Do a simple Google search for the phrase, satisfying retirement, and you will find 13 million references. That seems like a lot. But, wait. Try "retirement calculator" and the results soar to 933 million results! I guess I shouldn't be surprised at nearly one billion options for a two-word search since the financial aspects of retirement are top of mind to many.
Today, a true retirement calculator is likely to be found on the Internet. The user enters the numbers of various investments, savings, pensions, Social Security, and the like and predicts how much will be available upon retirement age. Or, it is possible to input your age and lifestyle information and determine how much money you will have to save to be able to retire.
Bear with me. I'd like to take the retirement calculator phrase and give it a different meaning. I'd like to input the things that tend to make up a satisfying retirement and predict what my life will be like. My dear friend, Galen Pearl, had a sentence in a post several years ago that sums this up quite well:"Balance sheets work with money, but not always with life." Instead of 401(k) or IRA numbers, investment and savings amounts, inheritances, and home equity I'd like to be able to input:
...My passion index would be a measure of my ability to truly enjoy the time and opportunity retirement gives me. Would I wake up each morning ready to fill my day (and night) with activities and events that light my fire?
...My relationship status. How healthy are my primary relationships? How about friends...do I have any? Like too many men, did I leave all my male relationships back at work? Do I have a mentor, someone I can learn from?
...My health and physical status. In addition to a BMI number, height weight, and overall heart health, am I following a path that will give me as many healthy years as my body is programmed to give me? Will my desire to eat pretty much what I want and relax cost me years of active, productive life?
...My attitudes and demeanor. Will I become like the stereotypical crabby old man...the one who gripes at everything and everyone, the one who believes the world has gone to hell in a handbasket? Will I approach change as a possible good thing?
...My spirituality and belief in a higher power. How can I calculate my place in the universe if I don't believe in something greater than me? What effect will my faith have on my future happiness? How will I handle adversity..as a personal affront or simply a way for me to test my faith and belief system?
...My risk-taking profile. Do I think change is good, or will I fight it? Will I be content to say "I wish I had..." or will I say "I'm glad I...." Will I shy away from a challenge because I might fail, or will I embrace it as a true measure of my aliveness?
No such retirement calculator is available. Converting emotions, knowledge, attitudes, spirituality, and relationship health cannot be quantified. I'm afraid we all have to do these calculations the hard way...by hand, one at a time, for the rest of our lives.
|If only this were real|