Tag Archives: Work

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.

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.

The MCC Forecast by Anne Higgins

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Mandala Reflections often visits the holistic experience of well-being as it relates to personal vocation and self-realization in the greater world. Guest blogger and Crew Leader for Montana Conservation Corps, Anne Higgins, is taking what some might call an “alternative” route in the work she does, and yet her and her “job” fit nicely into this larger conversation about vocation and the meaning of life. Mandala Reflections is honored to share her eloquent work, “The MCC Forecast,” adapted from a piece by Douglass Wood. 

The Forecast:

There is a 95% chance that today’s weather will be either too hot, too cold, too sunny, too rainy, or too windy.

From a desktop sign, Quetico Park Visitors Center

In many ways, trail work is an endlessly repeated exercise in various modes of misery, each one a contrast – therefore, a relief, albeit temporary – to the misery preceding it. So there is always the illusion of looking forward to something that will most likely be … another misery.

Trail work could in fact be described as swinging or cutting or chopping or digging until arms ache, back hurts, skin is burned, legs are cramped and muscles twitch.

Finally a break and a chance to bump camp and a chance to stop swinging, chopping, digging and move to a new area. Also a chance to deal with blackflies, deerflies, and various other versions of evil incarnate; a chance to climb up and down hills with loads that would crush a burro, that strain neck, back, and hamstrings and threaten to drive shoulder blades through hips; a chance to wade through mud, muck and other corruption, to climb over and under deadfalls and trip over stuff and to figure that death will probably arrive – mercifully – before this infernal trail reaches sight of an open, sandy grassy campsite. Where of course, the cycle begins again.

The greater goal and end of this particular cycle is the evening camp, that blessed spot of rock and tree kissed by evening breezes and the last slanted rays of the sun. Having found the camp, at whatever stage of exhaustion seems appropriate to the lateness of the hour and the rigors of the day, it is time to set up the tent, gather water, start the stoves, get out the food, cook the food, and …ahhh…eat. And drink. In a warm and happy trance of pure bliss and satisfaction. This lasts… some moments. With the arrival of the evening watch of mosquitoes, the cooking gear is up-gathered and washed; the food repacked; the pack hoisted and hung safe from bears, mini-bears (chipmunks), and micro-bears (mice); personal hygiene is attended to; the tent entered; tent invading mosquitoes dispatched (except for three which are never found); the sleeping bag snuggled into and finally, sleep. The sweet, dark, wonderful nothingness of…Rock. Root. Pinecone. These are the nemeses that will be there, along with the three renegade mosquitoes, all through the night. They will become intimate with back, sides, and stomach, with muscles, bones, and insides – and loom ever larger and sharper and more offensive in the imagination and the anatomy, until dawn cannot come too soon.

And with the arrival of dawn – the pack is lowered (mini-bears found it anyway), breakfast cooked, water filled, camp attended to, and – back to trail work once more.

The Backcast:

So why…why go through it? Why even be here?

The second answer is easy. Because “here” is where the beauty is. Here is where the sunsets are. Here is where the campsites and campfires are, and the clear deep waters, and the wildlife, and the pines, and the mountains. And yes, the storms and the big winds and the downfalls. Here is where the journey is.

But why go through it? Why do I…why do I go through it? I think because no one else can go through it for me. And because the modern city-world system uses people to get work done. Important work, supposedly. That’s the whole idea. That’s why we get paid. But here – here I’m using work … to get myself done. What better work is there than that?

Anne is a Crew Leader for Montana Conservation Corps. Her crew goes out into the Bitterroot National Forest for 8- 10 days at a time, maintaining back country trails. (Anne is much more than her work, and I personally adore her).

A closing quote to bring it back to Mandala Reflections and the greater community:

“Work is one of the most far-reaching mysteries in a human life. Because it is so common and so much a part of everyday life, it’s tempting to consider work only on a literal level–as a way of making a living. Yet…work is what makes life worth living and accounts for meaning and deep satisfaction…If we were to appreciate more fully the connection between work and our general emotional state, we might withdraw our attention from narcissistic preoccupation with self and find the soul at work in the world. Then we might also realize that it isn’t enough to consider work only in relation to personal and individual issues of meaning and emotion, but that work always implicates family, neighborhood, community, nation, and the globe itself. If the soul is to be served adequately, it isn’t sufficient to find meaningful work for the individual; we also have to examine our social, corporate, and political views on work.” -Thomas Moore

Anne, you continue to make your family and community proud of the work you do, and I can’t wait to learn what’s next on your journey. Thank you for sharing your soul with the world.