September 15, 2023

If Only It Were This Simple

 



I am a sucker for lists. To-do lists, productivity lists, how to be happy lists, the best movies in a foreign language list...doesn't matter. I like lists. 

If enjoyable aging could be reduced to a simple nine-point list, wouldn't life be easier! This may be a fool's errand, but here's my attempt: 

1. It’s time to use some of the money you saved up. Use and enjoy it. Don’t just keep it for those who may have no notion of the sacrifices you made to get it. Remember there is nothing more dangerous than a long-lost releative with big ideas for your hard earned capital. Warning: This is also a bad time for a major investment, even if it seems wonderful or foolproof. If you are wrong, there is too little time to rebuild your cracked nest egg. This is a time for you to enjoy some peace and quiet.

2. Keep a healthy life without hurting youself. You are probably not training for a marathon. Moderate exercise, like walking every day or some weight-lifting will suffice. Eat well and get your sleep. It’s easy to become sick, and it gets harder to remain healthy. That is why you need to keep yourself in good shape and be aware of your medical and physical needs. Keep in touch with your doctor, do tests even when you’re feeling well. Stay informed.

3. Always buy the best, most beautiful items for your significant other that you can afford. The key goal is to enjoy your money with your partner. One day one of you will miss the other, and the money will not provide any comfort then. Enjoy that special gift together.

4. Don't stress over the little things. You’ve already overcome so much in your life. You have good memories and bad ones, but the important thing is the present. Don’t let the past drag you down and don’t let the future frighten you. Feel good in the now. Small issues will soon be forgotten.


5. Stay up-to-date. Even though it may feel good for the moment, a head-in-the-sand approach to the state of the world really only works for an ostrich. No matter where something important happens, the odds are pretty good it may affect you at some point.  

Higher prices, shortages, pandemics, a major labor strike....our world is interconnected more than ever. It is best to not be caught completely unaware. 

6. Respect the younger generation and respect their opinions.
 They may not have the same ideals as you, but they are the future and will take the world in their direction. Offer advice, not criticism. Share your experiences but not necessarily your rules. 

7. Even if you don’t feel like it, try to accept invitations. Baptisms, graduations, birthdays, funerals, weddings, conferences. Try to go. Get out of the house, meet people you haven’t seen in a while, experience something new (or something old). Share with others who may be hurting or need a smile and a hug.

However, don’t get upset if you’re not invited. Some events are limited by resources, and not everyone can be hosted. The important thing is to leave the house from time to time. Go to museums, go walk through a field. Get out there.

8. Be a considerate conversationalist. Talk less and listen more. Some people go on and on about the past, not caring if their listeners are really interested. That’s a great way of reducing their desire to speak with you. Listen first and answer questions, but don’t go off into long stories unless asked to. 

Speak in courteous tones and try not to complain or criticize too much unless you really need to. Try to accept situations as they are. Everyone is going through the same things, and people have a low tolerance for hearing complaints. Always find some good things to say as well.

9. Take no notice of what others say about you and even less notice of what they might be thinking. They’ll do it anyway, and you should have pride in yourself and what you’ve achieved. Let them talk, and don’t worry. They have no idea about your history, your memories, and the life you’ve lived so far. 

There’s still much to be written, so get busy  "writing" your own story and don’t waste time thinking about what others might think. Now is the time to be at rest, at peace, and as happy as you can be!


Our trip to France was a fresh reminder that the clock is ticking. Attitude and phyical abilities were tested. 

Of course,  nine items can't cover everything that is key to aging well, but it is a start.

What would you add?



26 comments:

  1. Interesting to see "It’s time to use some of the money you saved up" at the top of your list (and kind of point 3 too). That's at least a small change from years ago when I first started following your blog. It seems that most retirees worry early on about if they'll have enough money to see them through. Later on when they see that money isn't really an issue, and they notice that their life clock is ticking down, they ease up a bit. My advice is to not leave it too late. As hard as it can be sometimes (and you'd think it'd be easier) use the money you saved for retirement in your actual retirement while you can really enjoy it.

    I suppose one thing I could add is to let your kids live their own lives. My wife can still sometimes worry herself sick about some crisis or other that our younger daughter seems to encounter on a regular basis, especially now that this daughter is a single mother. While we would hope that in some ways our children would be more like us, for better or worse, they are going to have to live their own life and learn from their own mistakes. No matter how much we wish we could, we can't rescue them from themselves.

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    1. You can take a large share of the credit (or blame!) for my shift in how I think about my financial status. Our approach to money has always been about spending less than we make and taking very calculated risks.

      The result has been the accumulation of a solid nest egg, that can stand a little scrambling.

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  2. Great post, Bob. It's almost as if you were speaking directly to me. That is what makes you a great blogger. About the only other thing I could add to make it 10, is to be just yourself. Don't let others tell you who you should be. Of course, that applies throughout life, but is especially important in our senior years.

    I'll bet you were working on this list all the time you were on vacation, at least in the back of your mind. I was in France on Wednesday. Well, at least the "House Hunters International" version. ๐Ÿ˜

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    1. Thanks, RJ.

      Your last several posts ( that I read in France) dealt with various aspects of being yourself. I couldn't agree more. We need to be comfortable with who and what we are at this stage of life. We have had unique experiences and challenges, meaning we are the only one to judge success or need for adjustments. Others will think what they will; their analysis is not the one that really counts.

      This doesn't mean not being open to change that helps us or others. It does mean mean not molding ourselves into a shape others determine.

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  3. Having missed out on retirement with my husband, who died 8 months before his retirement date this year, this is a bittersweet list. I would like to subtly send to my mother-in-law, not that it'd change her, but might be a conversation starter- as opposed to hearing about people I do not or have never known, or details of vacations from 20+ years ago.

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    1. I am so sorry for your loss. Obviously such an occurence cannot happen at a good time; right before retirement together must be extra painful.

      If this list helps open some conversations with your MIL, I will consider this post a success.

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    2. Yes, people who go on and on about people you have never met and will never meet. I finally ended a very long term friendship because that was all she had to talk about.

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  4. Bob, I have several comments. Since you're such a fan of lists . . .
    1. I was nodding my head as I was reading your post. You make excellent points.
    2. As a corollary to point #3, embrace opportunities for experiences that will enrich your life and make wonderful memories. Since I know you're a fan of this theory, but specifically mentioned gifts here, I'm wondering if you made a special purchase for Betty on this trip.
    3. Alan and I have built a long and happy (if, at times, somewhat unconventional) life together using point #9 as a foundation. I highly recommend it! In fact, I think it's safe to say that it has worked well for us, since we're celebrating wedding anniversary #44 today.
    4. Your comment about writing your own story strikes a chord with me. Our daughter has faced (and overcome) several professional challenges due to working in the male-dominated field of barbering. My advice to her has always been, "Don't let anyone else write your story."
    5. A belated welcome home to you and Betty!

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    1. Let me start with a hearty congratulations on your anniversary. Betty and I will raise a toast in your honor when we see you in a few weeks.

      The trip was the special present for her. As she traced her father's footsteps she was in tears of joy and memories many times. She even got to take a few pictures at the same spot her father did when he went back to Normandy in 1989.

      We both loved the river cruise, but the parts focused on her dad and her heritage in Normandy were my gift to her. This was a dream she never expected to realize.

      We look forward to seeing you at The Horny Toad in 2 weeks!

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    2. Yes, yes! Looking forward to it! Perhaps we should also raise a toast to realized dreams and those who make them come true.

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  5. My older sister (soon to be 74), declared that she would spend down 1/2 her savings by age 75 traveling the world and ticking off her list. She retired at 64.5y. She tragically widowed at 57yo. She is currently on a National Parks 19d with a bestie. I doubt they will hit all of them but they certainly are enjoying the Western half of the USA.

    Why by 75? Although family history says we women will be old old, she didn't want to risk injury or unexpected health challenges that would prevent travel. "Do it while you can and live on a tight budget later if you have to". I will be asking her on her 75th if she succeeded in 50% depletion ;-)

    I'm a lister as well. And being amongst the weirdos, I will add something I did just so I can cross it off๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

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    1. More power to your sister! A trip to visit as many National Parks as possible is a worthy goal. We managed to tick off quite a few during our RV years...they are real treasures.

      Writing something down just to cross it off when completed seems like perfectly normal behavior to me.

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  6. Make sure you get in a good laugh (or at least smile) as often as you can. Old sitcoms, funny books, cat videos - whatever works. It will change your perspective!

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    1. Laughter should get more credit for helping us stay joyful and in the moment. You can't crack a smile in the past or future..only right now.

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  7. Great list. Number 5 is a challenge to me some days. So much stuff going on that gets me down. I'm working hard at restricting the news intake. Last evening I was walking the dog on a perfect fall day -- blue skies, 70 degrees, breezy and quiet. It came to me that even though the world seems to be on fire lately on so many levels, I can just enjoy the quiet and my life in general without taking it all on for a while. It was a perfect walk.

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    1. Yes, so many things today seem designed to cause problems or distress for us. But, nature can be a balm that confirms even when things are in tormoil, nature has a good side that is there for the viewing.

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  8. What an excellent list Bob! I could not agree more, other than I tend to be an ostrich and like it that way. I read the paper, but don’t watch the news - too stressful.
    You hit the mail on the head regarding being a good listener. I have even given it a name: “the lost art of conversation.” I am finding too many retirees just want to talk on and on about themselves and never take a breath to ask about their listener. I am starting to avoid these one sided conversations.
    Thanks for sharing this thoughtful list.

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    1. Too many times with a group of seniors, health and societal ills can dominate a conversation leaving the conclusion that nature is the enemy. And, if that is all that is talked about, the end result is rather depressing.

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  9. Excellent list. It took me a while to read it. It provided thoughtful reflection.

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    1. I am happy you found the list worth the time and consideration.

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  10. I enjoyed the list and am a list maker also. I use an app called Structured. It is great for list makers because it auto loads two items every day: Wake Up! and Sleep Well! For us list makers, it is satisfying to check off the Wake Up! even if you don't do anything else for the day. List making victory first thing every morning! The trip to France appears to have been a hit. Congrats on spending some of that retirement money!

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    1. I will certainly check out that app. And, yes, France was a hit. I'll have some pictures posted soon.

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  11. Good list ... for people of any age. But your No. 9 reminds me of the quote from Will Rogers (I think): When you’re 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.

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    1. That is a pithy, accurate summation of the human condition. Thaks, Tom.

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  12. What a great list, and what great additions in the comments. If I were to add anything, it would be something about love -- giving love, receiving love, and loving yourself. One thing this year has taught me is to be open to receiving love. Such a wonderful gift to give ourselves.

    So glad that you and Betty had such a great trip. I look forward to hearing more about it.

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    1. Since love is the center of everythinhg we are, that certainly fits the list.

      Pictures from France are coming soon.

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