Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Do You Deserve an "F" in Retirement?

          I have failed to live up to the basic standards for retirement living.

          There is a well-marketed attitude that we should feel “less than” if we don’t pursue something productive every day….and yet, isn’t the definition of retirement exactly to feel okay about kicking back more often than not and enjoying the little things or the nothingness of a luxuriously loaming afternoon with a expansive blank agenda?

          Who sets these standards for us? “They” do, that’s who. You know, it’s the proverbial “they” that set the guidelines for a lot of what we say, do, buy, feel and express. I hate to admit it, but I am often gullible enough to accept what “they” say.  For example, I feel proud when described as “She’s busier now that she ever  was before retirement.” I wear this comment like a badge of creative and life-fulfilling honor. I’m no goof off, no slacker retiree who is relaxed, mellow and contented! Say what?????

          When people ask you how you are, do you respond rapid fire with a litany of all that you are doing in your busy weeks? A friend of mine would do this all the time but, once when I asked her again, more seriously, “Yeah, but how are you REALLY doing?” she’d almost burst into tears. She hadn't slowed down long enough to feel much of anything.

          Is your schedule always filled but your life isn’t fulfilling? Perhaps, like me, you’re buying into what “they” say we should be doing during retirement. To get a better handle on how my retirement is going I looked at the following seven benchmarks:

1)      Do I wake with enthusiasm, eager to enjoy what
             the day has to offer?

2)      Is there enough white space on my monthly calendar
             to make room for some serious goof-off time?

3)      Do I feel fulfilled for the most part with friendships
             and family fellowship?

4)      Do acquaintances feel I’m available for a spur-of-the-
             moment coffee date?

5)      Do I spend the majority of my time talking about positive
             things in life rather than the aches and pains, the
             weather or the economy?

6)      Do I feel like I'm living my  life based on what I want to
             do rather than what others expect me to be doing?

7)       At the end of the day, do I feel  okay about
              myself even if I don’t have something
              tangible to show for my day, like piles
              of clean laundry, pages of written text
              or a garden free of weeds?

          If I can answer “yes” to a majority of these, I’m on the right track in my retirement.  Hey, don’t get me wrong. I can feel like a real slug that has nothing to show for my time if I spend the entire day reading – even if it’s for research. I’m not always doing the best at retirement, but I keep trying to keep things in balance.
          I believe the best way to determine if you’re doing retirement right is to ask yourself if you are living a meaningful life. If the answer is “yes,” like it is for me most of the time, that’s all we can ask for. Like everything else, it’s a process.

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