My husband, Chris, and I recently had dinner with a couple we had not seen in about five years. We had a lot of fun catching up on what had happened in the intervening years without talking about why so long had passed without seeing each other.
Several milestone events had happened to this couple — an empty nest as their son went off to college, a daughter getting married, and another one graduating from college. But the biggest change was a huge increase in the couple’s wealth. Decades of hard work had paid off and they are now enjoying the fruits of their labors. The wife is not working and the husband is contemplating retirement. They are building a beautiful and very large new home in the community where they have lived for decades.
Similarly, there had been a few milestones in our lives as well. Chris had retired. My Dad had come to live with us almost two years ago after the death of my step-mother. We continued to split our time between our beloved Rockland and our home in Colorado. A niece had come to live with us for a while and I had launched my newest business venture, What’s Next for Boomers?
In retirement it is easy to judge those without financial resources or to envy those with more wealth than we have. At another time in my life I would have been envious of our friends’ financial success. But I realize I have to run my own race. The choices they made led them to their success. The choices I have made have led me to my joys, sorrows, successes, and failures. I choose to celebrate their success and to celebrate my successes as well.
Being happy for someone else’s good fortune does not take away anything from me. In fact, their success can help me to recognize what I really want and to make different choices. After all, my race is not finished yet and I may just be hitting my stride. If your retirement journey is not satisfying, what do you need to change? Too often, we think we have to do something, to take action. In reality, we first need to change our thinking about the situation.
Albert Einstein wisely said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” That is why we fail so often when trying to make a change. We don’t change how we think about a situation before we jump into action. If our mind doesn’t believe what we are attempting is possible, we are guaranteed to fail. That is why daydreaming about what we want is so important. It is a chance for our brain to begin to envision another future and to begin to discern ways to accomplish it.
Knowing what we want helps us know what we don’t want. That is a good thing to know, indeed.