retired life new year’s resolutions


Retired-Life New Year’s Suggestion

We’ve made it to the end of one year and about to set sail into a new one. We should look to this new year with enthusiasm and a positive attitude. While it’s great to have memories of our past, it’s better yet to have aspirations, goals, and dreams for the future. Rather than making new year’s resolutions, I suggest everyone  take a moment and write down three things they would like to accomplish this year. Get crazy. Is there someone you would like to meet, contact, or reconnect with. Is there some place you would like to visit, far away or close by. Is there a goal you didn’t achieve long ago? Get out there and do it. Do you have lots of “stuff” taking up space somewhere? Simplify your life and give it to someone who can use it. It might change their life and will make you feel great.  

There are no wrong answers here. These things don’t have to be philanthropic in nature. Do something great and fun for you. Is there a performer you’ve always wanted to see or meet. Is there an event you’ve always wanted to attend. As they say at Nike, “Just do it! Of course, there are always a million reasons not to do something. But this is not the dress rehearsal, it’s your life. Let me know what you decided to do in 2012. Happy New Year.   

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Now that 2011 is here, most of us have made our new year’s resolutions. The top ten most popular resolutions, as gathered by goalsguy.com from over 300,000 respondants, are as follows:

1. Lose weight and get in better physical shape.

2. Stick to a budget.

3. Debt reduction.

4. Enjoy more quality time with family and friends.

5. Find my soul mate.

6. Quit smoking.

7. Find a better job.

8. Learn something new.

9. Volunteer and help others.

10. Get organized. 

Not many surprises, although I’m disappointed that examining and reaffirming one’s spiritual life did not make the list. A sign of the times I suppose.

Since this blog is primarily dedicated to retired life, let’s look at this list from that perspective. Losing weight and getting in better shape is obviously important for everyone as we get older. I’ve often written about the “30 minute rule” for people of retirement age. Getting 30 minutes of aerobic exercise has tremendous health and longevity benefits and should be at or near the top of every retired person’s list. Clearly, if you smoke, do anything and everything you can to quit. Today! When my father retired, he smoked and at least one doctor predicted he would not live one more month. He quit that day and lived for another 25 years.

Obviously, at retirement age, reducing our personal debt and sticking to a budget is extremely important. If we haven’t learned that lesson by the time we’ve retired, time may have run out. Surprisingly, it seems as though a great number of retired folks do not have a complete picture of their financial situation. Unless a retired person has an unlimited amount of money, he or she needs to be very mindful of where their money goes each month and how long that money will last. Key question for retirees: How long will your money last? Experts tell us to get a handle on our finances and budget accordingly. Personally, I’ve been very poor in my life (I’m talking not one cent in my pocket poor) and I’ve been in pretty good financial shape. I’ve never ever had the inclination to spend more money than I could afford to spend. My wife Trisha always laughs when I say I’m going to cut my clothing budget 20% this year. I think my clothes are just fine, but I’ll never be accused of being a “clothes horse.” I grew up in a household that had absolutely no pretension and that has always served me well.

If retired, you probably are not looking for another job. In this economy, however, more people than ever are working much longer. If that’s the case, try within your power to make it something you enjoy. This is your life and not a dress rehearsal. If your financial situation allows you to volunteer, by all means do so. It’s a noble and rewarding activity.  As far as finding a soul mate, I’m sure my wife would frown on it. Just kidding. The truth is, if your circumstances find you retired and alone, make a resolution to fill your life with people. That means spending more time with family and/or friends. If it means finding a special person, go for it. As we grow older, becoming more social is actually quite important. Research tells us retired people who are more social are healthier and happier than those who live in isolation.

When Trisha and I wrote our book about retired life, we went into great detail about getting organized. It’s an ongoing effort, but has special importance for retired folks. Every aspect of our lives needs to be organized and documented. When the time comes, our families will be so grateful we took the time to put our personal affairs in order. (Let me point out there are forms on our website www.TheBestofOurLives.com that can be very beneficial in this process. They are interactive, printable, and best of all FREE) 

For all of us “old dogs,” learning something new is also something to be recommended. Maybe it’s actually something you have gotten away from over the years. I’m always trying to brush up on my Spanish or pulling out my guitar for a song or two. Whether it’s something old or new, we need to take the  time to challenge ourselves and have fun. Our minds and spirits need to be fed as much as our bodies need nurishment. In this day and age of 24 hour news cycles and constant crises, it’s mandatory. Much like most of you, I often get email forwards with all kinds of information. Much of it is serious, often political “the sky is falling” stuff. Fortunately, much of it is interesting and/or downright funny. Guess which one I open most frequently. 

O.K., there you have it. Let’s review our Retired Life New Year’s Resolutions:

Get in shape (and if you smoke, quit)

Get an accurate and complete picture of your finances and budget to live within your means.

Become more social (family, friends, volunteer)

Get yourself organized and your affairs in order

Learn something new and spice up your life

Let me add:

Examining and exploring your spiritual life (I’m not comfortable preaching to people, but I’m less comfortable leaving it off my list)

And finally, because I actually try very hard to put into action the things I write about, I have my own personal list of resolutions. Beyond continuing to work on the previous items mentioned, my personal resolutions this year include:

Giving away everything I have stored to someone who can use it

Working with injured veterans

Taking my wife and mother on a great travel adventure

Best of luck on your resolutions.

Happy 2011 Everyone!