Suze Orman, an American financial advisor, said on the subject of retirement, “Never do anything you don’t want to do.” I initially thought she was spot-on. Retirement is ideally about saying, “No” to drudgery and, “Yes,” to excitement and satisfaction—activities to help our feet
hit the floor in the morning. On further reflection, I thought what she said was near impossible. Life seldom allows us to avoid everything we don’t like. Everything, nothing, and always are just a few words suggesting extreme and, usually, untrue thought.
I enjoy a variety of activities, but most of them involve something I do not like. For example, to shop, plan, and finish a sewing project is creative work, but to lay out the pattern and hand stitch details are often dreaded. Writing activates my brain, but deciding on a subject and making deadlines are challenging. Vegetables from a garden are fantastic, but planting and weeding? Painting a picture is stimulating, but purchasing supplies, living around the mess, and getting it framed breeds anxiety. Placing each holiday decoration in my home overflows with cozy memories, but taking them down is a drag. Vacations are exciting, but packing, airports, and rental cars wear me out. Volunteering is a feel-good thing, but being bossed around with no salary is not my idea of fun. Yes, most of my favorite activities, and probably yours too, include a lot up—a little down.
We all have different ideas of what an ideal retirement entails, but it is usually common to decrease obligations and ramp up enjoyment. I hear comments such as, “I’m going to travel, read, find hobbies, and enjoy my grandkids.” Those well-deserved dreams, beautiful when
accomplished, can be accompanied by health issues, financial worries, and hard decisions on asset distribution. Unpleasant realities for sure, but even good or great times in life, include a few setbacks. I do not think it is healthy to believe everything would, could, or should be glorious. I think Suze Orman’s quote, “Never do anything you don’t want to do” is a little lofty.
My words of wisdom for life, including retirement, is to choose activities you most enjoy, and then moderate expectations to make the best of what each event offers. It’s like an insurance policy, of sorts; you create high yet realistic goals, and plan for and expect a few losses, to secure your positive mental wellness.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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