Six Pillars of Retirement Lifestyle
I've been doing the Rock Your Retirement show since April 2016. I knew when I started the show that I wanted it to be about Retirement Lifestyle. I've been thinking about retirement myself and wanted to bring my listeners along my journey by interviewing people who have something to say that relates to this retirement lifestyle or Baby Boomer Lifestyle topic.
My husband is 20 years older than myself, so of course, we are in different stages of life. But I wanted to be able to spend more time sharing experiences now, while he's still able to enjoy them. I was scared.
What would I do with myself?
I'm only 52 as I write this, and I am used to the hustle and bustle of working. And honestly, I don't have to work. The thing is, I enjoy it. I've been self-employed for the majority of my life, and enjoy the structure of working. I don't enjoy a “boss” telling me what to do. In fact, a two year period I tried leaving my business and working for someone else. I failed miserably.
The good news is that I hadn't left my business completely, and when I came back it was there, along with my clients who hadn't left in my absence. Of course, I was never really 100% gone.
Now I'm busy because although I did semi-retire from that business, giving up my license to sell securities, I still have about 30 beloved clients that I work with. I don't know if I'll ever give that up. As long as those clients want to work with me, I'll continue holding their hands through their financial retirement.
But I wasn't satisfied with just helping those 30, although I didn't want to take on any more clients in that industry. So I started a new project.
That project was supposed to just keep me busy between October and December of every year, but it's really turned into more of a full-time job. I DO enjoy it. But I wish I could afford more help so that it didn't feel like a job to me. It doesn't pay as well as my old business because it's new.
So why do I do it?
That's a good question. We don't need the money. I've done plan after plan for my husband and I, and the numbers always work out the same. We are fine.
Even when the stock market drops… we are still fine.
I think the reason why I keep doing it is that it fills a need in me, so as long as it does this, I'll keep going. Occasionally I think about just saying, “That's it, I'm done!” and just put my business on autopilot and walk away. But it's usually after a particularly difficult situation that was brought on by the client. I don't get many of them because I seem to attract really great clients, but every now and then, someone enters my life that I'd rather not deal with. Often I refer them to work with someone else, but sometimes it takes a while for them to leave, and they cause stress for my staff and me.
So what is it?
I've been thinking of this over time. I think it's because there are six pillars of retirement lifestyle, baby boomer lifestyle really, and work for me is one of those pillars. Sometimes we have a “pillar” that might be out of whack, and for me, I think it's work. My work pillar has been taking up more space, and I'd like to work on the other five pillars.
What are the Six Pillars of Retirement Lifestyle?
Whether you consider yourself an atheist, a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or whatever, I believe that you have a spirit. A soul. Something that makes you different from the person sitting next to you.
There is an essence that is you. You are connected to others through this essence. I happen to believe in God and Jesus and every day I try to live in a way that is congruent to the way I believe.
When we act differently from what we say we believe, we run into trouble. My goal is not to convert you here, but to help you understand why you need to consider the spiritual side of you. For me, that means attending my church and working on my crap. I know that I'm not perfect, by anyone's standards, but I try to move towards that just a tiny bit each day. And it's the striving that brings me closer to God.
For you, it might mean meditating instead of praying. For you, it might mean reading your honored book and trying to understand it. For you, it might mean communing with nature. Clearing your mind of the stuff that clutters it.
But everyone has a spiritual side, and if you expand it, you will have a greater likelihood of thriving.
If you act differently from your beliefs, you will find that your stress level has gone up and I believe that stress can cause illness.
So yes, I believe that the spiritual side of you shouldn't be ignored in retirement.
I understand that not everyone is in a relationship. I happen to be married. Most, but not all, people I know would prefer to be in a 1:1 relationship with someone. We are designed, programmed, genetically to be in a relationship.
Being married (Waite 1995), having children (Denney 2010), and ties to religious organizations (Musick, House, and Williams 2004) have all been linked to positive health behaviors.
Being in a good marriage can also improve our health.
The quality of our relationships matters. For example, one study found that midlife women who were in highly satisfying marriages and marital-type relationships had a lower risk for cardiovascular disease compared with those in less satisfying marriages.
Studies have also shown that being in a committed relationship can help you live longer.
Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones research calculates that committing to a life partner can add 3 years to life expectancy (Researchers Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler have found that men’s life expectancy benefits from marriage more than women’s do.)
So learning how to either keep that relationship strong or find a nurture a relationship if we don't have one is also an integral part of the retirement lifestyle.
If we are in a relationship, it might change after we retire. We have to understand that, and work toward being flexible and understanding of that, while also learning how to speak up for our needs that have changed, or aren't being met.
One Psychologist developed a model that shows whether you will divorce during the “empty nest” syndrome that so many of us enter when our kids leave for college.
John Gottman, a psychologist emeritus at the University of Washington, developed a model to predict which newlywed couples will remain married and which will divorce, a method that he claims is 90 percent accurate. He found that most divorces happen at critical points after a couple unites. The first period occurs after seven years, when pairs tend to feel the strain of their relationship (does the Seven Year Itch ring a bell?). After 20 years, couples may encounter “empty nest syndrome”—a lonely feeling that can take over when children leave home, causing a rift in the marital bond.
If we don't have a relationship and want one, we have to understand that finding a relationship when we are older isn't the same as finding one when we were in our 20s, 30s, or even 40s. It's different. WE are different.
Along the lines of Significant Other, it's also important to have friendships. When we are working, many times we form friendships that involve our work relationships. After all, we are with these people for the majority of our waking day. When we retire, often our work friends are still working, so they can't just take off time to have coffee or see a movie in the middle of the day.
And just like having a strong marriage can affect your health, so can having friendships.
One study, which examined data from more than 309,000 people, found that lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50% — an effect on mortality risk roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and greater than obesity and physical inactivity.
Another study showed that we can handle stress a lot easier when we have strong relationships.
In a study of over 100 people, researchers found that people who completed a stressful task experienced a faster recovery when they were reminded of people with whom they had strong relationships.
We know that we need friends, but how do we go about getting them? When we were kids, we naturally formed friendships at school. We saw these kids for 6 hours a day, and maybe more if we had after-school activities. We found things in common.
In retirement, we probably aren't spending 6-9 hours with someone. The question is, how do we form friendships after we retire?
Especially if we move, which is often the case.
This is something that I'd like to address more on the Rock Your Retirement show. We each have opportunities to meet people, talk with them, and then follow up with a coffee or lunch to cement that relationship. But often we don't do it. We say, “Let's do Lunch!” and then never follow up. We mean to, but we don't do it for one reason or another.
The cool thing is that if you do increase your circle of friends, it can help your feeling of well-being more than increasing your cash!
A survey by the National Bureau of Economic Research of 5,000 people found that doubling your group of friends has the same effect on your wellbeing as a 50% increase in income!
In retirement, it's even more important to form these bonds and nurture them. We are going to need that support later on.
Just because you are thinking about, or already retired, doesn't mean that you can't be productive. Or maybe you do want to work for pay, but just not full time. Sometimes you can work, get paid, and have new experiences that help you have a great retirement lifestyle.
One example is working seasonal jobs to have experiences. For instance, becoming a host at a National Park is one of these options. You might stay in your RV, and help keep the park clean, or answer guests questions. You'll get to stay for free and have that experience that you might not have had otherwise.
Or work on a dude ranch. Get paid. Stay free. Eat free. And meet lots of wonderful people for a summer.
Or perhaps you have an expertise that no one else has. You could, like my husband, be an expert witness. These jobs pay really well by the hour, but come along occasionally so you don't have to feel like you are in a full-time job.
Many people don't want to work for pay, but would rather volunteer their time. We've had numerous episodes on volunteer work and how to figure out what yours might be.
The key is that you have options.
Your “work” passion might be a hobby. You might not want to go to the senior center 3 days a week because you are working on making quilts for all of your 17 grandchildren. That's OK too.
It might even mean creating a podcast on a topic you are passionate about!
The main thing is to have something to do that gives you a sense of purpose. We don't lose that wanting to have a purpose just because we retire.
If you are a regular listener to the Rock Your Retirement show you probably already know that Health is a big issue in my personal life. My husband has stage 4 cancer, and when we found out, he had to make a decision about whether or not to go forward with chemotherapy. (He did) Not only did he want to use modern medicine to give him a good shot at a longer life, but he also wanted to use non-traditional methods of staying healthy such as supplements and changing his diet. You can read about what he's done at http://LesHasCancer.com
It's not just disease we need to be concerned with though, it's our general health. I personally have a problem with not moving enough. Although my weight isn't critical, I could lose 10 pounds to be at a healthier weight. So I struggle with these issues too.
In addition to our own health, our parent's health might be on our mind as well. Although we can't control what our parents do, we can be aware of health issues and be prepared (as well as possible) for them. We will never really be prepared for our mom or dad getting dementia, but we can be prepared by at least knowing that a urinary tract infection could cause dementia-like symptoms. This was super surprising to me!
There are changes we can make each day that can slow the spread of disease and the degradation of our bodies. For example, parking further away from the grocery store is a step in that direction.
I added health as a pillar because frankly if you're sick, nothing else really matters, right?
I added this separately from significant other because a lot of us have issues with family that we don't have with our spouse or other loved ones.
In family, I include parents, siblings, children, and any other family members that aren't our spouses that you want to include.
Many of us have past hurts from family members that are difficult to let go. I'm not perfect here either. I have some relationships that need fixing. It doesn't matter that I don't think it was my fault!
It's easy to get involved in our own lives and not reach out to family members. Personally, I'm going to try to actually put it on my calendar to reach out weekly to my family to strengthen those bonds.
You might be fantastic in this area. If that's you, then great! You have one of the 6 pillars already handled.
Each of us will have different pillars of retirement lifestyle that we need to work on.
You might have the Significant Other or the Family pillar handled. But your weight might be out of control, or you might be struggling to give up smoking.
My goal for 2018 is to break the Rock Your Retirement episodes into these six pillars so that we can go on this journey together. Together we'll learn what we need to know, or just be inspired by someone else's story.
That's what I'm looking to do this year, and I hope you'll come along for the journey.
If you haven't already subscribed to the show, go ahead and do that now.
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I'll see you next time, on Rock Your Retirement!
- Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy, PMC, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150158/
- The health benefits of strong relationships – Harvard Health, The health benefits of strong relationships, https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/the-health-benefits-of-strong-relationships, Harvard Health Publishing
- Why Personal Relationships Are Important | Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing, Why Personal Relationships Are Important, https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/why-personal-relationships-are-important
- Are We Biologically Inclined to Couple for Life? – Scientific American, Are We Biologically Inclined to Couple for Life?, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-we-biologically-inclined/, Jeannine Callea Stamatakis
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