Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Retirement Plans Can Change

I have been retired for 4 years now, and when that final day of my career ended, I thought I had a plan set in stone! Well, things change, and how we deal with those changes can make or break us. I had what I considered a perfect retirement set up. I own a sweet little farm house on a half acre and I couldn't wait to be more than a weekend gardener. I had built a green house, had raised beds full of compost thanks to my chickens, flower beds full of perennials, and all setting in the idyllic town of Ashland, Oregon. I saw myself doing all those things in my community and home that I never had time for when I worked as a social worker at a large hospital. I wanted to join a committee that was working on water issues in our town, become more involved with the local food bank, maybe even teach a few classes as I sharpened my gardening skills. Some of this plan was just getting under way, when this retiree had a real wake up call. I saw my priorities change nearly over night. The defining incident happened this last Christmas holiday. My adult daughter, her boy friend and their two dogs were visiting me from Portland, Oregon where they make their home. After a few days here in Ashland, snowshoeing, eating, enjoying all the beauty of the mountains and lakes, they took off to visit friends in Bend, Oregon. On the way there, they hit black ice and lost control of the car. It was a terrible accident, but gratefully they all survived which was a true miracle. So, what you ask does this have to do with my retirement plans changing? Well log in later this week and I will tell you more about the changes that come in life and how we, who are of a certain age, deal with unexpected change.

Quality of life in retirement

Boomers are living 30 years longer than people did in the last century. So what are we doing with these extra years after we retire? Some of us are busier than ever with hobbies, grandchildren, travel, and other projects. I often hear my retired friends say, "I don't know how I ever had time to work!" Others find vegetating on a golf course less stimulating than the high-powered careers they have retired from.
How to live well, not just simply live longer?

A very interesting book that was recently reviewed in Costco's magazine ( deals with this subject. It's called "The Longevity Prescription" by noted author Dr. Robert Butler. He suggests that four strategies are extremely important: Getting enough solid sleep, managing stress, nurturing social connectivity, and having a sense of purpose. How each individual incorporates these elements into their lives is a challenge that will pay dividends in terms of the quality of life in retirement.

I find that by setting a goal that involves a lot of effort to achieve can help me kill all four birds with one stone. I frequently sign up to participate in a big event, Cycle Oregon, which is a week-long, 420-mile bike ride. First of all, when I ride my bike 30-50 miles in a day, I have no trouble sleeping well at night! Vigorous physical activity definitely helps manage stress; you can't be worried about anything when you are huffing and puffing and focusing on your cycling technique. Riding solo all the time gets boring, so I have joined a couple of cycling clubs and make arrangements to ride with friends, thus meeting new people and nurturing these relationships. Having a goal like Cycle Oregon gives me a sense of purpose, and adds an interesting dimension to my regular routine of cycling for fitness.

So make your retirement the best time of your life! Check out our web site, for some ideas. If you're a cyclist, visit