Retiring early seems to be better than retiring late providing you are financially independent. People used to retire and then die. Nowadays, retirement can last twenty years. What do you plan to do for these twenty years? Golf, tennis, an overseas trip or a drive around Australia won’t fill twenty years. It might fill one and then what? If you plan to do some travel, renovation or study, make sure your health is up to the task. Don’t wait until you are tired or just want to stay home. Act while you have the interest and the energy.
The idea of retiring completely is out of date. Because of a longer and healthier life, retirement has become a transition from full time to part time work. It is important that the work is meaningful and benefits others as well as yourself. If you have the choice of choosing the work you do, and likely you do as you work less, make sure the work is at least enjoyable or helping others. It is very important to plan for this transition well in advance. Decide whether you simply want to work less for money or whether you want to volunteer your time and skills. Staying in the workforce will help keep you alert and sharp and will help others. There is a honeymoon period when you decide to retire. What are you going to do after the honeymoon?
Christmas can be stressful. Shopping can become a contact sport. Small talk can wear you down.
The solution. Be mindful this Christmas.
Give serious thought to your choice of presents for your loved ones. What do they really want or need? What will delight them?
Be really curious on Christmas Day. Listen to people as if you can learn from them. Even small children. Suspend your judgment. You may help them by just listening. Really listening. Ask them questions.
If you make an effort to ensure that everyone you meet has a great Christmas, you are likely to have one too.
My wife and I visited a country where politeness was supposedly seen as insincere. Our tour guide advised us to not take offence at being spoken to ‘impolitely’ according to our standards. Is politeness a way to show respect? Is it useful or just insincere and false?
I suggest that it is all three. It is a way of showing respect, expressing gratitude and keeping unpleasant opinions unsaid. It is useful as it helps people to hold back an impulse when hearing an opinion different from your own. It does help people to explore the middle ground in a disagreement and keep a hold on their responses. It can be false. Imagine being asked your opinion about a job and saying the opposite of what you really think to build the confidence of the other.
Think about politeness as a pause before saying what you really think. Think about the effect your words or action will have on the other person rather than just be ‘honest’. Try being polite. I recently allowed a car to enter the stream of traffic in front of me and got a wave. This is polite. I will do it again.
I am sure you are familiar with mindfulness. It is about being in the present moment without judging. It is about not being pulled in many directions by random thoughts. Mindful eating, driving & meditation. How about mindful listening. This would be a very useful habit to develop. Start small. Ask someone for their opinion on any topic and listen 100%. If your mind wanders, gently nudge it back to listening. Ask questions that help the person explain themselves. Paraphrase accurately without adding your own thoughts. Be curious rather than build a case to refute their opinion. If asked to reply, start slowly or simply continue listening. ” Before I tell you my thoughts I have one more question for you…”
You only learn when listening to yourself or others.
Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi wrote a wonderful book on ‘Flow”. Flow being the state we are in when we do something well or enjoyable without much conscious thought. We may not be aware of what we are doing but we do it well. We get lost in the activity. Think Federer or a classic violinist. He said there are four ingredients of flow.
Challenge – create a challenge for yourself
Risk – take risks
Goals – set short and long term goals
Feedback – get external feedback from a trusted source
A mentor is someone who can give you advice and feedback to assist you to grow into your potential. Think about asking someone to give you feedback or mentor you for the next year. This is a person you trust. A bit like a favourite uncle or aunty. Ask them for feedback and listen carefully when it is given. You will know if the feedback is helpful. It’s your call whether you act on the feedback. This person can help you identify a challenge which is just out of reach, encourage you to take calculated risks, set short, middle and long term goals and give you feedback along the way.