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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.