2024 March 26 Make the most of retirement by thinking positively

Mar 26, 2024

Hi, this is Jim Cranston from 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com, the podcast and website about re-imagining your life.  Thanks for joining me today to talk about focusing on what matters to you. If you like what you hear today, please leave a like, tell your friends and send me a message.


Thanks for joining me tonight to talk about envisioning and constructing a life that matters to you, and how to gently ignore some of the things that other people may say to you. 


But before we get going on the main topic, for all my Catholic and Christian friends, I'd like to wish you a blessed and happy holy week and Easter. I sing with both the Spanish and English choirs.  Between that and some other church-related technical work I was doing, I got to thinking about how much of my day is spent on things that I truly enjoy versus just making a living. 


I was reading an interesting story in today's Wall Street Journal, in the personal journal section, talking about retiring. This article was about single women from various backgrounds. In common with the other articles on retirement, the attitude of the people made more of a difference in their happiness than the actual dollar amount saved.


This is a common theme, and it's really worth paying attention to, because no matter how much money you have saved (or don't),  how you envision retirement and how you approach it has the biggest impact on whether or not you're going to be happy or dissatisfied.


Of this particular group of people, I think there were four or five women with savings ranging from over two million dollars to zero savings at the time of retirement. The most contented one of the bunch was probably the one who had zero saved. What?  


By retiring early, she was able to still work part-time, and part-time in her case is typically ten to twenty hours a week, but she could focus on only doing things that she found interesting and/or fulfilling. She's been doing this for eight years. Now eight years later, she's traveled much of the world to over 30 countries, has two or three online businesses, plus does offline work such as house sitting, and has saved over $100,000 in a Vanguard IRA by just managing expenses and watching how she lives.


She has no debt and is making a six figure income, and she enjoys every day. What a change! She hated her old work situation. She didn't hate the work itself, but she was working overnights and stuff like that. She decided she was not going to live the rest of her life that way, and so she isn't. 


She still goes home to see her folks and her family and friends regularly, but she has a whole new life that she's excited to live, and she's created a number of new career opportunities for herself, including starting a coaching and event business to teach others how she did it and teach them the steps of what she did.


The biggest thing is overcoming that first step. She did what we are all capable of doing. She looked into her future, didn't like what she saw, made some difficult decisions, and then made some big changes in her life. This is exactly what we are talking about.


If you do the same thing as everybody else, you'll probably get what everyone else gets. If you want something different, then you'll probably have to do something different. Of course, the double challenge as we get older is that one part of us becomes more risk averse, while the other part becomes less concerned with risk and appearance.


Remember the Geezer's paradox from a couple weeks ago (the March 5th, 2024 episode). The crux of it is, as you get older, you care less about what other people say. That's a real freedom.


It's something that gives you a real power that you may not have had when you were younger.  If you're progressive when you're younger, as you get older you become more mature. People think you probably should be a little more conservative. You're older now. You should be doing things more quietly. I'd argue the other way, that as you get older, that's exactly the time to become more creative in your thinking because that's when you have the most experience and the most to give to others and to yourself.


When the woman who quit her job and recreated her life told her parents, perhaps they thought she'd had a mental breakdown or some mental issues going on. This is just completely out of the scope of what we would expect somebody your age to be doing, or even anybody retiring to be doing. 


But little did they realize until later that she had had an epiphany. As important, at that same time, she also had the will and the determination to make that way her new vision--her new reality.  That's really the most important takeaway that we always come back around to. It's not that you can always sit and think of something to do. Thoughts are easy. 


There's an old business saying that good ideas, even great ideas, are a dime a dozen, but actionable ideas and actually taking action on them--that's what has a lot of value. It's the same thing here. We can think, Oh, I want to do this. I want to do that. But it's actually mustering up the focus and the courage to take those next steps and actually act upon it and move ahead and do it.


One of the people that works with me went through a very similar thing. She had a pretty okay job, and it was paid benefits and it was going to move forward, but she didn't enjoy it. It was sucking the life out of her. It wasn't a horrible job, but it just had no interest to her.


So she really completely recreated her life, freed up space in her mind and in her time, and she finished another college degree. It changed the whole course of her life. I don't think her family, probably anybody, when she told them what she was doing, said, Oh, that's a great idea.


It's probably , You have a good job. Why are you doing this?  People are always trying to help you, and they're trying to protect you and keep you safe. What's typically safe in the eyes of what society is to be expected of somebody. 


If you're doing something that has a totally different view on life, just be proud of it. You get to define your own happiness, own it, be comfortable with it. Use that to give you the power to move forward. 


Your homework (always optional) is to think about what you would do to make yourself the most content if you couldn't possibly fail and you didn't care what anyone else thought. Extra points if you take that vision and imagine telling one of your friends and think about what they might say, and then think about how they might try and guide or dissuade you. Think about what you would say back to them. This is really important to me. This is really very fulfilling to me. It's none of your business. You can pick whatever response you want, but I would suggest that the one that's more truly fulfilling to you will probably be the one most likely to convince them and also to most encourage you.


That's it for the evening. Please remember the war in Ukraine, the war in Israel, Palestine. There's a lot going on in the world right now. You can go to UKR7.com, a site where you can get some donation links. There's also the World Central Kitchen at WCK.org. Remember that one of the best ways to care for yourself is to care for others.


If you don't have money to donate, just  think outside of yourself and put yourself in someone else's shoes. Say hi to someone on the street, just be nice to them, just make the world a little bit better place. That's what will change the world. 


As always, thank you for stopping by. If you found something interesting or useful, please pass it along. Please hit that like button. If not, please drop me a comment as to what you'd like to hear. Have a great week. Remember to live the life that you dream of, because that's the path to true contentment. Love and encouragement to everyone. See you next week on 7EveryMinute and 7EveryMinute.com. Thank you. 


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