What do I really NEED in retirement?

Everywhere we look these days we find bountiful advice about how to best prepare for retirement.  Advisers who know absolutely nothing about us as individuals with lives as unique and different as snowflakes on a winter day are nevertheless confident about making recommendations that will dictate whether or not we will be happy once retired.

Save enough so that you can spend 4% each year; you will need at least 80% of your current earnings to live comfortably in retirement; downsizing is the way to go when you reach senior citizen status.

And these guidelines will facilitate a “happy retirement” according to whose definition of happy? Most of us cannot even agree on a movie to watch let alone what will ultimately provide us with a satisfying life in retirement. I am not sure that I trust someone who does not know me to make such a critical recommendation for me.

What is it that I really NEED in retirement to be content? If it was entirely up to me – actually it is – is there a magic formula?

Here is what I really NEED in retirement to be happy (WARNING: your mileage may vary…):

(1) My wife – my best friend, my confidant, my ever-tough backgammon opponent, my sanity in an insane world, my shelter from the storm, and my biggest fan who laughs at my jokes when others only gaze in wonder. Each day when we awake, we face each other, snuggle closer together, and embrace like it was the first time. We hold this position for minutes on days that we work, longer on weekends. But it is the starting point for every day and we are reminded of the special bond between us and never take each other for granted. Talk about the way to start your day!

(2) The ocean – each of us has some place that brings us a feeling of inner peace, where heart rates decrease, stress departs, and we just plain enjoy being. For me it is the beach. Constant rolling waves along distant shorelines with an ever-changing landscape of sand, shells, gnarly driftwood and whip-like seaweed are just the ticket. And it is not about necessarily living on the beach but just being able to walk there. Gas for the trip – $15; lunch for two $15; feeling I get when I am there – priceless.

(3) A house to live in – our mortgage is almost paid off. So the house is a little bigger than we may need just the four of us (two peoples, two cats). That is okay despite what the pundits recommend. So the neighborhood is changing – the good news is young families are moving in with their kids. Nothing makes me feel younger than watching youngsters playing around the neighborhood. And nothing serves better to remind me how lucky we are that OUR kids are raised! Traffic may be getting worse – where do I really have to be that cannot wait until rush hour is done and gone? Our house is a home – our home.

(4) Good health – the wild card that is a bit out of our immediate control. We do all we can with regular exercise, healthy diet (I actually drank a concoction this morning made of celery, carrots, lettuce, and kale with a little ginger thrown in for good measure. The nutrition is awesome and the taste is not really bad at all – trust me!) , moderate alcohol consumption (I do love my red wine), and just an overall focus on doing what is good for us. But we do not know what the cards have in store so we live each day and appreciate it and each other.

A happy retirement cannot be calculated or formulated with a one-size-fits-all mentality.

We are individuals with unique tastes and desires and definitions of what is happiness.

The trick is not to stress out about the right formula.

The trick is to figure out the real definition that fits – your definition of happiness.

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Family Matters- Active Adults Need to Cultivate Relationships, Not Abandon Them

Guest blog for http://lovebeingretired.com

It’s easy for us to get wrapped up in our own lives and our own business. Everybody does it from time to time, but eventually we all come back to the reality that there are other people that are important. Or, at least, we should. In retirement, it is so easy for us to think only about our needs and our desires, and we deserve it for all that we’ve done in our lives. Add to that the children constantly ‘checking in’ on us and it can easily become second nature to abandon the relationships that we’ve held all of our lives because we cannot be bothered by being checked on or simply because we don’t want to feel like a burden.

 

Without relationships in your life, it will be difficult for you to maintain a healthy level of mental and physical well being. So many active adults have families with busy lives, which causes them to go by the wayside when things get busy. You see people less and less, get fewer phone calls, and somehow you learn to accept that this is just the way that it will be. Don’t let yourself believe this, at all. This is not how it has to be, and certainly not how it should be. You need to reach out to your family, your friends, and the people around you. You need to ask for help, attention, and ask for those relationships that are being put second to be put first.

 

There is nothing wrong with having independence and space, but you need to also make sure that you have strong relationships with your family and friends. During retirement, those relationships are often what set people apart. The ones with more relationships or better ones will have happier, healthier days in retirement while those who have fewer relationships or strained relationships will likely face more illness, depression, and loneliness as the years go on. Work on your relationships. Make sure that you stay in touch with your family and make yourself an active part of their lives. Make them an active part of yours. You’ll all be better for it in the end.

 

Contributed by Mary Albert, a blogger for a senior health web site that provides advice for the 55+ age group as well as medical alert reviews

Is your glass half full or half empty?

As I look out at the plum tree in our backyard, I notice tell tale signs of the coming spring. Green buds that will be flowers are filling out the branches and I see a smattering of blooms already venturing out. Though predictable, the suddenness of this burst of new life which was absent just one week ago is always astounding and sometimes a little unnerving. Another spring is springing, the clock keeps ticking, and time marches on.

 

As I get older I cannot help but wonder what this year holds in store. Will we see a rebound in the economy that we all hope and pray for? Will someone finally figure out how to help the long-term-unemployed and those victims of the mortgage debacle or will these folks be forced to continue somehow surviving on their own? How far out is the next bubble and what will fill it this time? How will we be physically or mentally different a year from now?

 

Wow, re-reading the last paragraph I notice a rather negative line of thinking. It has been a challenging few years but there are good things as well as bad. Optimism and pessimism are sides of the same coin.

 

So I thought what about taking a look at things from the perspective of that old glass of water, the one that we often refer to as either half empty or half full. If I was a negative person – aka glass half empty – what might I be concerned with as another year is added on? Will this be the year that:

1.    I become too old to beat my son at racket ball?

2.    My vision gets worse and I struggle just to see the TV at times

3.    I have to reduce the weights I lift by some amount while working out

4.    I decide that I will no longer bend down to pick up a dime but only stoop for a quarter or higher

5.    A hearing aid enters the picture

6.    I lose someone close to me

7.    I develop some long term ailment

 

Unfortunately this list can go on forever.

 

What if every one of these potential negative events occurs this year, how could I respond? Albeit that would be a nasty year by any standards, it is not impossible. How might a glass half full perspective help to survive and in fact continue with a desire to live more?

1.    My son is getting better and faster and stronger growing into a man and along the way his skill at racket ball has grown to exceed mine. I gladly hand over the crown.

2.    I can quickly be fitted with a stylish pair of spectacles and my vision will be as good as when I was a kid, maybe even better.

3.    I am still working out to maintain my strength, balance and stamina – never surrender! So I cannot lift as much now – who am I trying to impress anyway?

4.    With inflation over the years, a quarter is worth today about what a dime was not long ago so nothing has really changed here.  🙂

5.    With a hearing aid I can better follow conversations around me and minimize my “pardon me, can you repeat that?” requests. And people can hardly detect that I am wearing one.

6.    I learn to never take for granted the people who are important to me, I learn to treasure each moment today since tomorrow is not guaranteed, and I learn that pain is a part of life that no amount of optimism will ever erase 100 percent.

7.    Similar to #6, I live each day as best I can and appreciate each breath that I take.

 

Keep on blooming you plum trees! I will enjoy you today for all you are worth.

 

Bring it on life – no one said it would be easy.

 

I can think of no better way to end than to share a poem from Ralph Waldo Emerson who had it figured out when he wrote the definition of a successful life. I believe that living such a life – a glass half full life – is within the reach of each of us. It’s all about our attitude and how we choose to view the world.

 

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.