Forrest Gump – Senior Citizen Role Model

“Life is like a box of chocolates…” I bet that everyone reading this blog is familiar with that famous phrase from the movie Forrest Gump. And I would venture that the likelihood that you have seen the movie only once is pretty slim as well. Throughout this wonderful movie, Forrest proves to be an endearing, caring, forgiving, somewhat inept character that we all come to love long before the movie’s end. He perpetually gets himself into sticky situations and then slick as an eel, gets himself out. Although life around him is not always fair or kind, he keeps on truckin’ and in the end not only gets the girl but makes a fortune as well. I am not sure what his retirement plans look like or how he might choose to spend his retired life but I think it is safe to say he has paid his dues and has some options.

What if Forrest Gump was to retire in your neighborhood? What kind of a senior citizen do you think he would be? As he aged, he would face the same effects of aging we all face with the exception of needing money! Would Forrest be the kind of retired neighbor that you enjoyed running into as you went about your daily errands? At the end of the day, would you share a night cap with him on his porch reliving life’s events? I believe that Forrest Gump is exactly the type of senior citizen that we would want to spend time with. Going one step further, I believe that the way Forrest faces life and how I think he would live retirement is the perfect example for how each of us should live as seniors. Here is why Forrest Gump is the ideal senior citizen role model:

  • He sees the good in everyone – Forrest is not looking for ulterior motives. He does not second guess why we do something but instead takes what we do at face value. If you tell him something, he of course believes you. If you say you are going to do something, of course he expects that you will be true to your word. By treating people as if they are good, sometimes they make an effort to live up to expectations.
  • He will do everything in his power to help you out – remember when Forrest rushed repeatedly into the jungles of Vietnam to save multiple injured soldiers? He was not looking for fame or fortune – he only wanted to help those in need. With no concern for himself or his own safety, he rushed back into the raging battle. In our lives, such life-or-death situations are fortunately not too likely. But there are many who cross our path who we can offer help and encouragement at little risk to ourselves. A good time to be like Forrest.
  • He doesn’t sweat the little things – Forrest accepts the fact that he is slower than most and because of that, other kids will pick on him (sometimes difficult if they cannot catch him!). Lt Dan is openly angry with him saving his life but Forrest remains unphased. He buys a shrimp boat and ends up catching nothing but trash from the bay. But he keeps on chugging and smiling and running, focusing on what really matters.
  • He loves honestly, openly, without reservation – throughout the story, Jenny moves in and out of his life as she struggles to find her winding way in the world. More than once, Forrest is left high-and-dry as the relationship limps along. But never does he lash out or complain or blame anyone for his situation. He has found the love of his life and he will be waiting until she ultimately comes around. Despite the risk of being hurt and the many challenges along the way, Forrests love never waivers. Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots.
  • He does not obsess over money – Forrests retirement savings took a very positive bump with some fortunate events (the only surviving shrimp boat in Louisiana after Hurricane Carmen) and some timely investing (Lieutenant Dan got me invested in some kind of fruit company. So then I got a call from him, saying we don’t have to worry about money no more. And I said, that’s good! One less thing”). He could continue working and try to keep adding to that “nest egg” as so many do. Instead he gives half of his Apple stock to Bubbas family and he “volunteers” his time mowing the lawn for the Greenbow County for free. Forrest accepts his fame and fortune with good nature and without a swelling head. And I think he realizes when enough is enough.
  • Forrest does not over intellectualize the moment – he takes a brief think, makes his decision and if he has no other option, he takes off running!
  • He is humble – Forrest is not overwhelmed by titles or fame. Despite meeting with numerous U.S. presidents, becoming an international ping-pong-phenomenon, talking with John Lennon on the Dick Cavett Show, and inspiring a nation with his cross-country run, he is not full of himself. Whereas many a retired executive strives to impress us with stories of past glory days, Forrest is comfortable in his fame and far from boring with his stories!
  • He loves and respects his momma –Mama always had a way of explaining things so I could understand them”

“I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floatin’ around accidental-like on a breeze. But I think maybe it’s both”

We could all use a little Forrest Gump in us. Although we may not prefer him solving the mysteries of the atom or negotiating world peace, those characteristics that make him so lovable would find a nice home in our lives. This combination along with a pervasive innocence is why I believe that a retired Forrest Gump is the ideal senior citizen role model.

That’s all I have to say about that.

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


Retirement Planning Must Have – Goal Setting

Ever since we were little tykes, back eons ago, we have been taught that in order to achieve anything of real consequence, we must set goals. Without defining an ultimate destination, how can we know the right steps to take, if we are on the right path, or if we are even getting closer to our desired result? If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes” said Andrew Carnegie. Achieving our goals is one major motivator in the workplace, providing real personal satisfaction along with praise and recognition from others, plus it keeps us in a job! Is it possible to achieve a similar satisfaction in retirement life? Does goal setting fall to the wayside when we retire or does it still have a place in the lives of senior citizens?

Goal setting for life

Although we no longer have project deadlines or sales quotas or corporate goals to strive for, retired life can still be very busy. Particularly if we follow what should be our personal commitment to do everything that we want to do now that we have the time to do it. That can generate one heck of a list, even overwhelming if you do not have a strategy. Setting goals that can be measured helps keep you on track, focuses your efforts on what works, and provides you with the satisfaction of a job well done once achieved.

To be effective pursuing goals, I find it helpful to think of each as short-term (today or tomorrow), medium term (weeks to months), and longer term. For example, today I uploaded and labeled pictures from our recent Paris trip and sent an update to family and friends on our safe arrival – short-term goal, achieved. Also on my list is to research replacing our cable TV/internet/phone service with a more affordable alternative. Over the past week, I have collected information from the internet as well as making some calls – the upcoming Google TV sure looks interesting – and I plan to make a final decision before the end of September – medium term goal. As for long-term, one example is my plan to get back to playing the piano well, something I did in high school, loved, but have not pursued. To play the way I want to play will require lots of practice and it will take time, a long time, and so a long-term goal on my list.

There are some wonderful blogs out there focusing on retirement life with all of its rewards and challenges. Here are a few that I read regularly that may help with your retirement goal efforts. And as an added bonus – each site contains a lot of useful and pertinent information for us all as we approach and live our retired lives:

Have some fun with it. After all, goal setting in retired life SHOULD be fun – you are making plans to help achieve your dreams. Nothing happens unless first we dream” said Carl Sandberg. This time around, your success will not be rewarded with a bonus or accolades from your boss, but with your own deep felt personal satisfaction. Can you think of a more worthwhile goal to have?

 

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


To your Good Health – Aging Well Living Senior

Good health is a blessing that we take for granted while young but learn to treasure as we advance in years. Something that takes no conscious effort in our twenties and thirties, starts to require a little attention in our forties and fifties as “things” begin to slow down (like our metabolism), and becomes a focal point in our 60+ and retirement life. In efforts to fight the effects of aging, we exercise diligently, watch our diet religiously, and cut back on the “bad things” even though they are so good. Without good health, our senior quality of life can be less than what we hope for and deserve after working all our lives.

Consider your health

To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable – Oscar Wilde

Baby boomers and the rest of the senior citizens that will increasingly make up our planet over the coming years need to factor health into elderly lifestyle considerations. Challenges of old age will arise as retirees become even more senior and it is important that we learn to cope with the impact of aging. Although we cannot plan 100% for what we do not know, it is important to make some preparations and start having discussions to avoid being caught flat-footed.

  • If you are contemplating moving to a new location to retire, you need to investigate the local hospitals and health care infrastructure. How far would you need to travel for regular checkups? In case of an emergency, where is the nearest help coming from? What about your primary care physician? If you decide to move to a small town to enjoy your neighbors and neighborhood, your options may be limited.
  • Understanding the current health care programs and selecting the right coverage for you and your spouse is critical. Walter Cronkite once said that “America’s health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.” But it is what it is. Healthy now can change abruptly and you want to be protected. The laws and terms are evolving as we speak and to say they are complex is an understatement. However, to research the options and apply to your individual retired situation, the National Council on Aging provides some helpful advice and additional links as well as programs that can help you pay for prescription drugs and other health care costs.
  • Senior housing may become a consideration as you move further into your retirement years. If you are unable to safely take care of yourself in your own home, for your sake and that of your family, you should examine this option. There is a lot of information available on the internet but a good place to start is with our friends at AARP. They offer a collection of helpful information about retirement communities including state by state listings as well as what to look for before making a move.
  • The health of a spouse may become a factor as the two of you enter old age. You have been through the good times together and have built a mountain of wonderful memories. Now suddenly, half of that perfect couple is physically or mentally impaired and the future looks far different from what you planned. Support from other family members can help but it still comes down to the daily efforts required just to do the little things. Professional support and advice should be considered so you do not feel you are in this alone. A difficult time with no easy answer but you should consider the possibility.

Bottom line, we can continue to fight aging each day and strive for a healthy retirement living and we should. As Ellen Degeneres shared “You have to stay in shape. My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven today, and we don’t know where the hell she is.”

We also need to accept that old age with all of its senior health challenges is the reality. But rather than fear and fight aging, we can instead attempt to embrace this stage in our lives. We are evolving and maturing. In her article “Aging’s Misunderstood Virtues”, Paula Span references Lars Tornstam saying “the mistake we make in middle age is thinking that good aging means continuing to be the way we were at 50. Maybe it’s not. People tell us they are different people at 80. They have new interests, and they have left some things behind.”

Thoreau said “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” Be the person you were meant to be, live the life you want to live, do what you want to do. That is what retirement should be about. To your good health…

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