How you can achieve life balance in retirement.

Retirement isn’t easy

These days, retirement may not look like we thought it would when we started this life journey. Ideally by retirement, you have your financial affairs in order and can use the new freedom doing as you like. You can spend time with your family, enjoy your favorite activities and enjoy experience health while you are doing it. So how is your retirement measuring up to those expectations? Is your retirement (or your anticipated retirement) working for you? The answer is that it is completely up to you.

Can you have life balance in retirement?

Life balance is keeping a balance between three important areas of life – financial, health and social. Retirement puts a stress on this balance that is more significant than in earlier stages of life. It is harder to make changes because change takes time and in retirement there is so much less of it. Also by retirement age we develop set patterns of living and thinking that keep us from being open to new ideas and making changes. We also believe that we have learned life lessons over our lifetimes and that these ‘truths’ limit the possibilities that we will accept. We have defined ourselves and refuse to consider any other possibilities. We lose the belief that anything is possible that we have when we are young. The truth is that nothing has changed. The possibilities are still there but first you have to believe and then you must be open to change.

Open your eyes.

The first step is an honest assessment of reality. Take a look at how you feel about the three areas of your life. Are you financially secure? Do you have a community of friends and family for support and companionship? Are you healthy and taking the steps necessary to maintain that health? A mentor of mine calls these three life functions the three train wrecks because failure in any area can wreck the balance of life. When you have a train wreck in one of those areas, you really can’t have a good life even if the other two areas are strong. Decide your level of success in each area and determine to work on the weakest one.

Stop limiting yourself.

The second stop is to forget any limiting beliefs that you hold about that area. Don’t accept excuses that keep you from finding solutions to the problem. If it is financial, don’t accept the idea that there are no ways for an old guy to make money or that it is too late to learn new ways to manage your assets. If it is social, don’t accept that you can’t make friends or that people don’t like you and learn about relationships and put yourself out there where relationships happen. Join clubs. Volunteer. Reach out. If it is health, change your diet, start to exercise. Learn about aging and decide to master the available information. It doesn’t matter where you start or how bad things are. You can take charge of your life and change you to the person you want to be.

Then Act!

The third step is to act. It is hard for an old dog to assess his world and decide to change but even harder for that old dog to do it. It is a difficult task to open your mind to possibilities that it had closed off years ago but it is courageous to take action. When you take action to change something about yourself that seemed an immutable truth, you can feel foolish. You can tell yourself that people are laughing at you. You can say that it won’t work and why try. The part of your brains that protects us from danger steps in to keep us from hurting ourselves. Seth Godin calls this the lizard brain and he advises not to listen to it. This is the hardest obstacle to change and the one most people won’t fight. Don’t listen to the lizard brain and act. Once you act, the fears will reveal themselves as false and the next action will be easier. Everybody can change but only the courageous will.

Stop settling for what you have.  Go for it!

Don’t settle for the life you have if it is not the life your want. If your retirement lifestyle is not in balance then make an assessment and act.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • mark July 20, 2010, 6:35 pm

    Hi Ralph,

    I like how you put life’s components into three logical categories – health, finance and social. I suppose everyone’s balance, or comfort zone, is going to be a bit different, but the way that you describe this is quite inspiring. Especially the bit where you talk about not limiting yourself. For me, that limiting tends to keep me from doing some things that I could do, if only I thought I could.

    Learning to remove those kinds of distractions and self-imposed limitations has been very helpful to me.

    Thanks for the inspiration Ralph. Have a great day!
    mark’s last Blog Post ..5 Myths About Goal Setting

  • Ralph July 21, 2010, 2:32 am

    Mark,
    These were important insights for me and help me move forward. Self limitation has two dimensions that I see. First the inability to visualize and believe that there are possibilities and second to simplify your understanding so that you can focus on specific areas and make small but significant improvements.

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