Year-end Evaluation

It’s time for the postworksavvy 2014 year-end evaluation.

With two days left until a new year begins, this is the time to take stock and to think about changes in 2015.  Regular readers of the postworksavvy blog know that I stopped making resolutions for the new year.  Instead, I prefer to think of this time as an opportunity to focus on how I’m doing on my life’s journey and to focus on aspirations for the next year.

Before thinking of future aspirations, however, it’s useful to evaluate what happened in 2014.

What were the highs and the lows?  

Every year brings both highs and lows.  The highs in my life included watching our grand-daughter grow and change during the first year of her life.  The delight of seeing a new generation in the family mitigates losses of the past decade including the premature deaths of both of my siblings. Connections within our small family brought laughter and happiness.

I’ve enjoyed opportunities to travel including an extended holiday driving through South Africa, a trip to Florida including a condo stay on the Inter-coastal Waterway, and a trip to New York City to celebrate American Thanksgiving with friends. Spending another relaxed summer at our cottage, reading good books for two book clubs, and taking bridge lessons would also stay on my list of highs for 2014.

2014 also had its lows.  Our garden was a disappointment.  I was away during May and early June so my part never got started. Aside from hardy perennials and a few herbs, there was no excitement from the bright colours of annuals nor the delicious produce of vegetables.

I made little progress in de-cluttering my life.  De-cluttering has been an aspiration for several years. The reality is that I’ve been avoiding it.

Most disappointing was a feeling of rushing through every day and every week. Too often I was late for an appointment which annoyed me.  The unhurried image of a retirement lifestyle that allows time to pursue creative interests eluded me.

What changes did you make that you will continue?

My word for the year was ‘action’.  I used ‘action’ as my mantra to encourage me to stop putting things off. Having a word to help me focus on moving forward with some task or project kept me focused on life priorities.  Sometimes it was a small task but the sense of accomplishment from completion always brought a smile.

Another change that I made was to a set time each day for writing.  I’ve done well with this with regular journal entries. When I’ve stuck to my writing schedule for completing blog posts, productivity has increased.

Since July I’ve been writing monthly guest posts for a newsletter based in Ireland.  I’m pleased that John Copleton, editor of Exploring Retirement issued an invitation.  You can read this newsletter at www.exploringretirement.co.uk

I’m also proud to have begun writing stories of my life and our family for our grand-daughter.

What did not work?

Related to feeling that I rushed through the year and the mantra of taking action, I always had a ‘to do’ list with too many items.  From my knowledge of time management, I tried to limit the daily list to 3 or 4 items but I kept another running list that grew longer and longer. This  list weighed me down.

After doing a leisure audit in October, I realized that I had made retirement commitments that no longer brought satisfaction and that I needed to spend more time on things I enjoyed. I decided to curtail certain activities, especially activities that involve meetings and time spent in board rooms. I resigned from several boards and committees to clear time from my schedule.  I’m also evaluating social commitments that leave me fatigued and not fulfilled.

What will you add to improve retirement happiness in 2015? 

The most important aspiration for 2015 is to have time to live purposefully and without rushing.  My word of the year is ‘purpose’.

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I’m going to use the rule of ‘two’ for scheduling my days — two activities or meetings or appointments or gym classes. I’m also going to allow an extra half hour for each activity so that I don’t have to rush.

I’ve got some new techie toys and my aspiration is to sharpen my knowledge of how to use these.  My new iphone can do so much more than make calls, send texts and fetch emails but I need to feel comfortable using it.  This is another year when I have new camera with more gadgets and settings than I understand.

Completing the 2014 year-end evaluation has forced me to face some of the realities of my life journey.  Mostly, I’m satisfied, however, making small adjustments will add to retirement happiness as I aspire to make 2015 a year of purpose.

I’m interested in hearing your reaction.  Do you make resolutions? Do you do a year-end evaluation?  Does it inspire you to make changes in your life?

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