If We’d Only Known Then…

Last night we were at dinner at a local chain restaurant and overheard (um…eavesdropped upon) some young people discussing their desires for the future, and about how it would be so difficult to obtain those desires.

We’ve been journeying on the Encore Voyage for over six years now, and so many times have found ourselves saying

“If only we’d have known then what we know now!”

Not that we’ve got this retirement gig completely figured out, but there are so many things we’ve learned since we retired that would have made our pre-retirement lives so much richer!  Here are my top ten:

  1. Practice mindfulness – We both rushed through 30+ year careers, and while we’ve had a lot of fun times, I wish now that I’d paid more attention. I wish I’d have spent more time breathing deeply and relishing those special moments.  We never get them again.
  2. Become an Automatic Millionaire – This book, by David Bach, is a game changer. The takeaway is simple.  Use an automatic, direct deposit of some amount of money to an investment account WITH EVERY PAYCHECK.  Pay yourself first.  Use the power of compound interest to make you wealthy.  For those who believe they don’t make enough money to save – baloney.  You will never miss it, and believe me, you’ll just buy one or two fewer beverages at Starbucks.
  3. Pay attention to how much junk you’re accumulating – We have neighbors whose garages are stuffed full! My brother-in-law spent half a year going through a deceased parent’s lifetime accumulations!  All those things you are buying or saving now may end up in boxes in the future.  Do you really need them?
  4. Life is about collecting experiences, not stuff – See number 3 above, then mentally calculate the monetary value of the “stuff” you’ve accumulated. Now translate that value into how many plane tickets you could have bought! How many hours of your life did it take you to earn that “thing?” What experiences could you have had, given that same amount of cash?
  5. Take care of your relationships – It is the people in your life who make you whole – Not the work you do, the house you live in or the car you drive. At the end of the day, the people are the ONLY ones who will matter.
  6. Learn to say NO – During my working career I filled every minute of every day. I wish now that I had understood the value of not being so busy.  I wish I had learned to spend my time on what is important, rather than on what was urgent.
  7. Quit responding to negativity – It has taken me many years to learn to turn off the news; to stop allowing negative media, social or otherwise, to infiltrate my life; to stop listening to the negative blather of people judging others. It may seem a bit Pollyanna, but the same is true on a more personal level.  Do you engage only with people who lift you up, or do you spend time with those who bring you down.  Are you a positive influence in the lives of others?  The less you engage in negativity, the more peaceful your life becomes.
  8. Pay attention to your passions – What are the activities you truly love? Are there things you always wish you could do; things you’ve always wanted to try? What gives you a warm glow inside? It’s good to know what will bring you joy when that time comes when career is no longer the priority.
  9. You are responsible for your own happiness. Miserable people focus on the things they hate about their lives. Happy people focus on the things they love about their lives. The choice is a conscious one.  The power of gratitude is very real. I have realized now as I look back that I spent a great deal of time worrying about things that didn’t really matter.
  10. Character counts – Tell one lie and all your truths become questionable.  Do something that is ethically or morally questionable and people will forever question your motives.  At the end of the day, your character truly is your honor.  Take care of it and it will serve you well into your retirement years.

This is a short list of ideas we wish we had known.  I’m sure my fellow Voyagers could add plenty more.  I’ll be interested to hear.

Lynn

36 thoughts on “If We’d Only Known Then…

  1. Leah

    Oh, yes, great advice. Wish I knew all that, too! I just forwarded it to my son and daughter-in-law who’ve recently married. Since the advice is not coming from me perhaps they’ll take notice.

    Enjoying your posts!

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  2. Eda

    God advice, not just for retirees but for life in general. I just recently learned the difference between a positive attitude and a calm mind. The first is exhausting. The second goes with your mindfulness.

    I would add not blaming other people, especially those close to you.

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      That’s a great addition, Eda! Along with being responsible for your own happiness, I would agree that we are each responsible for every decision we make! Every. single. one. No one else is responsible for your life. Or as my daddy used to say, “Ain’t nobody owes you a living!” ~ Lynn

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  3. patwdoyle11

    Lynn, I’m still learning some of these! What is my passion? Practice positivity! Be mindful. Invest in friendship. Be active & eat healthy. I sometimes do wonder where I would be mentally & physically if I had been doing all this all my life!

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      That’s so true, Pat! What started me thinking about the whole topic was YOGA! If I had known about yoga back when I was a stressed out mess, my life might have been so much more relaxed! If only I’d have known… Keep learning, my friend! ~ Lynn

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      1. patwdoyle11

        I had a friend tell me I should try yoga for 7 years before I was retired. I think we might have been told some of these elements, but didn’t really hear them. Now we are ready to hear/learn them. I did a yoga on the beach yesterday morning…. just wow.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Donna Cameron

    This is a great list, Lynn, and while I may wish I had learned these things earlier, perhaps they are only really learned and understood through experience. What’s sad is that a great many people never learn them. This would make a great article for a print or online magazine if you were so inclined….

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      I think you may be right, Donna – it seems that since we started the Voyage, I’ve become so much aware of each of these things! As for the publishing part, I’m pretty new to this gig, and would have no idea how to make that happen! Suggestions? ~ Lynn

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      1. Donna Cameron

        Well, it’s the sort of article I’ve see in magazines like Real Simple and AARP’s magazine, or any of the so-called women’s magazines. If you go on their websites, you can usually find submission guidelines … or even google the magazine’s name and “submission guidelines.” I’ve been told that magazines love listicles (articles that are numbered lists, like “10 ways to do xx,” or “7 sensational new xyzs.” It’s worth a try!

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  5. Shallow Reflections

    This is great advice, Lynn. I recently said ‘yes’ and rejoined a choral group I had been a member of in the past. A few weeks into it, I realized I wasn’t enjoying it. As hard as it was to quit, I did it, telling myself that life is too short to fill it with things that aren’t working for me. I’m so relieved! I don’t want to be as busy in my semi-retirement as I was in my full time working career. Finding time to breathe, be mindful (although that is something one can do anytime), and focus on my passions make me happier. Oh yes, and turning off the news, too!

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  6. Liesbet @ Roaming About

    Insightful reflections and good advice, Lynn! The good thing is that you have realized all these points before it is really too late!

    Most of them I have been able to address, already from a young age. Not sure why. Experience and trying to be different, I guess. We all still have work to do and I need to improve on numbers 6,7 and 9. I need to say “no” more often, as I have enough projects of myself to focus on. I have cut out the news and outside influences that overwhelm me with negativity, but when it comes to people closer to me, this is tougher. Depending on the period of your life and what is going on (and is the main focus), this is hard to do either. Working on it!

    I think everyone should realize that every day is precious, and make the best of those days, the present and the future. Don’t dwell on the past, act now and live the life you enjoy.

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Oh I agree with how difficult it is when people closest to you are negative. I have a few of those myself. I’ve found that I typically try to change the subject to something with a more positive spin, or at least I just listen without response (no sense in reinforcing that stuff.) But when it gets to be too much, I remind myself that I get to choose with whom I spend my time! Keep being awesome! ~ Lynn

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  7. Retirement Reflections

    Hi, Lynn – This is an A+ List!! I went through it trying to find my favorite piece of advice. The problem was that all tips were so spot-on that I couldn’t choose just one (or even just two). Well done!

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    1. Encore Voyage Post author

      Thanks so much, Donna! Don’t you find that in retirement there is just so much awesomeness that you wish you’d had it years ago? That’s sort of what I was thinking as I wrote the list. Thanks again ~ Lynn

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