Retirement for me is an intentional way of living, aligning my lifestyle choices and actions/activities with my highest priorities/values. I’ve crafted a lifestyle vision statement based on that:
Active. Connected. Creative. Contemplative.
This blog post is simply a series of musings I’ve had this month as I’ve contemplated various blogs I am reading.
Am I Achieving?
I was very excited this month to have my book (Retirement Transition – An Innovation Approach – Amazon link here) reviewed by Kathy over at Smart Living 365. If you have not read it: Here’s the link to her blog post.
Her post raised the question, “What is Achievement?” Is achievement different than completion? Kathy hypothesized that perhaps achievement needed to be the creation of something. I added in the concepts of engagement versus mastery to the mix as I thought about it.
I think a sense of completion can be achievement. Completing a project, for sure. But also, completing a task. Even just completing the next step in the journey. Especially if those tasks, steps, activities are linked to your vision. For me, I want to be active, connected, creative & contemplative. When I complete a yoga class or post a blog or even finalize my seasonal action pan, I do feel a sense of accomplishment. I’m not mastering the skill (although I am getting a bit better over time I hope). I’m not creating anything (I feel achievement by posting, not writing!). But I am moving myself closer to the vision of how I want to live.
I’m not sure I personally have accomplishment as a strong value, but I did feel the loss of accomplishment when I stopped working. And felt a strong need to replace that benefit I got from working. Perhaps someone who has accomplishment as a stronger value would need “bigger ” tasks/ projects/ creations to fulfill their own sense of accomplishment.
But for me, completing feels like achievement. What about for you? What is accomplishment for you? Do you need it?
Kathy M. guest posted on Zen on Min’s site (link)… talking about the monkey mind (and her daily routine.) We need to form a recovering over-thinkers club! So many of us suffer monkey brain – for me it’s playing scenarios from the past (If I only said /did this), future what-if’s (plan for all the contingencies), and continual Compare & Despairs.
Some of the overthinking I’ve done this month includes worrying I’m not doing enough to keep myself healthy and vital. A blog read on Neuroplasticity (link here) talked about how you can do a lot of things in life that will enhance the functioning of your brain. This is critical for not only for continual learning but our ability to relate to the world. It also helps improve our overall feeling of wellbeing.
The first recommendation was on the physical side: active, sustained engagement (20 minutes a day) and ensuring that the activity challenged us, which means it allowed an increase difficulty and strain over time. I think my yoga and strength training fit, but I’m not doing 20 minutes everyday! The second recommendation was on the mental side: learning something new like a new language, how to dance, or playing a musical instrument. Nothing in my life choices fits this mental stimulation. What should I be exploring that fits this profile?
I continued overthinking with a thought-provoking post from Deb (link here). Since retirement, I’ve been spending time thinking about my life, in an effort to identify some put-aside dreams or passions. Because I still have not released the “should of retirement” of finding your passion! Recently I shifted thinking about my life journey from a decades approach (promoted in many inspirational books I’ve read) to looking at significant turning points. Deb talked about identifying when/where values were tested and when/where there were significant personal insights. I’m coming to realize so much of my life was about meeting (perceived) societal/parental expectations, taking the default path, and being afraid of risk (opting for security). Now I wonder if it’s too late to change.
I am still finding a balance between doing and being – this seemingly oxymoronic state of claiming to Be Un-busy and having an Action Plan. I do need my calendar/to-do lists for structure, but am finding I enjoy the slower pace of life and the time I can spend in contemplation and reading. But now I’m wondering, is contemplation over-thinking? Maybe I’m not a recovering over-thinker at all!
Oh dear, more Compare & Despair
Yes, I’m still doing Compare & Despair too often, especially on what I perceive to be the “should of retirement” which is of course the “full potential of retirement”. You know the should-do-list: the passion project that’s turned into a money making business, joining the board of one of your favorite non-profits, the boosted exercise program resulting in winning races/tournaments, the 4 times a year jaunts to the best travel locations plus learning a new language beforehand to enhance the experience, the spontaneous activities (because work is structured and retirement should be freedom), and the move to the downsized, de-cluttered, age-in-place home with an amazing view.
Retirement is about making personal lifestyle choices that fit personal values and visions. I need to keep reminding myself of that and recognize that people’s suggestions or questions of “You should try…”, “Where are YOU traveling to…” or “I don’t need X (like you seem to)” is NOT an indicator of judgment on my choices! Recently that I realized I “hear” judgmental undertones (overtones?) when they might not even be there! That awareness has been amazingly helpful… sometimes people are simply asking a question out of curiosity, a desire for connection, or to provide information… they are not judging your choices. (OK, sometimes they might be, but I will not care… they have different values and visions!)
Realizing I am a structure-girl, a list maker, and a planner and being OK with it has been freeing. I am healthy, in a wonderful long-term relationship, and financially secure. I love my own litany of choices (my own weekly highlight reel!) that can include: write a blog post, read blogs, read books (inspirational and fun ones), take a class (creative or learning), build my strength training habit, food shop at my favorite boutique stores, do yoga (especially on the beach), do crossword puzzles, go on mini-adventures in town, see a play, create lists, link up with friends, and play in the garden. Yeah, I have a happy, full life and I will stop perceiving “expectations”; I will stop apologizing for who I am and the choices I’ve made: I will continue to be grateful for what I have.
How do you stop the Compare & Despair?
I’ve been having a feeling of friendship abandonment this month. Two of my regular Walk & Talk friends have both returned to full-time work. They are in different life stages – one is now empty nesting, one is now kid-full-time in school – and they both choose to return to work full-time at this point in their lives. They were two of my reliable long walk & talks – one weekly and one monthly. (Unfortunately, I’m not good at walking without accountability partners.) And there was the good friend who moved overseas for a 2-3 year assignment, so no more monthly Whine & Wine. Then my Florida part-time neighbor (snow bird like me) told me she’s getting a divorce and her soon-to-be-ex is taking the Florida property. We had already made plans for next winter. I’m feeling a sense of loosing connections this month!
In a similar area of thought, an old post from “Where the Wild Things Are” ended with “The grass is always greener when you water it” quote. (link here) This is not a phrase I had heard before and I love it. It was about attention to relationships — take the time …. to listen, to express appreciation, and find things to do together. It made me ponder: What am I putting on my Autumn List to “water the grass”, especially as I’m feeling friendship loss?
I finally figured out podcast listening. A bit anyway. I’m working through a list of ones recommended, listening while re-starting my strength training. So far, only 1 is a “return to” podcast. [I’ve got 5-6 more on the try-it list.] I’ve been surprised how it feels like old-time talk radio! Guess it’s like calling bell-bottoms flares.
An intriguing moment from my podcast listening: The idea that instead of trying to shut down the negative voices in your head, encourage the positive ones! Use affirmations. And surround yourself with supportive people – those that encourage you to try and celebrate your minor victories. My blogging community is definitely this!
Missed Photo Opps
So mad at myself that I didn’t have my phone out taking photos…. so many missed photo opportunities this month. I have got to start documenting some things so I can post big thing pictures… or just great memory pictures. This month? I met a blogging buddy IRL!! (Hi Karen H). We had a full family gathering to celebrate the adoption of my newest great-nieces! (My family side is only 11 people, but we live in 3 different states and last time we were all together was 10 years ago). A midweek foodies event was a great charcuterie layout at the home of one of our foodie friends. Spending time at the beach with hubby. And I got a lovely new pedicure (went with a new FL friend – a lunch date).
My September was full of musings. Overthinking? Maybe! What have you been musing about?
Picture Credit: Canva (still trying… not there yet)