The beginning of a new year usually means resolutions to make changes in your life. Goals common to many people include losing weight, stopping smoking, saving money, becoming physically active and developing a stress free lifestyle. Setting these goals often helps people to conquer habits and lifestyle issues.
However goal setting may not be for you. In the postworksavvy phase of life, goal setting, for me, is associated with the past experiences of corporate targets, professional obligations, and routines governed by a demanding career. In previous posts I have written about the freedom that comes with no longer needing to set goals. I try to live each day for its own rewards.
Not setting rigid goals does not mean that life in retirement becomes aimless and lacking in routine. There are always aspirations. Postworksavvy fulfillment comes from grounding each day in activities that enlarge you, keep you engaged with the world, and keep you learning new skills. This may include various types of continuing education, hobbies, creative activities, volunteering, and forming new relationships.
There are hundreds of blogs about living your life the the fullest and the advice found on the posts is familiar — develop your bucket list, seize each day, stretch yourself to keep growing, seek variety, focus on happiness, learn to play, simplify/de-clutter your life, value relationships, spend your time living the life of your dreams. In reviewing these blogs and the well-written posts, it is evident that many people are on a similar quest to find ways to live well.
Living well — ‘enlarging your life’ — becomes particularly important in the third phase of life as the realization that there won’t be a second chance becomes more of a reality. Each day must count.
There’s a challenge here for the postworksavvy — how will you get energized about your future and live your life to the fullest? For each of us the answer will be different and will require courage to take the risks to realize those dreams.
A Multi-Dimensional Approach
Living large requires a multi-dimensional approach. Flexibility, openness, and not getting too attached to particular outcomes are components.
Recently I have been re-reading Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way which is an excellent manual on learning how to enhance creativity. Her two basic approaches — the daily pages and the weekly ‘date’ with yourself can be a challenge. However, I’m finding that the discipline of her approach is yielding deeper insight into what is important in my heart and is leading me to explore new dimensions in my life. Only a year ago I would not have dreamed that I would be writing this blog much less feeling energized through writing as aspect of my own creativity. The revelations in the daily pages are yielding more ideas than I have time to implement.
Finding the courage to break out of familiar routines and habits can also lead to a fuller life. Whether it is as simple as a change in your regular driving route to your home, or changing your environment by refreshing a favourite room, these changes can be energizing.
You may also want to consider what Collins and Porras in their successful business book Successful Habits of Visionary Companies named the ‘BHAG’ — or Big Hairy Audacious Goal to create a multi-year challenge that requires acquisition of new skills and/or undertaking a major life change. Developing a personal BHAG means that you will commit to taking some risks in your personal life — but without challenging yourself how else will you grow?
Leaving behind the perks — such as they were in the world of a not-for-profit CEO — and the external rewards from a professional career was my 2010 BHAG. In retirement I now have a lifestyle where I answer only to myself. Enlarging my life is focused more on internal accomplishments — enjoying solitude, exploring new and old hobbies, spending time learning how to use new technical equipment, and goofing off. I don’t have a specific BHAG but I am concentrating on living in the moment, staying centred and addressing aspects of my inner life that were ignored for so many years. What a pleasure to enjoy one’s own company!
If we keep doing the same things in the same way, we will likely get the same results. Now is the time to commit to taking those risks to make life changes that will enlarge your life. You may want to focus on the rewards of the external world — money, fancy possessions, exotic travel or exhilarating adventures. Each of these brings an amount of satisfaction and can help you to live the life of your dreams. You can also make changes that will bring the pleasure of a fulfilling inner world — the satisfaction that is achieved from seizing new opportunities to stretch yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Make the choices that involve some risks and challenges for you. Ultimately you will gain the pleasure of knowing that you have succeeded in squeezing all of the joy from a life well lived!
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