“Get On Your Feet” Gloria Estefan

No, this post isn’t about Gloria Estefan’s Broadway musical, although that may be a future post, if I make my way into NYC to see it.  Nope, this  is about that second essential ingredient for a happy retirement:  Good Health.

Yes, we all SAY we want good health, but what do we DO?  We overeat, and what we are stuffing into our mouths is usually the worst possible choice.  We smoke (well, I never did, but I am related to people that still do.  Yeesh.)  We act like The Cat in the Hat children.  “All we could do was sit, sit, sit, sit”.  We keep on electing NRA sponsored candidates that refuse to do anything about crazy people owning weapons of mass destruction, also known as assault weapons.  (Whoops, got carried away by current events–that too belongs in a different, possibly future, post.)

Yes, it helps to be born with the right genes, but research continues to uncover the very strong link between lifestyle and good health, which is something that we “lifestyle managers” believe and preach enthusiastically to anyone that will listen.

About those genes: If our parents’ lifespans are any indication, there is a strong probability that Mike and I have inherited “longevity genes”.  His made it into their ’90s.  Mine are close to that milestone.  But what about the quality of those later years?   I’ve seen first-hand what lack of exercise can do to a person–both mentally and physically, and it isn’t pretty.

So, why wait for the calendar to flip to do something wonderful for yourself?   Who says resolutions can only be made on New Year’s?

Full disclosure.  I hate the thought of exercising.  During my college years, I cut more of the required gym classes than I attended.  Lucky for me the gym teacher sucked at taking attendance.  So, when even an external requirement couldn’t get me into the gym in my younger days, how do I now get my sagging butt out the door?  Major psych up.  I tell myself I’m doing my part to keep Medicare costs down.  (You’re welcome, Gen X,  Y, and Millenniums).  I remind myself of the places that I want to visit and the things I want to do once I get there.  (Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet in the spring.  Yeah baby).   I look at what the total absence of exercise has done to my mother, and realize that I wouldn’t want my one child to have the responsibilities for care that are currently being shared by me and my siblings.

During my work years, I had a community of co-workers and a structured week.  By joining the YMCA, I discovered the retirement equivalent of both.  The variety of classes offered provides structure, and the friendly and welcoming  attendees (mostly women) have become part of my community.

Notice I didn’t mention six pack abs in my reasons for exercising.  Truth be told, if those three words appeared in a sentence about me, it would be this one.   “Check out her abs–looks like she drank a whole six pack in one sitting”.  No,  at my age, exercise isn’t about looking better.  It’s about staying the same.  And that’s a great goal for someone who will be 70 in 4 years!

How about you?  Wanna join me?  I’m off to zumba right after I push the publish button.

 

Mix These Four Essential Ingredients to Cook Up a Happy Retirement

Recently I attended a colleague’s retirement party.  It was the first time I had seen many  co-workers since I left the workforce four years ago.  I was surprised that so many of them were surprised by how happy and relaxed I appeared.  Several asked me what “my secret” is.  I didn’t have an answer then, because I hadn’t given the matter much thought.  But given my current abundance of free time,  I’ve been able to ponder the subject deeply and have come to the conclusion that the “secret” isn’t so secret at all.  It all boils down to four really simple ingredients.  I hope you are enjoying the cooking analogy–after years of “on my radar, teeing things up, drilling down, hitting the ground running, and pushing the envelope”, I figured it’s time for a change.

You ready?  The essential ingredients for a happy retirement are:

  • Strong personal relationships
  • Adequate financial resources
  • Good health
  • Oomph

I told you it was simple, but hey,  Tom Jefferson got a lot of mileage out of stating ‘self evident’  truths, so let’s see how it will work for me.  Besides, ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’ are two very different things.  I think we all know that family and health are important, but how do we behave?   I certainly was guilty of letting the work day spill over into family and friend time.  I skipped exercising and ate far too many fast, easy (and less nutritious) meals.  So, today’s post will start with the ingredient that has a tendency to crowd out the others:

Adequate Financial Resources
Isn’t that the reason we put in all those hours–to ensure that we have “adequate financial resources”?   Over time, I learned that the most important word in that phrase is “adequate”.

Although I benefited greatly from working for insurance companies that regularly flooded me with information about financial planning, saving, & pensions, what was probably most helpful was a wonderful book by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, “Your Money or Your Life”.   This easy to read book helps you become aware of the trade offs that you unknowingly make by overspending. My favorite quote:

Rich only exists in comparison to others, but financial independence means that you have enough and then some.

Without trying hard, I’ll bet we can easily think of someone that has greater financial resources than 95% of the world’s population, but they always seem to want more.  They haven’t quite grasped the concept of enough.

Two of my closest friends have traveled all over the world on very little money.  For example, they managed to spend a month in Greece and two weeks in Ireland on what they had saved from two years of Peace Corp salary!  They know what is important to them, and their spending reflects what they value.

When I was growing up, my dad  used to tell me  “Your wants are many, but your needs are few”.  He was so right.

So, for all you young ‘uns out there, before you slap down your credit card, you might want to take a minute to think about to how you are allocating your dollars and your “life’s energy”, as Dominguez and Robin put it.

How did we get those resources?
I’ll admit it–we have been lucky.  We haven’t had any major illnesses or financial catastrophes.  And, although we both were impacted by mergers and acquisitions, we were able to find other employment relatively easily.

We also decided to give Lady Luck a helping hand.  As our incomes rose, we didn’t increase our spending.  Instead we opted to increase our contributions to our no-load mutual funds.  We didn’t run up credit card debt, only charging what we could pay off by the time the bill arrived.  We saved so that we could pay cash for our cars, maintained them and kept them well past their first decade.  Instead of a monthly car payment, we made those “payments” to ourselves, so we weren’t paying interest, we were earning it.  And guess what?  We never felt deprived.

It all goes back to knowing what is important to you, and making sure that your behavior aligns with your objectives.  Simple in concept, sometimes challenging to do.  But SO very worth it!

Next post–Good Health!

Just what exactly does a Lifestyle Manager DO?

On December 1, 2015 I started my fifth year as the CEO of Destination Now, a Lifestyle Management company.  In honor of this milestone, I thought I’d create what in the business world might be known as an annual report.  Except in THIS case, there are qualifiers: I didn’t do one for the past four years –so much for annual–I and don’t expect to do another one ever again. Plus it is REALLY, really short.  You ready?

Mission statement: To make the most of every day, occasionally to enjoy both walking down memory lane, and peering into the future, but to stay fully focused on and present in the PRESENT.
Number of Employees: ONE (that would be me)
Customers:  One MAIN customer (my loving husband), plus a very select group comprised of family and friends (who are willing to let a control freak take charge)
Revenue:   Cash: $0.00;
In Kind: Caboodles of wine, dinners, memories and friendship (all tax free!)

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Okay, so that’s a long winded way to say that I’ve been retired for 4 years, and am having a fantastic time planning and executing fun, food, and travel for my husband, my family and friends.  It’s just that occasionally, when asked the inevitable question “what do you do”,  I feel compelled to get creative.  Be honest–which version did YOU prefer?

More free time has allowed me to become more self aware, and I have to acknowledge that I do better with goals and objectives.   Before I retired, I took to cyberspace to see what I could learn from those that had trod that path ahead of me, and I benefitted greatly from their words of wisdom.  So, over the coming weeks, as a way to ‘pay it forward’,  I have set a goal to post more regularly, sharing what I have experienced/learned over the past 4 years, in the hope that doing so will help others more easily transition to this new life stage. As a bonus— we will ALL learn whether I can emulate the discipline shown by some of my favorite bloggers who post regularly.