Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year, New Challenges

Like much of the blogosphere, I've spent the last few weeks considering where I want life to go in the coming year, and what changes I want to make.  As always, this is a challenging task. Some folks choose a word to guide them in the coming year, some a theme and some a list of goals (often massive).

The past couple of years, I've listed specific goals-and even with writing them down, somewhere along the line some of the changes I had hoped to make, or experiences I wanted to add, fell by the wayside.  Certainly some of this was because of the extremely large change I made two years ago.  Still, this year, I did want to do something a bit different.  I asked myself some basic questions ( such as, how do I want to be spending my days?) and then came up with some simple mission statements, for lack of a better term.  This are broad areas that are important to me, and obviously each of these mission statements will only be fulfilled by taking smaller steps

I also decided that each month I will concentrate on a specific area.  This does not mean that other goals and adventures will not be met, just that I'll concentrate each month on one habit or area that I believe will improve my life. In January, I expect that to be meditation and prayer.

I still need to fine tune these mission statements , but as we begin the new year, these are the general guidelines that I hope will move me in the coming year-in no particular order:

1.  The greatest gift I can give my family and friends is to take care of myself first. In all aspects.  Just like the old save yourself first airline advice, I am not good to anyone if I don't look after me first.  This is true of the energy and ability that I have working with the homeless, the ability to do things with friends, travel,  or the ability to do things with, or help my children.

2   Life is more interesting and fulfilling when I am challenged on a fairly regular basis. I'm never going to run a marathon, and have no interest in doing so.  Still taking up the disciplines of say, daily meditation and yoga are challenge of a different sort of way.  And learning new things and skills have value. My first challenge will be either metalworking or  woodcarving-and we'll hope I come out alive!

3.  Failure is an acceptable option, or, it's the journey, not the end result.  In other words, at the end of the year I may still speak atrocious French, and after paying for a metalworking class, it may not be "my thing" in the long run.  Either way, the learning and exploration have their own reward.  The same is true of  travel experiences or other life experiences.

4.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, at any pace.  Just as the above mentioned challenges have value in retirement, so do opposite experiences.  Sitting in my back yard for two hours enjoying the beauty of my yard and watching the playing dogs (and perhaps reading a book), is not wasting time.  Down time is as important, if not more so, as other time.

5.  There is a direct correlation between satisfaction in my life and my ability help others.  This is a correlation that I have not followed through the way I would like in the past year, as I have spent time getting to know the area and settle in.  I need multiple, regular opportunities to volunteer for and with those in need and those items need to enter my life again. My challenge is to find ways to fulfill this need while still respecting the need in number seven below.

6.  Spirituality is a large part of my life and being. I need to find more ways to explore that daily, weekly and monthly.

and finally............

7.  Spontaneity is the elixir of life.  The advantage of being retired is deciding to jump in the car and drive to Jackson hole, or go visit my daughter in Texas for Easter, just because.  I hope to remember this, every time I say, I can't.
There you have it.  Every one's life and goals are different, and certainly in order to meet these mission statement, goals will have to be set and met.  This, as they say, is the general guideline for the coming year.  I'll let you know how I plan to meet these goals month by month (or not).

And so it goes, this new year of retirement!


  1. Barb, I like your mission statements. I'm reminded of an interview I saw with Martin Short. He listed categories that he grades himself on quarterly - self, significant other and children, family of origin, friends, finances, creativity, discipline and lifestyle. I think your mission statements are reflected in his categories beginning with looking after yourself. I think it's so important to give ourselves permission to enjoy life. And spontaneity spoke to me. How often do I think of the reasons why I can't do something rather than thinking of "Why not?"

  2. I have recently retired from 45 years of teaching English. My largest need is to keep myself, to use your word, challenged. My husband and I have sort of given ourselves
    thus tear as a sabbatical, and have lots of things, mainly travel, planned. But I keep wondering about what will happen next. I have started to read blogs which are about what it feels like to live a retired life (rather than advice blogs, useful as they are). I am trying to write a blog myself in hopes it will help me figure it out. I really enjoyed coming upon yours. You write very well, which is something I like.



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