Comparison is the Thief of Joy!

image of a disenchanted lady, probably thinking of her comparison to someone else.I came across this great quote in an article I read recently, “comparison is the thief of joy”. Too often we look at others and think ‘man, they have retirement sorted – just check out their updates on Facebook; a great house, strong relationship, busy social calendar, and regular holidays away…” We then turn inwards and a sense of envy develops. We feel our life is nowhere near as exciting and therefore we are lacking.

The challenge is that we never truly know what is going on in another person’s life. What we see and hear is what they choose to share with us. Too many people only share the good news on social media and omit the mundane days, any loneliness, and disagreements. That glamorous lifestyle that we use as the yardstick for retirement success might be all for show and that the sense of inferiority is a creation of our own doing.

As Malcolm Forbes said “too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are”.

Rather than worrying about “keeping up with the Jones’” and what you feel you should be doing in retirement, why not focus on the good things in your own life and take action to bring about the retirement you desire.

Focus on the good things in your life!

You get more of what you pay attention to. Take the example of wanting to buy a new car. They’ve never been on your radar before, but as soon as you decide that you want to buy a yellow Jeep, you start seeing them everywhere on the road, everyone seems to have one! The same goes for the good things in life. Once you start looking for and acknowledging them, be they simple things like a great dinner with friends or big ticket items like that dream holiday, the more positives you will see around you. The trouble is that too often we simply forget to take the time to stop and appreciate them.

Take action!

The other alternative is that other people seem to have a more exciting retirement because they take action towards achieving their dreams. Rather than just reading travel magazines or browsing the web, they book the tickets and go!

How do you want your retirement to be? Is travel is on your to-do list? Sure, first-class round-the-world cruises may not be an option for you, but what is it about travel that lights you up? Perhaps it is visiting new places, meeting new people or trying new foods. Consider how you can incorporate these things into your life on a regular basis. Why not take short trips away to somewhere you haven’t been before (even just a couple of hours from home), try that Argentinean steakhouse you drive past on your way home, or sign up for a photography or salsa class – who knows what you’ll learn and the people you’ll meet.

The beauty about retirement is that there is no rule-book, no one right way to live retirement. Most important is doing what lights you up. If you only worry about what others think or what you believe you are lacking, what are the wonderful things you missing out on in your own retirement?

Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant supports those approaching retirement to successfully transition and create a retirement they will love to live! For more tips, advice and practical resources visit www.megangiles.com.


Curiosity. Key to a retirement you will love to live!

Curiosity. Key to a retirement you will love to live!Curiosity is a wonderful thing. It is what allows us to learn, grow and thrive. Whilst often assumed to belong to the domain of children, curiosity is a valuable characteristic to possess at all stages of life. Particularly as we step into retirement. Put simply, curiosity makes life more fun. It’s great for the brain in that learning new things ensures that our neurons stay healthy. This, in turn, helps to prevent or delay the onset of insidious diseases such as dementia.

Additionally, curiosity is also a positive antidote to anxiety. You may feel fearful about moving to a new town, downsizing your family home, or meeting new people. But when the excitement and anticipation that curiosity inspires outweighs our fear (e.g. the possibilities that life in a small town will afford), anxiety is quelled.

Not only that, but curiosity is fantastic for ensuring retirees develop and maintain strong social connections. People who are interested in others tend to be perceived as interesting themselves. As social beings, we tend to be drawn to people who are interesting and have a sense of energy about them.

“Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness”

– Bryant McGill

How can you inject more curiosity into your days?

   1. Ask questions and be curious about other people.

It never ceases to amaze me how intriguing peoples’ lives are, and that until you ask questions they remain hidden treasures. Over the years I’ve been privileged to learn:

  • the (assumed) stay-at-home mum in fact launched her own successful small business
  • the reclusive neighbour escaped a war-ravaged country leaving his beloved mother behind, and
  • the ex-librarian has run a marathon on every continent.

These are just a snapshot amongst countless other fascinating life stories.

Be brave and ask questions of others – you never know what you may find you have in common, how they may (unexpectedly) inspire you, and how they may become an integral part of your life!

   2. Give it a go!

Rather than assuming that you won’t like a new hobby or club, go along and test it out. Too often I hear retirees grumbling about the ‘silly yogalate-fandangled classes’ or ‘darn cyclists – taking up all of the road’, only to find they haven't even tried it themselves!

You don’t need to sign up for life, and my recommendation is to say ‘yes' to everything once! That particular activity may not be the one for you but at least you will know from first-hand experience! Furthermore, if you’re like me and join a gym class only to find that you are way out of your league (how do you make your body do that?!), the one thing it does provide is an entertaining story to share!

   3. Learning something new

What is that one thing that you muse over and think ‘I’d love to learn that, if only I had time…’. Why not make the time? Join a book club, learn a new language, or learn how to compost. There are fantastic groups and beginner classes both in your community and online. Better yet, keep it really simple. Cook that new recipe, google ‘deepest lakes of the world’, or read a new book.

If you are curious and open to new experiences, you are bound to create the retirement that you will love to live! Who wouldn't want that!

Megan Giles Retirement Transition Consultant supports those approaching retirement to successfully transition and create a retirement they will love to live! For more tips, advice and practical resources visit www.megangiles.com.

To truly rock your life after work, be inspired by the Rock Your Retirement podcast.

A plan for retirement – is it really that important?

Older Executive Woman Contemplating, perhaps about her plan for retirement.One in four people intend to retire in the next ten years, yet few have a plan for retirement which includes the non-financial aspects. As such, they do not have a clear idea of what their life in retirement will look like.

According to a recent survey, 53% of American retirees had done “hardly any” leisure time planning for the next twelve months. Further to that 77% reported they had done no planning for the next five years and 84% had not thought ten years ahead.

I don't have time to plan for retirement!

You’re sick of deadlines, squeezing in gym sessions in your lunch break and doing housework on the weekends. Relaxing and taking it easy is what appeals to you. Without a doubt, a less structured life is one of the great benefits of saying goodbye to the nine-to-five.

You may also be thinking “I barely have time to plan our meals for the week, let alone my life in ten years’ time”. Most likely you know the goals of your kids, grandchildren and elderly parents, but as for your own dreams? You draw a blank …

Rest assured you’re not alone in not having a plan for retirement. But that doesn’t mean that planning is not important. With life expectancy on the increase, most of us can expect a retirement of 20-30 years in relatively good health. That’s another third of your life ahead of you. This is far too long to simply kick back on the recliner and navel gaze.

Without a plan for the social and well-being aspects of life after work, however, there are risks. These include drifting aimlessly, becoming isolated and getting cranky at the world. As such, retirement can become a long, lonely and bleak journey.

“Do one thing today that your future self with thank you for.” – Anonymous

Simple retirement planning action to take today

Creating a plan for retirement does not need to be a difficult or time-consuming activity. A great starting point is to grab a cup of coffee (or wine!), pen and paper, and a cozy spot.

Ask yourself a couple of key questions

  • How do I want to spend my days?
    • What interests and activities light me up (not how do I think I should be spending my days!)?
  • What does my significant other want out of retirement? Are our plans in sync?
  • Who do I want to spend my time with?
    • Who are the people that inspire me (not drain me)?
  • How do I want to be remembered by family, friends and the community around me?
  • Are there any non-negotiables that I need to consider? These might include caring for an elderly parent or living nearby to grandchildren?

What is the value of these few questions, you might ask? A recent client appreciated that she was forced to ponder things that she was trying to avoid. Namely the divergent views on retirement that her husband and she held. One she had her thoughts down on paper, they were then able to have a meaningful conversation. They explored how to build a retirement that was fulfilling to both of them.

Talk with your significant other

Most importantly, recognize that the transition into retirement rarely occurs in isolation to the goings-on around you. Talk with your significant other(s) about your dreams, including the fears and the possibilities. This might be your spouse, partner, family member or friend. Determine how you can support each other and ensure that your goals are in alignment for a retirement that you’ll love to live!

Megan Giles Retirement Transition Consultant supports those approaching retirement to successfully transition and create a retirement they will love to live! For more tips, advice and practical resources visit www.megangiles.com.

To truly rock your life after work, be inspired by the Rock Your Retirement podcast.

Help! My husband has not adapted to retirement well at all

HelpRetirement is supposed to be a wonderful time. You’ve worked hard, saved well and it is finally time to reap the rewards. For some retirement truly is the golden years whereas others struggle to find their feet. Whilst the challenge does not discriminate between genders, the benefit that we have as women is that we are generally more willing to reach out when we need help. We are very much social beings and so if we are feeling lost, we are likely to confide in another and create a plan of action.

Unfortunately the same cannot always be said of men. Be it a product of their generation or otherwise, many Baby Boomer men still feel that they need to maintain a tough exterior. This includes remaining stoic in difficult times and being seen as a provider and effective problem solver. Asking for help is seen as a weakness and so instead they bottle it up.

What might this look like to the people around these men? Most likely they will see a man who was previously driven, defined by his job, and depended upon by many becoming withdrawn, allowing days to pass aimlessly, and perhaps trailing his wife like a shadow with no real interests of his own.

Given the busyness of his role, John hadn’t given much thought to what life after work might look like when he retired. Shortly after John retired, Jane found that they were spending all of their time together, more often than not pursuing her interests rather than any of his. John followed Jane as they shopped, went to the gym and sat on the exercise bike while Jane did a PT class, and would ring to find why she was late if Jane got caught up talking to someone after art class. John was feeling lost and Jane felt overwhelmed. She had no time to herself and felt that she was losing her sense of independence.

What can you do if your partner is struggling to adapt to live in retirement? You might be supportive and patient initially, but this can wear thin over time. As a result, it is far too easy to become frustrated because you can see an obvious path forward but your partner chooses not to take it. Unfortunately, frustration rarely achieves the outcome that you (or your husband) seek.

Instead, try the tips below and work towards creating a retirement that you will both love to live.

Empathise and listen

Empathy is not sympathising or wallowing in the sadness of another, but rather it refers to the ability to recognise emotions in others and walk in their shoes. Don’t assume that you know exactly what’s going on with your partner and the struggles they may be experiencing in adapting to life in retirement. Listen to what they are saying and how they describe their feelings and experiences. For example, you may think that they only want to spend time at home but they may not actually know where to start in terms of reaching out and connecting with new people and groups.

Ask powerful questions

If you are asking your significant other to do something they are likely to resist, avoid closed questions such as ‘well, do you want to go or not’ (particularly when it is articulated in a sharp, clipped tone!). Instead try a powerful question, one that will encourage them to reflect on their own thought pattern and formulate a (small) step forward, such as ‘what needs to be different for you to say yes to…’ or ‘what is the worst that could happen’ followed by ‘what do we need to ensure that doesn’t happen. By using powerful questions you are not only inviting your partner to address any hesitance they are feeling but by using the pronoun ‘we’ you are showing that they are not alone in their struggle.

Encourage them to get active

Physical activity is not only good for the body but it is critical for one’s sense of well-being also. It boosts mood, alertness and even one’s ability to look on the bright side of life. Couple that with the incidental interaction one gains through exercise and it is particularly effective in creating a sense of positivity in retirement. For example, your partner may bump into neighbours and have a quick conversation whilst walking, chat to the attendant as they pay the swimming pool fee or debate the durability of components in the cycle shop. You never know where these unplanned conversations may lead in terms of engaging with the people and community around them.

Be patient

And finally, show patience as everyone adjusts to retirement differently. Some will take longer to figure out how they enjoy spending their time and what provides a sense of purpose.  Let your significant other know that it is okay to experience a down period, and in fact, this is completely normal part of the transition, but that small steps forward are critical to creating a fulfilling and meaningful retirement.

Megan Giles Retirement Transition Consultant supports those approaching retirement to successfully transition and create a retirement they will love to live! For more tips, advice and practical resources visit www.megangiles.com.

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