Retirement Lifestyle Design-A One Year Update.

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What ever happened to ‘Finishing Strong’?

A year ago, I had a vision for my life. It was summed up in the phrase, ‘Finishing Strong’ and I used it for a time as the byline on this blog. What it meant to me was making the last years of my life a statement about life, not accepting conventional wisdom and pushing myself with every fiber in my body to make my last years the best and most fulfilling ones. Taking all the lessons, I learned, all the opportunities missed, every one of my screw-ups and applying them to create the retirement lifestyle that would give me my perfect day. I vowed to reject limits and embrace possibilities,

So, how’s it going after a year?

I may be too close to the program to be objective but I think I’m making some progress. I have a much clearer idea about what my perfect day will be like. Better still, my wife is part of the program. It isn’t just my fantasy. We share the same vision. It’s a different vision than I started with. I always wanted a house at the beach. Now I’m not so interested in owning things. I want to travel and spend time in interesting places, lots of time. Ownership is just a complication

I became more focused.

This made me aware of the two dimensions of my life that most limit my dream- money and health. If I want to travel without hardship, I need more income. Even more important is that if I don’t manage my health, travel is impossible. I didn’t understand what my perfect day would be like one year ago. I was taking my health for granted and I was taking a very passive role in increasing my income. Getting more precision to my perfect day vision mad me more committed to eliminating the barriers. I’ve been taking my health seriously, committing to daily core strength routines and I have made some commitments about making the income happen now.

But there’s more!

I wanted to create a community of people with a new perspective about retirement. I hoped that through my blog, I would find other people committed to outrageous retirement- which is how I characterized my mission. I didn’t expect that everyone would want my perfect day. What I hoped to find were people who were not settling for the lifestyle they were stuck with and were willing to do what it takes to live their perfect day. I know that there would be many varieties of perfect day. I wasn’t interested in finding people who wanted to live mine. I wanted to find people who weren’t going to settle for ordinary. After a year, it’s clear that my community building skills need improvement. I know that there are many people who are wishing for more and willing to step up to make it happen. I’m just not doing the right stuff to find them.

Age is not the defining qualification.

Part of the problem was my definition of the potential market for that community. I accepted the old retirement definition as making sense. I thought that retirement was related to age. I was trapped by the conventional thinking about retirement. Now it is clear to me that retirement lifestyle is a reality for anyone at any age. It is a way of thinking about life and taking control instead of being controlled. It doesn’t mean that you stop working and live on your savings. What it means is that you decide how you want to live and then design the lifestyle components that create it. You work. You play. You stay alive and vital. And you enjoy every moment.

So, after a year, I no longer associate retirement lifestyle with age or not working. These days I’m working and enjoying it far more than when I was an employee satisfying somebody else s mission. I don’t want to sit around watching television or even playing golf. I’m on a mission and to get my perfect day, I’m going to have to work. I don’t think that everyone should do what I do. What I hope is that everyone is working to make their perfect day a reality- whatever it is. And when your days match your perfect day, then I call that outrageous because you didn’t accept what life throws at you as acceptable. You decided to take control.

I’m not in control yet but I can see my perfect day coming and the work I put in to make it happen just makes me more confident that I’m on the right path.

Now it’s your turn.

What I’d like to hear from readers is what you are doing to make your perfect day happen- or better yet tell me that you are already there.



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{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Bob@CommonSenseConversation June 29, 2011, 8:24 am

    I’m not “there”, wherever there is, but I like to think I’m taking more forward steps than backwards ones along the path it the direction of “there”.

    • Ralph June 29, 2011, 8:31 am

      I suggest that you take a moment and decide where there is. It will shorten the path.

  • Bill Murney June 29, 2011, 10:39 am

    Ralph, I’m definitely with you on “ownership is just a complication”. I find the older I get the less I want material possessions.

    You have never mentioned your strategy for increasing your income, so come on Ralph give us all some insight into how you hope to achieve it.

    Regarding your last sentence, well I am already there and I hope that doesn’t sound too arrogant.

    A-U-L, UK

    • Ralph June 29, 2011, 1:55 pm

      I had a sense that you were feeling good about your retirement situation. It certainly comes across from your blog and being proud at reaching this level is certainly not arrogant. Congratulations.
      My income program is separate from this blog which has evolved into a documentation of my personal journey. The elevator pitch version (it is still being fleshed out) is as a Retirement Lifestyle Consultant providing support and resources to people who want a satisfying retirement lifestyle (apologies to Bob) but are falling short in one of the three dimensions (wealth, relationships or health). There are other details but as they flesh out, I’ll be linking (or advertising) my other activities here and around the web.

      • Bill Murney June 30, 2011, 12:33 am

        I look forward to seeing the finished product Ralph and it sounds like it could be a successful niche you have found yourself.

        • Ralph June 30, 2011, 6:31 am

          Time will tell.

  • Bob Lowry June 29, 2011, 1:15 pm

    I think this an excellent,honest evaluation of your journey. In the year I have known your through your blog I can clearly see the shifts in your direction and attitude.

    Personally, I’m not sure I want to achieve a perfect day. If I do, then what? I’d rather always have all sorts of things that please me and satisfy me. Which ones make up today may be different than the ones that make up tomorrow. That way I have lots to look forward to.

    • Ralph June 29, 2011, 1:43 pm

      You are of course, right about the perfect day. It’s not a precise regimen but it does contain the essence of how I want to live, where and with whom I want to spend time and what will make me happy, It will evolve and will be constrained by my wealth, social connections and health. But without that vision in my head, I don’t know why I need to exercise or create more income. Your perfect day may be a series of pleasant surprises. That’s for you to decide.

  • Hansi June 30, 2011, 10:24 am

    A perfect day, versus of course all them imperfect days, would be one wherein I accept everything that occurs as being just as it should be and wanting nothing other. i think a perfect day is more an attitude than a goal one sets for themselves as to what should be. The major cause of suffering is wanting what isn’t and resisting what is. Doesn’t mean blind acceptance, but less a fixation on goals.
    Well it’s time for my mid-day nap 🙂 How sweet it is.

    • Ralph June 30, 2011, 10:32 am

      You are going all mystical and eastern on me. I’m not about going with the flow. I’ve done that. I’m not satisfied with accepting second rate. You can- and should- do what makes you happy as often and as much as you like. But I’m not saying that an afternoon nap isn’t peachy keen either.

  • Gerri July 1, 2011, 4:42 am

    Well. Interesting to find your blog, Ralph, and I have loved reading it. I have been retired exactly one week, and as I write this I am sitting in a beach house (rented, not owned) having a transitional week. In a nutshell, I am your female counterpart. I want to finish strong too, and I thought I had it all figured out, have certainly been thinking about it long enough….two years. But now that I am here, I am full of questions and a bit of angst. I certainly have my interests, think I have the income part figured out, but the parts about fun, happiness and meaning aren’t as clear. So….hello.


    • Ralph July 1, 2011, 7:28 am

      Hello. Glad to have your company. It’s an exciting time and now that you’ve arrived, it seems like you are off to a good start by taking a transition week. It will probably take more than a week but don’t get excited yet about making any commitments. Having the money taken care of is monumental. It will help keep you from getting distracted from what is important to do. Start thinking about your perfect day. Get wild and crazy. Don’t get railroaded into what you “ought” to be doing. Then come back and share. I’m excited for you.

  • Steve Skinner July 2, 2011, 11:03 am

    Hi Ralph, Thanks for checking up on me! I been busy the past few month working my plan that and it’s left little time for blogging.

    • Ralph July 2, 2011, 3:56 pm

      When you get a chance share what you’ve been up to. It’s always good to know a man with a plan.

  • Ned Carey July 4, 2011, 7:23 pm

    >Age is not the defining qualification.

    I am not even sure retirement is a qualification. Everyone should build a vision for their lives and work towards it.

    Lately I have been working on my vision. I have found it tougher than expected to discover what I truly want.

    • Ralph July 5, 2011, 8:15 am

      I think you are right that its not age or retirement, it’s what kind of life you want and then taking action to make it happen. And that vision of what you want is harder than it seems. My problem is separating all the ideas about what I want that seem to come from outside me (what I am supposed to want) and what really makes me happy. It’s not easy- and it changes as I move forward. I hope you will share your vision of the perfect day- when you find it.

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