Is Retirement Your Cup Of Tea?

One thing I have learned about retirement it is rarely what you expect. No matter how diligent your efforts to prepare for your second act there’s no way to account for all the possible outcomes. It’s scary not knowing what to expect. If you are a person who only feels comfortable while in control even more so. I guess a positive side to the situation may be it is hard to be bored with such an unpredictable future.

No matter what uncertainty I remain a proponent of the joys of retired life. There is nothing better than getting up each day knowing what you choose to do is up to you. The pace at which you partake is yours to set. Deadlines are dead! Flexibility is the new go word – do what you want when you want for as long as you want. There is time for a nap. There is time to dig into those interests you may not have even known you had. You can get better at things that matter to you. Each New Year can truly be a new year.

Are you ready to make the most of your retirement?

Are you able to find meaning outside of your job?

After decades playing a particular role within a defined career some find it difficult to separate the working-you from the retired-you. They come to identify who they are with what they do on the job. Successes in life are defined by work achievements. One’s status is based upon where they reside in the corporate hierarchy. It can be confusing to start over with an undefined and alien role to fulfill.

Those most successful at the retired game learn to move on. Rather than dwell on who you were they try looking toward who you can be. Big offices and fancy titles don’t matter to retired folk. Rather, what you are passionate about takes center stage. Shared interests kindle relationships. Spending time with people you enjoy and want to be with is your prerogative.

For me a happy retiree is one blessed with many healthy years free from restrictions imposed by a job, free to explore new activities and adventures while growing into an independent individual defined by who he is rather than what he does.

Are you sufficiently creative to fill your hours with activities you enjoy?

No one wants to be bored in retirement. Keep busy, take advantage of your free time and make the most of your second act! Not a bad mantra but not necessarily easy to realize. I think creativity is a big part. It helps if you are willing to try new things, to step outside of restrictive comfort zones and to explore. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Don’t be worried about what others say – you are doing this for you. Follow your curiosity.

Do you need others around you to be happy?

I am someone who can usually entertain himself handily without the assistance of others. My wife is much more social and enjoys interacting more frequently with neighbors and friends. Knowing which way you lean can help better direct you toward what is most satisfying to you personally. It is healthy to interact with others, to feel part of a community and share the moments – good as well as bad. Independence is good but you can’t always do it on your own. Being part of a group allows you to share common interests while supporting one another in the many adventures and challenges retirement promises.

Are you okay doing nothing?

Most recently retired people I talk with describe feeling challenged adapting to a “less productive” post-career life. Wasting time is a big no-no conditioned into their psyche from the early days. How do they slow down without feeling guilty? It can take time to accept it is okay to do nothing. As a matter of fact it can even feel good!

The beauty of retirement is you have the power to create a balance between activity and down time. Whatever works for you is right for you. It’s fine to be productive but equally okay to chill. Finding that balance just right for you will go a long way toward shaping a first-rate retirement.

Retirement is great. What is perfect for me may not work for you and visa versa. That’s why the freedom each of us enjoys to create our own personal perfect retirement is so amazing. We do not have to follow any rigid plan. We can adapt and make changes along the way. We can tweak it until we get it just right. And once we do retirement living is hard to beat. With a little luck and reasonable effort retirement can most definitely be your cup of tea.

How To Keep Busy During The Holidays When You Are On Your Own

Written by Karen Laing

For those who are living overseas for the first time, are new empty nesters, or have recently lost a loved one, the holidays can be a daunting time. There’s a pressure to “do something special”, always in large gatherings — but that doesn’t always have to be the case. There are many ways you can have a special, restful, rejuvenating and enjoyable holiday season, all on your own.

“Spending Christmas alone can certainly be liberating. We live in a world where we are expected to conform – not doing so can be an exciting phenomenon. Of course, it really depends on which part of the world you are in – culturally speaking. Here in the West, social solitude is still stigmatized. Instead, the cultural norm is to be connected on a day-to-day basis, especially on Christmas Day.”

Psychologist Dr Arthur Cassidy

We’re sticking with the bit about it being liberating. We’ve gathered simple ways you can keep busy through the holiday season, for any budget, skill set or energy level.

Plan ahead so you have activities to look forward to each day

Being liberated of obligation doesn’t mean you have to opt out of social interaction altogether, though the holidays can keep the people you know pretty busy. If you’re a confident socializer or looking to meet some new people, why not jump on or check your local community board for some mixers? There’s no reason to quit being active in building relationships – there’s a big world out there looking for you!

There’s also no pressure to over-socialize if you’re hearts just not in it. It’s a great time of year for a relax, and a low key kind of holiday season might be exactly what you need this year, so take it as you feel.

Splurge and treat yourself

Why not treat yourself to an OTT experience or meal? Spoiling yourself doesn’t have to be a guilt fest anymore, not when the kids are grown up and on with their own lives, and you are running your own race. And spoiling yourself doesn’t have to be expensive – why not go to see your favorite classic holiday film? Eat Christmas dinner out of tradition in Chinatown, or go all out and get to the most elaborate restaurant you can to have a delicious feast.

Take a walk down memory lane

This Christmas might be your first without a special and important loved one who passed away this year. It is tough to be in a festive mood when you might be feeling down. Everyone approaches these feelings differently, though it might be a nice time to go through old photos, movies, letters or even social media accounts to remember the great holidays you took before. Sometimes Christmas is the only really quiet time of the year for reflection, so take this time to walk down memory lane, without anyone rushing you through.

While you’re at it, why not organize your moments so they are on hand throughout the year – whenever you do have a quiet moment to enjoy the memories you’ve shared with loved ones.

Join a Cause

Nothing keeps your mind busier than helping someone else in a time so synonymous with giving. It doesn’t have to be a shelter or a charity if that’s not what you’re into – help your neighbor, create something in a group, or join a community initiative – the list is endless for great things you can assist with. Take a cue from this guy who started knitting tiny hats for premature babies from the comfort of his nursing home.

Travel Solo

You might be spending this time alone, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend it at home. Travelling near or far this holiday season gives you the chance to go off the beaten path and experience something cool and unusual. There are plenty of amazing trips you can take solo. This is also an easy way to have some social connection as others are in the same position as you, travelling alone or in small groups in similar situations – you never know who you’ll meet!

Often the hardest part of spending holidays alone is navigating old traditions you’ve grown up with, while embracing new traditions for yourself. It can be especially difficult if you’re grieving from the loss of a loved one. However there’s help at hand, and you don’t have to follow the pressure of constant socializing that society demands for the holiday season. A special holiday season looks different for every person – so you do you!

Karen Laing is the founder and owner of Lady Anne Funerals. Karen loves golf, holidays in the sunshine in Bali with her family and serving her community in West Ryde, Sydney.

Focus On What You Love

It was not long ago when thoughts of Monday morning typically caused a quickening of the pulse, churning of stomach acids and noticeable tightening in the temples. After the oh so brief respite the weekend provided it was time to head back to the grind. Even if you enjoyed what you did for a living getting back into the swing of things was not always the highlight of your week. Wading through the sea of commuter traffic, fighting for a parking spot, leaping into the first-day-of-the-week meetings where managers shared newly inspired visions of the future magically concocted in the past 48 hours – and this was just the beginning of the week.

When you have to work for a living you can’t always pursue what you love. Priorities are pretty straight forward as you battle to raise a family, endeavor to climb the corporate ladder, and try to set aside a little something for the future. Maybe, if you are lucky or a bit stubborn you can find some time away from the rat race to do what you love, what really lights your fire. Without those moments of escape it can be a long tedious journey.

Welcome sweet retirement! Finally you have access to that so elusive commodity – free time. At long last you decide what to do with your day. It is up to you – so empowering and yet foreign a reality that not all are quite sure how to proceed. One way is to set your sights on doing what you love.

The other day I was scouring the bookshelf in search of a missing DVD when I discovered a stack of old piano sheet music. As a kid forced to go to piano lessons twice a week and put in my daily hour of practice I was not entirely appreciative of the skills I was developing. However, later in life and especially now I truly enjoy sitting down in front of the keyboard and playing a tune. One thing missing was new songs to play. Lo and behold here was a mish mash of tunes from a variety of genre. I happily carried the stack to the back room and soon was practicing the Theme from MASH, Bridge over Troubled Waters, and a collection of Dixieland jazz pieces. The old fingers are not what they used to be when I was in practice but now I have all the time I could want to get better. And now I love doing it.

My recently retired wife has rediscovered the joy of knitting. At another time in her life she was an avid knitter proudly displaying past accomplishments from intricate blankets to sporty caps. Then came the kids and the job and unfortunately there was no longer time to spare on this pastime she loved. Today I routinely find her online searching for new and challenging patterns for future works. Watching TV at night my peripheral vision detects a blur of motion as her hands quickly fly through the twists and turns that result in those unique creations that make the best gifts and home decorations. Recently a friend introduced her to the joy of quilting. I am not talking about just stitching together miscellaneous scraps of material but meticulously creating genuine works of art worthy of hanging on the wall. We will see how it goes but I would not be surprised if she found herself another passion to pursue in retirement.

I realize now how important it is to my own retirement happiness to know what I love and spend my time enjoying it. I cannot imagine waking up to start the day with nothing exciting to look forward to. Even the old job though painful at times at least kept me busy. I don’t do well for long in a stationary position be that mental or physical. I need to keep learning and trying new things. For me there is nothing better than looking toward the clock to see the day has flown by as I reflect with a smile on what I have been doing since rising. And not just doing but enjoying doing. It need not necessarily include any accomplishment of consequence. The real accomplishment is making the most of today doing what I enjoy and feeling good about me.

There will always be times that require me to do things I do not particularly like. However I notice this happens much less frequently than when I was on the job! Waking to a new day in control of my destiny, able to pursue those passions that excite me, that is the retirement I’m talking about. Who has time to be bored? There is so much to do. And I get to pick and choose what I want. I love being retired.