We spend our lives trying to accomplish things. We study in school to get good grades so we can accomplish academic goals. We work hard at our jobs so we can accomplish career success. We make plans, save money, and invest so we can accomplish financial security. We encourage our children to carry out their goals and dreams. Our lives are centered around accomplishments. Goals and plans make up the blueprint of our lives and we are proud of those results. We have direction in life because there is always something on the horizon to accomplish. We are busy. Sometimes too busy.
But these days, the only thing on my horizon is a sunset.
We are recently retired and are fortunate to be doing so in a tropical paradise. There are few requirements for retirement in the Florida Keys. Actually, there are few requirements in the Keys, period. Accomplishing a goal or meeting a life plan isn’t one of them. After all, it’s simply island life if you’re not working. There are some days – some weeks – where I am busy. We joke that we don’t understand how we had time to work! We travel between children, help them move, tend to family matters, and have business ventures that need attention. Sometimes it’s simpler though. Some days are busy with cleaning, house, or boat maintenance, cooking, and going to yoga. I shop for groceries, serve on my HOA Board, and visit with friends. Then there are days when I get NOTHING done. Purposely. Really – I do nothing. I sleep until I want to get up. I drink my coffee, read the paper, check my emails, and surf the internet. I eat breakfast late (which incidentally is my favorite time to eat breakfast) and then I relax in the pool or read under the tiki. Add the “Keys Disease” chill factor and I may skip lunch and end up at Happy Hour. I accomplish nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada.
See the problem? (This is where you say “no… not really…”) My entire self-worth up to this point in my life rested on accomplishing something. This is now a flawed system and a horrible evaluation of my value. Things have to change!
However, I’m pretty content and we worked really hard to get to this point in life. So what should change? I’ve decided I should change how I look at things. I should change my perspective. So I’ve come up with a new system to decide how I’m doing in life. It goes something like this:
Did I wake up today? If so, this day rocks! I score extra points if I’m still waking up to the guy I want to spend my life with. What a fabulous start to the day! (Sounds silly? It’s really just an exercise in thankfulness!)
Now that I’ve established that my husband and I are alright, are my children doing well? They are still in the accomplishments stage, so we check in with them about school, jobs, and personal goals. And as their mom, I get a certain % credit for their accomplishments. Big points here! (Don’t judge me – we all live vicariously through our kids one way or another!)
Each day should have at least one activity that I enjoy in it. Most days I rock this one. After all, I’m retired and am able to do what I want! It is simple – reading a good book, going for a boat ride, or going for a swim. It might be baking something. (I love to bake!) Oh – and extra points if my husband and I enjoy doing something together. That always makes it more fun.
I must exercise each day. I want to live a long, healthy life and be active. To do this I need to stay active. I’ve never been an athlete (yes, I’m an old high school cheerleader) and I’m a little fluffy around the edges, so we’re not training for the Olympics here. 30-45 minutes of brisk walking, kayaking, paddle boarding, or yoga all count. Sometimes cleaning counts. I wear a Fitbit that I love and hate at the same time, but most days it keeps me accountable. Some days it just embarrasses me. (Why in the world did I let my son and husband talk me into being on their competitive “friends” list on Fitbit?! Argh.)
Each day has to have an it’s-not-about-me moment. It might be a short note to a friend or a phone call that’s overdue. Phone calls are a shortcoming of mine. I simply don’t reach out enough. I am working on that. Anyway, it could be anything. It might be caramel brownies – they are sooooo good – for a neighbor or just telling someone they are important to me – loved by me. It isn’t anything monumental. I just don’t want to be that old grouchy retiree who loses their filter and talks and thinks only of themselves. (Don’t tell me you don’t know one of these folks!) Once we are a little more settled into retirement, I will resume my volunteer and community work. For now, I’m taking baby steps into my new life.
This plan just might work for me. I am feeling better about myself already.
I am not sure if we will stay on our rock forever. Can we really be on vacation indefinitely? I am enjoying this honeymoon phase of our retirement. Really enjoying it. There will be other considerations down the road. Healthcare and proximity to children (and one day, grandchildren) are important to us. We will figure things out.
In the meantime, I’ll be under the tiki.
What do you use to measure your “daily retirement success” on your rock?