Before I began blogging I kept journals. There was never any systematic approach. I'd feel the urge to keep a record of a vacation, or the start of a new year would prompt me to start daily entries and I would begin writing my thoughts into a small notebook. Most lasted only three or four months before I stopped.
Every once in awhile I look back at my notes from ten, 15 or even 25 years ago. It is amazing how consistent my feelings, reactions, fears, and goals have been over that period of time. The same things that bothers or please me today bothered and pleased me in 1992, a full nine years before retirement. I stopped journaling in 2009, and one year later began Satisfying Retirement.
There are some entries from various years and events that I thought worth sharing. They give an insight into my motivations and thought process before I stopped working, and then into the first several years of retirement.
In 1998 I wrote the following to myself after a verbal blow up at a business meeting:
*I must slow down and proceed cautiously when change is involved.
*I must not rush to do something but take the time to assess the situation completely
*I must realize that I threaten the comfort zone of some older guys, so I must proceed with caution and sensitivity.
*I don't have all the answers and have a lot to learn
A few months later I noted:
I seem to be standing on the sidelines of my life at a time when there is absolutely no reason why I shouldn't be in there swinging. Possible reasons?
- fear of failure
- lack of passion or motivation
- lack of focus
- lack of knowledge
- lack of coherent plan
Many of these same concerns and analysis reappearing in the journals entries of February of 2000, January 2001, and while on a vacation in Italy in 2006.
Since we just started a new year, I wanted to see what I thought at about the same point in my past. An entry in January 2000 gave me a stark reminder of how far off the path to a satisfying retirement I was 18 years ago:
2000 - a year I'd just as soon forget. The business (my radio consulting business) finally wound down to virtually nothing, we were forced to get ready to move to a smaller home, Betty had to take a job she disliked at JC Penney's because we need the money, I ended up working as a glorified waiter for a local focus group research company, one daughter wants to move away from the family to San Diego, the other is so overworked she is not happy.
On the positive side Betty had one of her better years, health wise, the rest of us avoided any major illnesses, Mom and Dad stayed relatively healthy, I became much more involved in church, I became trained as a Stephen Minister leader, after some rough patches our marriage seemed to stabilize.
Then, a turning point. I began to notice a real difference starting in 2004. While I still had the normal rants about my failures and shortcomings in certain areas, the overall attitude was much better.
After three years of retirement I guess I had begun to figure it out. I was looking more at gaps in my life as opportunities instead of failures. The pressures of watching my business die were gone, and a realization that time could be a friend and not an enemy was apparent in my entries. This one from 2005 seems to be a good place to close:
Make and cultivate a few close friends, stay in touch with people, give of myself, read widely, exercise regularly, turn off the TV, fight the rut of routine. leave time for leisure, have more fun, take up a hobby or pastime that gets me outdoors. Eat less, laugh more, quit fussing, encourage at least one person per day. Plant a garden, put real plants in the house, Trust God for something that seems impossible, Loosen up on the intensity. Stop taking myself so seriously.
Guess what, that list works just as well today as it did over 14 years ago. Retirement and living well is a process. I am glad you and I are taking the trip together.
By the way, if journaling, goal-setting, and to-do lists interest you, check out a new Internet favorite: Bullet Journals. Be the first on your block to have one!