How to Inspire Others in Retirement

Older age often brings less than flattering descriptors that few baby boomers would like associated with them. Would you want to be called decrepit, feeble, unstable, grumpy, crotchety, absent minded, stuck in the past, or a burden on society? But that is how some people view the elderly, no matter how far from the truth it may be.

But those of us who are part of the aging population have an opportunity to change this misperception. Retirement provides an opportunity to become a source of inspiration to others, even as our hair grays and our memories weaken. When someone interacts with me at age 70, I don’t want them to see just an old man. To enlighten others to see beyond my wrinkles, I plan to whenever possible do the following:

Stop complaining. No one wants to listen to someone complain or be known as a complainer. Therefore, I will not lead conversations with what ails me. I will endeavor to focus on positives rather than dwell on negatives.

Listen and hear. When I engage with others I will pay close attention to what they are saying and wait my turn to speak. What others have to say has as much value as anything I may wish to say. While listening I will try to pay attention to the content and feelings behind the words, rather than planning what I will say next. I may not have all the answers, but I can surely give someone my undivided attention and allow them to have their say, instead of automatically jumping in with advice. I will try to remember that just because I am older does not necessarily mean I am wiser.

Do not be judgmental. Yes, I have years of experience and have been through a lot, but that does not give me the right to judge others. I am not living in their shoes and can never know the real story of the life they are living. I will try to remain objective, see things as they really are, and not judge.

Smile. There are many things about getting older that I do not like, but I will not live my retirement life wearing a frown. All I need to do is pick up a newspaper to read about others who have it much worse than me. There is always something in my life that I can smile about, and I will do my best to smile about it.

Be charitableCharity is not just about giving money but also sharing time and genuinely caring. I will do my best to try to be available to others in need, even if I can give no more than my time and attention.

Be realistic. I am no longer twenty and my behaving as if I were can be an embarrassment to me and those around me. I will try to accept my limitations, but not dwell on them. I may not be able to hit a home run, but I can still stand up at the plate and take my swings.

Live by example. I will try to practice what I preach when it comes to living a good life. Nothing rings more falsely than someone telling others how to live while doing the opposite. I will do my best to follow my own advice.

From my blog on US News & World. Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.

Accepting Aging

Say it isn’t so. Out walking this morning, I glanced down at my short-pant-clad legs and saw something I had not noticed before. The last time I looked at my legs, I remember seeing nicely toned, could-be-a-little-more-tanned thighs holding me up. Today I swear I saw the legs of an “older” man. Nothing drastic but you know how the skin seems to have been over stretched just a bit and is not clinging as tightly to the muscles beneath? Then it dawned on me – I am getting older, not just on the inside but on the outside as well.

How was it possible for aging to catch up with me? I have been an exercise fanatic since college and even today have a regular routine. I ride the stationary bike 3-4 times a week for 40 minutes with my heart rate around 130-140, I lift weights twice a week, I do a yoga/pilates routine twice a week, and on the weekends, my wife and I take a long walk in the nearby hills or beach. We eat very well avoiding fat and salt, go organic whenever we can, and do not over eat. Sure we are both over 50 now but what the heck!

I guess when it comes to aging, you can run but you cannot hide.

I have always been a realist. I accept the facts for what they are and go with the flow. This aging thing is just another part of my life and I need to realize and accept that fact. Aside from the physical aspects (I will miss my young legs), I realized there are many positives that have come with my advancing years and the knowledge I have gained.

(1)  I have successfully raised two wonderful children who make me proud each time we interact. Each has grown into a young adult filled with those values that are important in life and critical to their continuing happiness. Had I not grown “older” (not OLD), I would not have been with them each step of the way helping where needed, encouraging on occasion, and admiring their progress often. I would not change it for the world.

(2)  With age comes wisdom – friends and family may quickly point out that I have not nearly reached the pinnacle of my ultimate wisdom, but I have been learning along the way.  I have learned not to sweat the little things but instead to accept that not everything will go the way I want, nor necessarily should it. I have learned to immeasurable value of my family who have been with me through numerous difficult times, supported me, loved me, and without whom I would not be the person I am today (or maybe even here today). I have learned that it is okay to cry because if you feel like crying, there is a reason. I have learned that my wife is my best friend, my confidant, consciously blind to my faults, always there when I need her. I have learned that money does not make the moment nor buy happiness – that can only be found within you.

(3)  Pursuing a passion is what ultimately makes each day worth living. I realize that I worked 30 years (probably a few more to be added to that) at various jobs to make a living. Although that is a worthwhile, noble pursuit and it does get you up each day, you will not likely arise with the excitement, energy, and urge to get to it. I am not complaining – I did what I had to do, met some wonderful people along the way, participated in the growth of multiple companies, and survived. But my advice to those starting down the employment path or still early in their careers will be to look for that passion. How much better to start your day WANTING to get going, anxious to do what you LOVE, a force to be dealt with. If you do what you love, the money will come. And even if it is not a fortune, don’t trade your happiness for the promise of a big bank account.

(4)  Frugal can be fun! Life can be enjoyed on a budget, economically. Extravagant spending is for the rich and spending more does not proportionately increase pleasure. Finding a good deal is satisfying in itself and as long as you are with the one you love, every moment has the potential to be memory making.

(5) Just because we are getting a bit along in years does not mean we cannot try to look our best. Looking good makes us feel  good. There is no reason we should not take advantage of products and services available to enhance our positives and perhaps tone and brighten any weaknesses. Bye Bye Foundation cosmetics is one source that can provide full coverage of blemishes and skin imperfections. Why not look your best no matter what our age?

(6)  I cannot change the past, I do not know what the future holds, so my best bet is to live in this present moment. My aim is to focus on today, now and live it fully.

As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed. ~ Vincent van Gogh

Life is a journey and our faithful travel companion is our aging mind and body. We can prepare for the trip with maps and plans and wishes, but the road ultimately leads where it will. The best way to enjoy the trip is to appreciate each moment, each new sight and sound and feeling. Live, learn, love, and keep going. Who knows what lies beyond the next sunrise…

 

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.