Category Archives: Inspiring Words

Have you planned for a healthy retirement?

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Today’s blog post comes from Jay Higgins. He is a financial adviser and an expert in the field. I asked him to write us an article about financial wellness. I’ll be honest I was a little worried it would be littered with industry jargon and boring financial talk. Boy was I wrong. Read on for fresh insight on how to view your retirement. I know you will gain some perspective on an important topic many of us fail to address.

I’d like to tell you a little secret. Now that you know who I am, it may surprise you. I don’t think you should retire. There, I said it.

That statement might come as a shock spoken from a person in the business of retirement planning. Please stay with me, however, and let me clarify what I mean.

What I am not advocating to you is working a grueling American schedule until you collapse on the job. I also am in no way trying to cheapen the importance of carefully planning for the post accumulation (industry term) or retirement phase of your life. So what do I really mean when I say you shouldn’t “retire”?

For many of you retirement is a long way off and probably nowhere near the front of your mind.  For a few of you, you may have given it some real thought, and good for you. But for most of you, let me guess the image in your head of your retirement.

RetirementOn your last day of work you plan to fill up your box, leave your job, and board a plane for Mexico, Arizona, or Florida so you can bask in the sun and enjoy time relaxing. Clearly there are many versions of this story but most of them have one thing in common. They fail to look past the first few weeks of your retirement.

What are you going to do after your vacation or your month relaxing in the sun ends? A normal retirement for our generation is 30 years. That means you have roughly 1,600 weeks of unplanned time on your hands. Not only is this a problem it’s probably not healthy.

Taking a step back, the idea of retirement that society depicts for us is completely unnatural for humans and generally doesn’t promote good health or vibrancy in our golden years. The law of diminishing returns applies to leisure activities as well, meaning golf and vacations eventually lose their luster. Boredom or being idle at this stage in your life will ultimately lead to poor health and overall dissatisfaction.

One writer put it this way, “The quickest way to disease, is a life of ease”.

So, now that you know the potential pitfalls that you may face in retirement, how do you rectify the situation? Glad you asked. There are two main things that I believe you can do to create a “retirement” that is full of vitality for you.

Consider these two things and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy retirement.

  1. Incorporate work into your plan. Human beings need a reason to wake up every morning. What will be your reason to get out of bed? Work as defined here is a loose term and may not mean getting paid, but responsibilities and action towards a greater purpose are important to your well-being. Paid work can be even better because of the potential for strengthening retirement income. The last few years in any retirement account are where the majority of your growth will come (from compounding). Retiring cold turkey forces you to draw an income off your account, essentially slitting the throat of your account right when it’s about to do the largest amount of work for you. Does this sound like a good idea?
  2. Redefine your retirement. Every single person has the same amount of hours to spend each week in retirement, 168. Knowing how you will spend yours will greatly improve your chances of being happy with your life. No two people are the same and the allocation of your time is uniquely your own. Rather than defining your retirement hours, work on defining your ideal life. Does that mean working fewer hours, spending some of that extra time fishing, crafting, or reading? Maybe you like to travel or want spend more time with family. Once you know how you would like to live its only a matter of developing a plan to allow you to do it. Yes that will probably mean saving and planning but those are only means to and end. Saving enough money is not the end goal. Then end goal is living and protecting the lifestyle that is healthy and meaningful to you.

Overall this post is not meant to scare you or to make you ignore your retirement. By explaining how the picture we’ve been given regarding retirement is a dangerous myth, my hope is to liberate and empower you.  I would like for you to think outside the box when you address your retirement and be confident that you know what will make you happy.

Believe me, working towards a lifestyle that is specifically designed for you by you will make the planning process surrounding your retirement much easier to prioritize. Throwing money at a retirement account without a clear goal is like throwing a dart at a target you can’t see. You’ll probably miss the mark, and many of you wouldn’t even try. Having a clear vision brings the dartboard into view…and then proper planning will help you hit the bullseye.

Be the change

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Most of us have heard the quote “be the change you wish to see in the world.” We get it, right? Or do we?

Have you actually stopped your busy life and really thought about what it means? I don’t think I really got- got it until today, when I heard a story. Because the story moved me, I wanted to share it with you. Maybe some of you have already heard it. Either way it’s definitely a nice, short, and “sweet” tale to keep handy.
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A mother from India was very worried about her overweight son’s addiction to sweets. No matter what she did, she could not keep him away from sugary treats. Running out of ideas and absolutely desperate, she decided to bring her son to the well-respected, Mahatma Gandhi. Because Gandhi was so well-known and wise, she thought if only she could get Gandhi to tell her son to stop eating sweets, maybe then, her son would listen.

So mother and son made the trip and waited in line and waited some more. When it was their turn, the mother explained her son’s story to Gandhi. She then asked him to please tell her son to stop eating sweets as they were harming his health. She knew that her son would stop if Gandhi said so. Gandhi listened to her request and thanked the woman and son for coming. He then said, “Please come back in a week.”

The mother didn’t understand but left with her son. She was at least pleased that Gandhi agreed to see them again. After a week passed, she and her son made the trip again. They waited in line. The second time, not so patiently.

Once they could see Gandhi, the mother’s worries went away and hope filled her heart. As they approached him, he remembered them right away and thanked them for coming back. He then said firmly to the little boy, “Son, you must cease eating sweets.” The boy nodded, and the mother had a confused look on her face.

She asked, “Why, sir, did you ask us to come back a week later? Why couldn’t you tell him that last week?” 

Gandhi replied, “Because dear miss, I did not know if I, myself, could accomplish what you asked me to ask your son. I needed a week to try it myself before I could say anything. For if I could not do the task myself, how could I ask him to do it? We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

*  *  *

This story is a great reminder for all of us in our work and in our lives, especially those of us who are in positions related to well-being. Discipline and knowledge can be communicated most effectively through messengers who practice what they pass along. We all know this. We see it in our everyday lives. Most of us can spot the teacher who is the fake, and we all feel beauty and grace in the presence of someone who is doing the work.

As I begin my wellness coach training and will soon be coaching people for a living* (I already have 21 people signed up for the month of March!), there is no better time than now to recommit myself to being the change I wish to see in the world. Lately, my own readiness to follow the principles I believe in is apparent, and I am doing it. While discomfort sometimes arises with that reality, I have made the choice to not step down, and I am starting to feel the health benefits that occur from not turning away from the hard stuff.

The most effective way we can help others around us is truly to model the behavior we wish to see. Thank you Mahatma Gandhi for this lesson. I am deeply humbled and nervous and excited all at the same time to embark on such a journey in my own life.

To those reading, I hope that you, too, can create moments in your life where you feel like you can embody your vision of well-being and make your life principles into a reality.

Or if anything else, next time you want to ask someone to do something, take a minute to stop and think if you, yourself, are able to do it.

*First, wellness coaching has little to do with telling people what to do. Second, I do not necessarily believe that Mahatma telling the boy to stop eating sweets would do the boy any good, in reality. However, I do greatly appreciate the wisdom that Gandhi highlights with the importance of “practicing what you preach.”

What if money was no object?

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Need some direction in your life vocation, life work?

Here is a nice video to wake up to on a Friday, the day before the day many people retreat to their “real lives.”  Alan Watts asks the right questions that get you to examine your motives and your desires. What if money was no object? What do you desire?

For more of Alan’s juicy insights check out his website or visit Youtube for an array of other philosophical and inspirational clips.