Successful retirement requires balancing rest with activity

The key to a successful retirement can be found in maintaining a balance of rest and involving yourself in engaging activities.

I know that to be very true. Living in America’s first planned retirement community, I have discovered the most bitter, unhappy people are those who stay secluded by resting in their homes with no purpose to their lives.

On the other hand, those people who are involved in a lot of activities which get them out of the house and associating with other people are much happier.

Yet, those seasoned citizens who really seem to be living in the sweet spot of retirement are those who are actively engaged in purposeful activities which help others.

Retirement involves exploring new hobbies, forming social connections, and finding innovative ways to use time differently. Using time differently is a biggie. It was generally frowned upon to take naps when I was still working. However, it is part of my daily routine today because getting good rest gives me more energy and sparks creative thinking.

For me, I need to create a schedule, just like I had when I was working, to ensure I stay on point long enough to get important things done.

The problem is that many seasoned citizens talk themselves out of doing things that are meaningful and productive in retirement by claiming they either aren’t good enough or smart enough to do so. Both are lies.

A good friend and mentor, Vincent Pugliese, who actually came up with the suggestion that I start Forward From 50, said he loves to hear stories about older people who “have been through the fire and lived to tell about it.”

He is absolutely right when he notes seasoned citizens have a perspective on life that is simply different. Their perspective is not fueled by youthful energy and wishful thinking. Seasoned citizens are filled with wisdom and perspective because they have been beaten down multiple times in life and always managed to muster up strength and courage to fight again.

Seasoned citizens know what is important in life, often because they’ve wasted enough time to know they need to make their remaining days really count.

In a recent message Vincent sent to members of his Total Life Freedom community, he recalled watching a group of women ranging in age from the late 50s to early 90s. They were exercising together.

The point Vincent made is they were led by a woman who was no spring chicken herself. Yet, she was emphatically teaching her students different ways to move and how to move even better.

“She teaches with confidence and humor and the participants respond enthusiastically,” Vincent wrote.

“Before taking on this work, she could have wondered if she was too old and whether anyone would take her seriously. She could have easily been intimidated by the vision of a young woman, who was in much better shape with more energy, doing what she wanted to do.”

Vincent Pugliese

He is right. We see people with massive followings of millions of people and believe we could never rise to that level, so why even try? Yet, truthfully, you can have the same life-changing impact on a dozen people.

People want to learn from people they know, respect, like and trust.

“The truth is, the ladies at the pool are responding to this teacher because she gets them,” Vincent explained. “She is making suggestions because she knows what they are challenged with. She makes them laugh with jokes a younger woman couldn’t pull off. These ladies related to her as a teacher because she can relate to them as people.”

We have a duty and obligation to share with others our natural talents, learned skills and accumulated wisdom gained over a lifetime of unique experiences.

One of my uncles, Steve Field, recently passed away. For years, he taught very small groups of people how to carve highly-detailed sculptures of birds and other animals. I am fortunate enough to have a roadrunner he created displayed prominently in my home.

By sharing his love of carving with others, he launched dozens of people into a new creative hobby of their own. Because Steve invested his time and talent in mentoring others, his legacy will live on for decades in the items carved by his students.

Steve left a legacy by bringing smiles to the faces of others when he gifted them one of his uniquely hand-crafted carvings. His legacy includes the smiles his students have when they finish their own carvings and give them to other people.

My uncle balanced his retirement with rest by engaging in an activity he loved to do — and supporting a small group of people who wanted to learn what he knew.

I will close by challenging you to do the same thing Vincent urged members of his group to do.

“Don’t talk yourself out of success. Don’t talk yourself out of helping others. Don’t let false barriers keep you out of the areas of life that you would love to be in,” Vincent wrote. “Connect with the people who get you and want what you know or have. If you are still breathing, you haven’t fulfilled your purpose yet.”