family, spouses and friends and it took me until my late 50s to see the reality of each situation. I knew I was frustrated in each situation, but I certainly did not know how to rise above and handle it so I struggled with trying to make sense of nonsense for most of my life. It makes me sad when I think of how I struggled, but I am happy to say that I would never take that kind "crap" from those people today. I'd be kind, but I would remove myself from their dictatorships.

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    1. "Making sense of nonsense" is an excellent way of expressing the frustrating times you experienced. If there is any good news in your story it is that you have taken the steps to stop that self-weakening behavior and risen above it.

      It is hard for many of us to say, "No," out of fear of hurting someone's feelings or drawing attention to ourselves. Learning to put distance between us and people or things that hurt us is an important skill.

      Thanks for your story.

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  24. I've thought about this question now and then. But I always remind myself this about the road not taken: We think everything would have worked out perfectly, but it rarely does, so other choices might have brought us a better career, a better marriage, a happier life ... or not. We'll never know.

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    1. How true. I am convinced if I had paid more attention to my physical condition I be benefiting from that effort today. The good news, with exercise it is never too late. So, I walk. lift some weights, and am happy on those days I don't break something.

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  25. The one thing I regret the most is marrying the narcissist I did 50 years ago. I did divorce him after 14 years.

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  26. I had to think about this for a week or so. I kept coming back to "my weight" as the one thing I'd change right now! I found I was not "acting" in a way that would support that. I am now. Thanks for asking! I'm taking action so that my clothes will soon fit again ;)

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    1. I have been carrying more weight than I wanted for quite awhile. Finally, last week after all the attempts on my own I signed up for Nutrisystem. I have dropped 4 pounds in the first week, so I am encouraged.

      I am happy this post helped you move forward.

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