Clicky

Search:

For Love of Work

September 19, 2021 by  
Filed under blog

Last week, I said I would tell more of the story about Bunker Bean who I spoke about in the last couple of posts. However, I am going to do that next week as I have something else I want to share with you first.

Recently, I was thumbing through a great book that I read years ago entitled When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough by Harold Kushner. As I always do when I read a book, I wrote down many of the most interesting, helpful, and motivating quotes and comments that the author made. These notes are a great way to go back and easily refresh my memory since they highlight those points that hit me the hardest and helped lift my thoughts, actions, and life to a higher level.

Here are some of the points in this book that really helped me, especially the comments about work and how important it is for all of us:

l. Work can be the scaffolding that holds up our adult lives. (I need to keep remembering this as being retired makes it more difficult to find and do the best kinds of work for me.)

2. The key to one’s happiness is to find pleasure in our work and to use our abilities–no wasting them!

3. Our souls are hungry for meaning.

4. We work for meaning. We work so our days will not be empty of meaning!

5. Do not expect that life will always be fair.

6. For ultimate satisfaction, lower the level of what you want to what you already have.

7. The affliction which drains so much of the sense of meaning from our lives these days is that disease of boredom.

Kushner makes several other notable points in this book that are not easily summarized and put into a list. For example, he writes, “Asked, “’What do you do?’ we invariably respond in terms of our work, not our hobbies or organizational commitments,” implying that work is often our identity.

About himself, he notes that, “I work because I have a family to support and bills to pay. But I work also because it puts me in touch with people and helps me think of myself as a competent, contributing person.”

Kushner also writes that “there is something satisfying about being challenged to do something hard and then doing it. I think it must have been what Ecclesiastes had in mind when he said to us, in effect, ‘If you are not going to win a Nobel Prize for your work, if it is not going to make you rich and famous, it can still give meaning to your life if you take it seriously and do it with all your might.’”

I think the author makes many wonderful comments and offers some very helpful advice. It’s a great little book and I highly encourage you to get it and read it but, most importantly, LIVE by the advice that you think will make a big difference in your life, a difference for the better.

Actions and Practices in Self-Esteem

March 21, 2021 by  
Filed under blog

Having healthy self-esteem is a critical part of all of our lives. It is one of those attributes that can help us rise very high in business, within our social circles, and in terms of our happiness and self-confidence.

I was looking through a bunch of my old papers and came across some notes I made years ago while I was looking into a related thing that is so important to our lives—that being confidence. I want to share with you some of those notes that helped me better understand the importance of healthy versus low self-esteem, it’s role in my confidence level, and how I could build more of both in myself.

The sources of healthy self-esteem are mostly internal. In our brains we work on and build what we think of ourselves, and if we approach it correctly, we tend to have lots of confidence and work on bringing our self-esteem to higher levels.

No, you don’t need to achieve perfection overnight, but you can get so much from just small improvements designed to lift low self-esteem. We all need to be aware of the operations of our consciousness as your mind is the best tool for survival. You should be aware of everything and live in the present moment, seeing first, then knowing, then acting.

So, you may ask, what are these actions are we talking about? Well, here are some of them:

1. Have an active mind.

2. Be in the moment.

3. Reach toward relevant facts.

4. Know where I am relative to my goals.

5. Always be open to new knowledge.

6. See and correct mistakes.

7. Make commitments to learning and growth.

In addition, there are a few practices that can boost self-esteem. Here is a list of practices that I wrote down and regularly work on that seem to boost my self-esteem. These practices have helped lead to some great success in my business and personal life.

1. The practice of self-acceptance. (It’s sad that most of us are very hard on ourselves, even harder than we are on other people, and, of course, that self-judgment is quietly tucked in our minds and quietly reduces our self-esteem.)

2. The practice of self-responsibility.

3. The practice of self-acceptance.

4. The practice of living purposefully.

5. The practice of self-assertiveness.

6. The practice of personal integrity.

When self-esteem is low, we are usually motivated by fear. Fear is how we act. There is fear of being exposed, fear of failure, dreading the unknown, and change. Higher self-esteem looks for new frontiers, looks for opportunity, and looks for new and bigger challenges. Sadly, without a good level of self-esteem, we suffer with lots of anxiety and insecurity.

These guidelines were and are very helpful to me in building and maintaining my self-esteem. This is quite important to me now in my retirement years. I am also only a few years away from hitting that big 80 number. I’ve been keeping my tennis game up so I need to keep working on keeping my self-esteem up too! Hope these guidelines and suggestions are helpful to you!

The Neglected Key to a Long Life

October 25, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

I started to re-read the book entitled I’ve Decided to Live 120 YEARS: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Transformation written by Ilchi Lee. I’ve written about this book in a previous blog post but I didn’t mention an incredible statistic I learned about in these pages.

It turns out, you can do this very simple thing that, on average, can lengthen your life by 7.5 years. That conclusion was reached based on data from 143 studies with a total of 300,000 participants. In that previous post, I mostly talked about how a long and healthy life is primarily about eating nutritious foods and staying physically active but there’s a bit more you can do.

So, during my second read of the book, what really jumped out at me was something that I’ve not been doing much of since I retired. I’m kind of surprised that I’ve ignored this critical part of living a long life and I have suffered because of it.

What is it that I’ve ignored that could have possibly lengthened my life by 7.5 years? It’s this thing called a social life! Having and keeping a good strong and active social life does things to the brain including sending signals to various body parts that keep it healthy and helps you live longer.

When I retired, I let my social life slide down big time! I stopped going to the office and so I stopped seeing my coworkers, clients, partners and business associates. I also moved into a big house on the mountain side with no neighbors, so that made it even worse. And this COVID-19 has certainly not helped in the least. In addition, there’s no kids here at home anymore. It’s just me and the wife in our big, empty nest.

Lee says in his book, “The isolation of the elderly doesn’t only cause loneliness, it has been shown to have a negative impact on physical and mental health, increasing conditions like chronic disease, high blood pressure, depression, cognitive decline, and dementia”. In addition, he notes, “Having people around us with whom we can communicate on a heart-to-heart level may also reduce the effects of stress.”

We all want to be happy but things can quickly change when we suddenly retire–Lee goes on to say “People, especially as they get older, are experiencing deeper and more frequent forms of unhappiness in many spheres of life: chronic illnesses, alienation or disruption of personal relationships, weakening of economic power. Suddenly facing their social roles greatly reduced during retirement, people are likely to find their self-esteem withering away.”

Most of that has hit me hard so I’m here to tell you that, whether you are retired yet or not, it’s a good time to start making a list of plans and actions that you are going to take on when that day arrives and be sure an active social life is on there. Personally, I’m bound and determined to catch up and do just that!

In Lee’s book he also talks about another thing that can lengthen and make your life more pleasant and happy and it’s something that I’ve talked a lot about over the years – having a good strong purpose and hopes and dreams. I will talk more about those issues in my next week’s post.

Getting On With Living

October 18, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

As mentioned last week, retirement has challenges that aren’t always anticipated and so I gave you some ideas to overcome that. This week, I have more ideas to help you deal with the struggles that many people have when they retire, including me. Even if you are not retiring now or anytime soon these ideas and methods can still enhance your life.

When I found that I was struggling with retirement I sought answers in a few very helpful books written on that very subject and what I learned helped me a ton. By the way, the current pandemic can have us struggling in a similar way as our routines and schedules are thrown out of whack.

Elaine St. James wrote a great little book titled, Inner Simplicity: 100 Ways to Regain Peace and Nourish Your Soul. ln the book, she talks about how important it is to have a routine and follow a schedule that you set up for yourself, retired or not. Of course, before we are retired, most of us have a routine and schedule due to our job and family but most of that goes away as we enter retirement.

For St. James, “inner simplicity” means creating joy in our lives and staying connected with that joy every moment of the day. When many of us retire, along with a loss of routine, we may stop or reduce how connected we are to our joy which is due in part to our reduced connection to other people, like work associates and even friends.

St. James goes on to say, “Now that I’ve simplified my life, I find it easy to get up at the crack of dawn, or even earlier. In that quiet time, I can do you yoga and stretching, write in my journal, do some deep breathing, work on affirmations and visualizations, meditate or have some quiet time to just sit and think.” That’s some very good stuff we can learn from and follow.

Another great book is What Will I Do All Day?: Wisdom to Get You Over Retirement and on with Living!, by Patrice Jenkins, PHD. She talks a lot about energy and also notes how much we get from working with other people when we are on the job.

She asks, “How do you discover your work’s energy source? Think about what parts of your work you enjoy most. Is there one part of your work that charges you with high-octane fuel? “

She continues with suggestions and probing questions. “Maybe your energy source comes from being involved in teamwork with coworkers. If you have already retired, you may have insight on what parts of your work provided you with the most energy. Was it a chance to help people, to teach, to solve problems, or be physically active? ”

Later, she makes this great point: “Once you have identified your energy source, you will know what it is that you’ll want to keep alive in retirement.”

Wow, that’s some great advice and it has helped me a ton. I hope this will help you if you are retired or planning for when that day arrives, or even through this terrible pandemic. Routines, staying in touch with people, and knowing the source of our energy can help us through unexpected struggles and back to living a full life.

 

Retirement – The Best or the Worst

October 11, 2020 by  
Filed under blog

I’m sure you, like most people would agree that the majority of us humans look forward to the day we get to retire. You know … no alarm clock to wake us up, no worrying about pleasing our boss, and so many other things we won’t have to do. You imagine life will be so great, that you will be able to relax, do anything you want to do, have tons of fun, and be able to travel anywhere in the world (that you can afford) on a whim.

Well, you know what? Some of that may be true. But when you find yourself without a schedule or purpose, that can get very depressing. You might even go a little crazy. And nowadays we have COVID-19 on top of that so it can be even worse. In fact, most of us are getting a preview of retirement now that our routines have been so dramatically changed.

You might find yourself asking, “Just what am I going to do today?”

The smart one’s among us begin to make lots of plans long before they hit that retirement wall. When I was preparing to retire, I made a few plans, but I didn’t create enough to-do lists or new routines.

So, what did I do when I was feeling down because of my lack of a schedule? I turned to books written about retirement. In Ernie J. Zelinski’s great book The Joy of Not Working, he makes lots of great suggestions such as, “One of the chief sources of happiness is having a special purpose or a personal mission in life … Finding and pursuing your true calling can make life a totally new experience.”

He then gives some examples of personal missions:

1. Make the world a better place to live by reducing pollution.

2. Raise money to help care for others in need.

3. Help children develop a special talent or skill, such as playing piano.

4. Write entertaining children’s book that help young boys and girls discover the wonders of the world.

5. Give foreign travelers the best possible tour of the Rocky Mountains.

6. Create a committed relationship and keep it exciting and energizing.

The author goes on to say, “Although a true calling should be closely tied to your values and interests, it can also be determined by your strengths and weaknesses. Your personal mission will intimately connect you to who you are and to the world around you. Taking the time to answer the following questions may help reveal a personal mission that you would like to pursue.”

I must say that his questions really helped me:

1. What are all your passions?

2. What are your strengths?

3. Who are your heroes?

4. What do you want to discover or learn?

Answering those great questions can put you on the right track. It has for me. So, if you are not retired yet, start making specific plans. And if you are retired and struggling, answer those questions above to help you discover your great purpose and direction for this new chapter in your life.

 

The 120 Year Goal

December 29, 2019 by  
Filed under blog

It’s not too late to make some New Year’s resolutions, a.k.a. goals for 2020!  What are your New Year’s resolutions? Hopefully you have a detailed, clear, and measurable set of goals with timelines attached and, of course, written down.

With those in hand, my first suggestion is that you make your start date TODAY. That’s right – start right now. There is no good reason you can’t take those first, maybe very small but necessary steps, toward your goals for the new year. I think that the goal of great health is, or should be, on the top of most people’s list. It’s been proven that if you set a reasonable goal for great health, the odds are very high that you will achieve those health goals.

My son gave me a book entitled I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years by Ilchi Lee. The author makes a big point of how a decision or goal to live a very long life can push you toward looking and finding what you want to live for. The problem for most people, when they get to around the age of 75 or 80, is that they don’t have a specific purpose.

Mr. Lee says his choice to live to be 120 was not based on his family history or his current health. “My choice stemmed from my desire to be of service to the world and to take responsibility for the great dream that I’ve set for my life.” Lee has a big project in New Zealand called “Earth Village,” which is a “residential school and community where hundreds of people can experience a self-reliant, earth-friendly lifestyle in a place where humans and nature live in harmony”.

It’s so important, especially as we age, to have a project and an agenda that we can totally throw ourselves into. Without a goal, a plan, and a timeline agenda you really won’t be driven to do much at all, especially if you are 70 or 80 years old and retired. Before retirement you would likely have a work routine that pushes you out the door and off to work. But after you retire, you really don’t have much pushing you, so you have to set that up yourself if you want a life full of joy, happiness, and a great feeling of accomplishment.

So, what do you want to accomplish and how you can help others lift their dreams and goals for a better and longer life?

At this time of year, I certainly ask myself that as well as taking a hard look at what I had set out to do in the year that is just wrapping up. I take note of where I fell short and where I exceeded my dreams and goals.

One of the items at the top of my list last year that I’m, again, putting on this year’s list to is the goal of “Top Notch Health”.  If you decide to live to be 120, which is not common but certainly physically possible, you will most likely take a hard look at what the key to good health might be. You, no doubt, will discover that what you eat as well as keeping active and moving are at the top of the list to increase your chances of reaching your big goal.

In all my years of reading about health and longevity I have found and am convinced that the diet called “The CRON Diet”, is a huge key to success and has studies to show that it can extend your life and your health.  I will talk more about next week though!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year!

 

Refilling Your Social Life in a Fulfilling Retirement

February 8, 2019 by  
Filed under blog

The great thing about regular work or a job is that it gives you a good reason to get out of bed each morning and get going, and it is very important when you retire is to set something up that replaces that for you. One way to do that, as I mentioned in last week’s post, is put yourself to work in a way that can better the world.

As you push yourself to get involved with a charity, or whatever it is that you choose, you will find that you can replace what your work gave you in terms of structure and routine with the activities of your new mission. This will give you something to get you out of bed but, just as important, that structure and routine will also give you a new social aspect to your life.

Most of us develop a significant social life that revolves around work, but then, when we retire, this is often lost. So, getting involved in a charity or other organization can replace what you are missing when you leave your job or no longer work. It will do all that while you do a little something to make the world a better place.

Most of us humans really don’t realize how very important our social contacts are until they disappear or are greatly diminished when we retire. It’s not that you won’t know those same people or continue to have great friendships with some of them, but when you’re no longer working together, you are suddenly not nearly as involved in each other’s lives and you don’t see each other nearly so often. Most people will greatly miss the regular social contact if they do not replace it with another purposeful and regular activity that also involves time connecting and interacting with other people.

Each of us will have our own plan but here is what I plan on doing to push myself to create a new routine, structure, and source of social connections in my life that will make me get out of bed every morning and look forward to the day: I would like to teach grade school, high school, and university students in classes on writing, marketing, public speaking, financial methods and strategies, and maybe even tennis, on a regular scheduled time and day. I know quite a bit about all those subjects, and I do love to teach others how to do these things and show them how they can have great success and a huge sense of fulfillment and satisfaction from learning these new skills.

So, my challenge to you is to start thinking about your own retirement and start making plans on what you will do to create routine, structure, and social connections. Make a list now, even if you are many years away from retirement. You can change up that list as things come to you but just being aware of the necessity will help you create a fulfilling plan. You won’t be sorry if you do that now!

Retirement Can Create a Better World

February 1, 2019 by  
Filed under blog

I want to write a bit more about last week’s theme of retirement – how it can be good, bad or sometimes very ugly. Even if you are many years away from retirement, you can make your retirement much better and have an easier transition if you are aware of some of the pitfalls that many people stumble into when they retire. I want to share a few secrets to making your retirement transition quite comfortable and pleasant.

Part of the reason I want to share these points is that, for me, retirement came close to driving me seriously crazy. It made me feel worthless and caused me to have big mood swings. Last week I wrote about some of the great and promising ideas from Patrice Jenkin’s book, What Will I Do All Day. She points out that many people go into retirement without realizing how critically important it is for them to still have routine and structure in their lives. Most people’s work lives automatically give them those two critical things. Plus, their work usually results in a lot of measurable production which lifts the human mind and spirit and gives us great personal satisfaction. The huge problem comes when a person retires and most, if not all, of those satisfying items quickly disappear. One other thing that also goes away or is often greatly diminished is one’s social life!

So, what is an excellent antidote to the retirement blues and the great letdown? In one word it’s WORK. But it has to be much more than just busy work. It has to be meaningful and productive.  Ideally, it’s doing something that you love and something that helps other people. It should be something that helps make the world a better place because, although you don’t really need to make a dime out of doing that work, it needs to be purposeful.

For me, the answer was going for the great feelings I get from donating my time and money to charity work. What is especially appealing to me is helping kids. Even doing a little thing like reading to them or telling simple, fun stories on a regular basis is fulfilling and purposeful. Even more fulfilling for me is teaching, because of my background and my passion.

I’ve done a little of this already, but I’ve just begun this particular new mission in life. The time I spend with the kids involves simple things but it is now part of my routine and structure and is a huge mood lifter for both me and the kids. A similar mission could do the same for you no matter what charity you choose. In a small but growing way, we can make the world a better place all while staying fulfilled and purposeful in our retirement.

The Freedom of Structure

January 25, 2019 by  
Filed under blog

I’m reading a great book that my son gave to me, titled What Will I DO All Day, by Patrice Jenkins PHD.  It’s all about retirement and how it can be either a really good thing or something that drives you crazy. And it can all start long before you retire. It may even start from the moment you just begin thinking about what the heck you are going to do when you retire.

Most people think, “Oh, it’s going to be great when I retire. I’ll have all that time to do all those things that I’ve wanted to do but haven’t had time to do.” But when people actually retire, many of us can become very frustrated because, all of a sudden, we don’t have a routine or the structure that a regular job gave us. Now we must set a routine and a structure of our own and that takes some thinking and some work.

So much of what this author talks about that needs to be done also applies to all of us in our daily living long before we even think about retirement, such as setting goals, writing them down, and writing daily “to do” lists. We all know, or should by now, that when we write down a list of things to do the night before, the likelihood of us following through and actually adding action to that list and doing it, increases big time. I’m sure you have seen that happen in your own life.

Patrice has a chapter called “Structure is Freedom”. When we are working full time, structure doesn’t seem like freedom. She tells the story of this one guy by the name of Jim. Jim said, “You have to know what you’re getting up to each day.” Here is what she wrote about Jim and what Jim’s thoughts were:

“When Jim first retired he was looking forward to having his days free to do anything he wanted to do. But, after a few months of this, he told me that he, ‘found it to be more work not to work. My energy level was lower than when I used to work 10 hours a day. The truth is I was puttering around the house most of the day.’

“It was at this point that Jim acknowledged that having more structure in his days would improve life in retirement. He started scheduling appointments, making commitments, and setting deadlines. He decided to set his alarm for 7 a.m. and start each day with exercise. He made a rule to turn the television off by 9 a.m. so that he could start doing something more productive. Jim also volunteered for a couple of organizations which required weekly commitments of his time and talents. He told me these changes gave his life a more focused direction. ‘Now I know what I’m getting up to each morning,’ he said. ‘I really needed the structure to give me the freedom to enjoy retirement.’”

What Jim learned is something we should all focus on and be sure we do it whether we are retired, close to retirement, or many years away from that status. Yes, our full-time jobs give us structure and a routine, but our lives can be, and will be, so much more fulfilled and productive if we set up our own routines and structure totally independent of our jobs. Now that I’m semi-retired I am going to work much harder on my own routines and structure too.

Big Challenges on the Brain

November 3, 2018 by  
Filed under blog

Have you ever met someone who has made it to the 29,020-foot summit of Mt. Everest? Yes, I know, most of us think they’re crazy, but maybe they’re not as crazy as we think because their high satisfaction level seems to last for a lifetime! Years ago, I wrote the following.

Again, the tough challenges and hard work over a period of time, equals long-lasting satisfaction and contentment.  One of the big and growing problems in today’s world is that too few people believe or know this simple principle

Or maybe they used to know it and they’ve forgotten it.

We all should never forget the great zen saying, “To know and not to do is not yet to know.” Many people, for example, think they want a ton of money—and fast—so they can sit back and relax and really live. They think they want to sit around the pool and drinking a Mai Tai or watch movies all day. They think that will bring them satisfaction and contentment.

Our very retirement system even promotes that idea. That’s one reason we have so many mid-lifers and beyond who are downright miserable, and it doesn’t seem to matter whether they have a huge net worth or not. With too much of a slowdown, there’s an inevitable letdown, and as you’ve probably noticed, good old Fred or Mary retire at age 65 and pass away at age 67 or 70.

The bottom line is, if you stop challenging yourself, you’ll start dying. It’s almost a one-to-one correlation and all of that usually starts inside your mind. But if you “take a trip inside your mind,” you’ll find there are plenty of ways to program your brain so you’ll avoid the trap that snares so many people.

Next week I want to tell you the great story of Erik Weihenmayer who push himself to climb Mt. Everest. He did it even though he was totally blind – he was the first blind man ever to accomplish that super human feat!  Talk about giving oneself a huge challenge! Wow.  How long did his satisfaction and contentment last?

So, are you and I pushing ourselves and putting big enough challenges in our minds and then going after them to enhance and make our life more exciting and fulfilling? I can’t speak for you but I know now, at age 74, I need to challenge myself much more than I’ve been doing lately. But I really do have to ask you—-do you need to challenge yourself a bit more or maybe even a lot more?  Only you can answer that question.

Next Page »