Posts that detail what retired folks do with their time each day are among the most popular on this blog. Some continue to generate hundreds of views. Even for those who have been retired for quite some time, finding out what others do is interesting and sometimes inspirational, or maybe we are just a bit nosey.
This time around, I want to take a different approach: here is a short list of six things I do not do as part of my daily routine.
1) Check my financial investments and the stock market daily. I can’t think of a quicker way to drive myself crazy than watching the constant gyrations of the financial markets. There are folks who do that for a living. I use one of them to watch my money and let her try to make sense of a rather confusing system to protect me and my family’s long-term future. To my untrained eye, everything seems to run on emotion, rumor, or events in a place so distant I am lucky to find it on a map. What looks like good news to me sends the Dow Jones into a tailspin.
Once a month I add the various totals from my accounts to a spreadsheet. Even then, if there has been a drop I don’t panic and place a call to the advisor. Over the past three or fourth months of downward dips, I have asked my advisor if everything is where I want it to be. After a discussion, I settle back down. Even during the nasty times of 2008-2010, I didn’t sell much or worry. I trusted the long-term strength of the economy and her skills. It has paid off.
2) Regret something I did years ago. What would be the point? I can’t change it, I can’t relive it and do something differently. To regret it in a way that it remains bouncing around in my mind on a regular basis doesn’t happen. I try to fix whatever happened as I move forward and learn from that bad choice to avoid making it again.
3) (Sort of) Forget that the clock is ticking. I turned 73 a few months ago. I am not a spring chicken. According to the life expectancy for the year I was born, 69 years on earth was what I should expect. Now that I passed that, that same chart gives me another 12 years. Based on my family history and my overall health I plan on beating that. After all, 85 seems right around the corner!
Even so, nearly 85% of my life is in the rearview mirror. It is my absolute intention to make that last 15% full of happiness, productivity, and doing things beneficial to others. We hear that life goes by so quickly. Yes, it does. I hear that clock ticking but I am not allowing it to terrify me or hold me back.
4) Take my important relationships for granted. My wife, Betty, and I just celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary. That is just as hard to grasp as having the majority of my life behind me. She has been part of my life, a part of me for so long, that my years before her almost don’t seem real. We complete each other in ways that are too numerous to list. We help each other grow and change in positive ways, ways that would be impossible without each other.
My grown daughters have developed into tremendous adults. Each is comfortable in her own skin. Each has built a life that is satisfying for them. Having them close by is a blessing that shows itself every day. Adding grandkids to the mix is almost too much good news.
5) Believe I can have a chili dog and onion rings for lunch and not pay a price. See point #3 above! What I eat, how I use my body, and the attention I pay to what it is telling me is mostly within my control. Shame on me if I trade my future for instant gratification today. My cardiac episode of almost seven years ago was a powerful reminder.
6) Allow my mind to stagnate. To stop learning new things, to stop listening to new music, to stop having conversations with people I disagree with, to stop engaging in the world, is to stop living. Frankly, it is easier at our age to let our thinking sort of calcify, to harden around what we know, to stick with what makes us happy and comfortable. It is hard work to push back against a mind that wants to just rest. It is also the way to slowly fade away.
I can’t imagine a time without my attempts at painting, playing the guitar, working on this blog, enjoying the time spent reading, and working as a volunteer at the library. They add joy and sparkle to my day. My mind may fail me at some point, but until then I am not simply waiting for it to happen.
There are six things I try not to do as part of my satisfying retirement if I can help it. Just so you know, I fail to live up to one or more of these points more often than I’d like to admit, even in a blog.