How To DO Retirement Successfully . . . 3 Important Must Do’s

Photo attributed to safeconcerts.com. This photo resource is used for education, criticism or research purposes. I do not derive any financial benefit from the use of this photo.

First of all I mean no disrespect to this couple but their photo illustrates an important point. Is this the look of retirement that you want to project when your time comes along? No–me either. Gratifying retirement experiences are carefully planned–they just don’t happen. The planning stage needs to start 3-4 years before you actually do it:

  1.  To start you need to be sure this is what you want. You need to commit to the idea and for all the right reasons. When I look at the pic above is see folks who didn’t do their planning. Many become addicted to work for 40-45  years. It becomes their identity and all they know. Retirement poses a real challenge because their social structure is completely wrapped up in what they do and how they do it. The main question soon becomes: “If I don’t work what will I do?”
  2. Retirement should not mean the end of something but rather the beginning of something. However, how many folks let the obvious questions about ‘what will I do to not be bored’ and ‘who will I play with’ freeze them in their tracks when thinking about ‘retirement.’ This is where planning becomes so important. I also suggest that we stop calling it ‘retirement’ and start referring to this period of our lives as our ‘new life’.
  3.  DO NOT let $$ determine when you begin to enjoy your new life. Obviously you have to have enough to satisfy your needs but how much is enough? This partially depends on what you want to do. If it’s world travel then you’ll need a bit more. If it’s travelling all the great ‘riding roads’ in North America on your motorcycle then it might take a bit more. The point is money should not dictate when you go. You will never think or believe you have enough.
  4. TIP #1–make sure that you have all your ‘toys’ (motorcycles, boats, golf clubs etc.)  bought and paid for before you begin your new life. If you don’t then that needs to be one of the goals in your preparation.
  5. There is certainly a mental preparation piece that needs to be acknowledged. This new life can be very challenging at first. Remember that you have been working for a long time with routines, habits and coping strategies in place. You wont need them once you walk away from the ‘old life’ but you will need to create new strategies to fill your time. A year or two before you actually walk away begin to think about what you will do when your time is your own.
  6. TIP #2–start to investigate other interests and passions. These can be activities/passions that you have often thought about doing but didn’t have the resources or the time to pursue. Perhaps it’s about getting involved in politics or community programs/projects. Start to think outside the box. That’s important if this is going to be a good experience.
  7. People often comment on the money issues (see #3) but are pleasantly surprised when they realize that they actually spend less money on weekly living expenses than when they were working.
  8. Be sure to discuss your retirement plans with family especially your partner. Do this early in the planning/thinking. If your partner is still working and plans to stay at work for another year or so how does that fit into the overall planning? Will he/she be OK with you being involved in a new life with different friends doing different things. Often times partners can get a bit jealous and envious of your new found excitement. You might find that the ‘honey do’ list has grown dramatically.
  9. TIP #3–be sure to, periodically, ask your significant other how he/she feels about your pending new life. Your decision may encourage your partner to think about their own retirement plans. Be sure to share plans that have changed or new interests and new activities or hobbies you are thinking about checking out. This is a transition for everyone not just you. They need to feel that they are still important and have a place in the ‘new life’ you are or will be enjoying.
  10. Be sure to develop new friendships outside of your former workplace. Start this a year or so before your transition from ‘old’ to ‘new’ happens. This doesn’t mean that you don’t continue on with some relationships from work but if you only associate with ‘old’ buddies you will only share what is going on with them in what was your old life. New friends reflect what is coming up and not what has gone by.

There is much to think about. Start putting some thoughts/plans together about how you would like things to be as soon as possible. If you follow these simple suggestions it will be a great experience. One of the realizations that came to me while I was planning for my new life was I was, finally, going to be in control of my own TIME. What a liberating feeling. I hope all that follow will catch the same buzz.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best, Jim.

Please pass this along to friends and family with thanks.

Comments can be directed to me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com  OR  jimcloughley.com

4 Game Changers We Need To Pay Attention To . . .

A tornado eating a rainbow’–Photographer Unknown to me.

Most would likely agree that the picture above is mesmerising and that it will not be seen very often. Some become awestruck-almost paralysed by the sight of it. It is in that paralysis that all the damage to the rainbow is done, however, and before we know it the rainbow is gone. The tornado, then, moves on like it wasn’t even there.

I find the picture is symbolic of some of the things going on around us right now. Before we know it our lives will have changed and we won’t know how or when that happened. It reminds me of taxes and tolls, rules and regulations. Like them or not they become part of what ‘is’. Such is my concern about the following 4 examples of ‘our tornado eating our rainbow’. In no particular order of importance:

1. Education. So much research has been done to examine the positive connection between a civilized society, lower rates of violence, personal stability, equality, freedom and more stable and sustainable democracies and a strong, well defined, relevant and informed educational system. Unfortunately, for the last 50 years at least and the last 10 years for certain, we have been moving to the edge of becoming less relevant in the economic world and less likely to be held up as a shining example of democracy and prosperity. Our children are dangerously close to being unprepared to compete for world class employment opportunities because our educational system has not kept up to date on what is needed to compete with regards to skill development. (Much more on this to come in future articles). We, and parents in particular, need to insert ourselves into the process of developing new curricula and re-defining learning environments that are much more relevant and appropriate for our children so they will, at least, be better prepared to compete on the global stage.

2. Freedom of the press. I am NOT suggesting curtailing the function of the press. Freedom of the press is a must if any nation/society wishes to protect and enhance their freedom to speak and decide. But what I see happening is the press is now in a place where it must compete for readership–for their ‘piece of the pie’ and they are losing that struggle. The Internet and social media have all but stabbed the free press directly in the heart and it is bleeding to death. Readership is way down. The printed media is almost extinct certainly when we compare it to where it was just 10-15 years ago. So now the press has taken to sensationalism and printing more innuendo than facts. I have always maintained that the press needs to report the news and not attempt to create the news. Consider this example.

If this story is true than we need to ask ‘what is the Toronto Star’ doing printing a story like this WITHOUT FIRST CHECKING THE FACTS? Not sure I want this media outlet reporting my news. Freedom of the press must be absolute and that means diligent as well as honest and truthful.

3. Freedom to speak your mind:  I want to be perfectly clear here. I am not nor would I ever  consider following Donald Trump anywhere for anything. BUT. I do respect his right to be an idiot and to try to convince people to vote for him. As much as he deserves to be removed from the race to be president he also has a right to approach that goal however he may within the laws of the land.

When I look deeper into the possible up-side of his candidacy I’m thinking that we-and I say Canadians, Americans and all lovers of freedom and democracy for that matter, need to pay attention to what is happening. DT represents all that is awful in someone and for him to run for president and actually stand a chance to be elected speaks volumes about what is wrong with the current system. That aside I support his right to be absurd. In this case the American people will make that distinction, hopefully, in November. It’s not the Trumps of this world that frighten me but rather those behind the scenes-the power brokers-that 1% that we hear about who control an enormous amount of the wealth. Those are the ones we need to watch. We need to be sure that they never have enough control and power in the system to hurt us more than they have. We need to stay vigilant and we need to be much smarter in the voting booth regarding who we entrust to do our bidding. We still have the power of the ballot box to do our speaking but for how long?

4. Political Correctness: My favourite pin cushion. This is a movement that has fought great fights and is responsible for so much good in the world. The principles and the dedication shown by the believers/activists has brought light to otherwise dark, dangerous and ruthless places. BUT. It is time for PC to go away now. People–good people need to be able to voice their opinions without fear of being centered out or identified as racists or antagonists just because we might disagree with what someone else says or believes. We cannot survive if the adage “if you are not part of the solution then you must be part of the problem” is in play.  Isn’t this the very same principle that PC fought on in the first place. Hmmm. Confusing. Let’s not allow PC to determine all of our human rights and the outcomes of all of our disagreements.

Anyways, that’s how I see it. All the best and thanks for dropping by, Jim.

Comments are always welcome-please connect with me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

Please send this along to family and friends as well–with thanks.

Do We Need To Limit Our Freedom? . . .Just Askin’

The dictionary explains attaining a sense of self-empowerment, which is accepted as a true measure of freedom, this way:  “deriving the strength to do something through one’s own thoughts and based on the belief that one knows what is best for oneself'”.

Quite a while back I wrote a piece on freedom and asked the question how ‘free’ did people feel? I am now ready to concede that the only true freedom we experience is that which we realise when we sleep. Consider: there are no rules to observe when we sleep. There is no exasperating political correctness to live with. There are no feminists telling us how to live our lives according to them when we sleep.

We are/have surrendered some of our rights and freedoms to others and are being told we do this because . . . . because that ‘s what we do. That’s who we are as good Canadians.                             What a load of bull . . . t. This should not happen and certainly not at the expense of us not being able to exercise OUR beliefs in what’s in OUR best interest and religion, education and social justice to name three biggies, contribute to how we measure OUR freedoms. We wage war on other nations in the name of ‘freedom’, we destroy our environment to make more money yet we have no freedom to say ‘no’ to pipelines and windmills. We judge, we discriminate, we punish some and excuse others for similar behaviours in our justice system sacrificing freedoms in the process. One of the more perplexing freedoms or non-freedoms revolves around the right to choose when and under what circumstances we die. That decision needs to be a basic and fundamental human right with the freedom to make it yet it has been taken from us or denied to us? No one nor any government has the right to determine that FOR us. NOBODY. I alone should be able to determine what and when something is, or is not, in my best interest. This is the ultimate freedom. We can also see how our freedoms are becoming less defined.

With our efforts at trying to create a greater sense of freedom I think we have lost what freedom actually is or is supposed to represent.  The first thing we need to do is to stop trying to legislate true freedom. True freedom is the result of an inside job, well done, by each of us. Freedom is supposed to lead us to an inner peace of some kind. However, we have become monocular regarding our vision of freedom. We enact laws and rules to ensure that all folks are getting along and of course we know that that is not the case at all. It doesn’t work. The increase in violence and mass murder suggests that approach doesn’t work.

We cannot pursue wealth and power without limiting others’ freedoms and yet we have allowed the pursuit of wealth and material things to become our driving force and freedom has become a casualty of this move.

Educated people are much more difficult to manipulate than the uneducated masses. The ability and opportunity, then, of seeking and driving our own self-empowerment is often dependent on our exposure to education. Being able to gain an education is THE most important thing we need to protect if we are to enjoy any depth of freedom in our lives. This is not any more true than in the poor nations of the world. That’s why they will never enjoy their freedom.

As I pointed out above we need to look after our right and ability to promote our own self-empowerment. This is one of the ‘must do’ lessons that we need to impart to our children. At all times and in all circumstances you must protect and fight for, if necessary, your right to self-empowerment.

However, freedoms and our right to freedom-to be all we can be and to enjoy the freedom to share that vision for all may very well be our downfall. The freedoms we enjoy are made available to everyone. Yet how much of the psychological, spiritual, emotional and basic human freedoms we try to extend to other people, will likely be used against us in some way to weaken what we have and to thwart the pursuit of who we want to be?

So the question begs an answer: Do we need to limit our freedoms and our expectations of what freedom needs to be so that we can provide more of an equal and just playing field and so that we cannot be defeated by having our detractors using our own ‘rules’ against us to undermine our basic way of life?  Let me know if you have a thought or two on the subject.

How do we protect/grow our freedom?

1. We ensure that the education offered to our children is of value and usefulness in today’s world and that the curriculum is designed to service a learner centred approach. Currently it is not.

2. Never allow anyone who tells you they have all the answers to all the problems the power they are asking for in order to do it. All they seek is the ability to control you and to limit your freedom.

3. We need to pursue our own freedom plan but work to encourage as many others as possible along the way. We cannot advance our freedoms at the expense of others.

4. Consider choosing a clear idea of what it means to become all you can be and then accept no   attempts to sway you otherwise.

Anyways, that’s how I see it.

All the best, Jim.  Any comments can be sent to me: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Please forward this article to family and friends-with thanks.)

 

Move Over L,G,B,T,Q,I,A etc. . . . There’s Another Player In Town

To be fair to everyone, there needs to be another ‘letter’ in the mix that represents a large number of people as well. That letter is “H” which , of course, stands for heterosexual. Following the massacre in Texas it is more than clear that the time is now to have some definitive discussions around Pride community rights and freedoms and how we can ALL live in the same space without killing each other.

With that in mind I wrote down some of terms and words that need to be explained so that some debate and meaningful discussion can take place. It is essential we are clear about what this mean and what means. Without gaining an understanding of what the conversations need to be about we cannot hope to have an ongoing dialogue about any of this. Whether we like it or not, ALL of us need to be able to reconcile, at least within ourselves, what changes in our social norms means, what the difference is between tolerance and acceptance, and the ways that we describe each other (these people or those people or them). Basic communication strategies suggest that if we are not using words that we all interpret as meaning the same thing then we will have great difficulty making ourselves understood. We are, quite simply, not speaking the same language.

We often use tolerance and acceptance incorrectly thinking that they mean the same thing or close to it. I borrowed these two explanations from a site called ‘Quora’.

“Tolerance is the idea that while you may dislike or are uneasy with something different, you cannot ban, outlaw or otherwise cause it to disappear. As long as no one is forcing you to accept or otherwise incorporate that idea into your lives, you have no reason to stop it from happening in the lives of other people. In short, you may hate it but you have to deal with it.”

“Acceptance is the idea that something different can contribute to a greater understanding of the world as you see it or some other benefit. Thus, it goes beyond tolerance, where you actively work to mix and blend that concept into your lives, living with and practicing that idea.”

Since many subscribe to the idea that sexual orientation is accepted very early in many lives it also follows that many model the ‘H’ choice while others identify with the ‘L’ , ‘G’ or the ‘T. However, what bothers many, especially the ‘H’ types, is the subtle messages that go out to those who may be on the fence, especially young teens, or who may have made their choice, that it isn’t too late to consider an alternate lifestyle. We both know that that does happen and it exists. Advertising executives have been riding that rail for a long time.

So what of the people who identify with the ‘H’? Should they not be included in the conversations about acceptance and expectations and needs to be ‘normal’? Just the word ‘normal’ needs to clarified and accepted by those who will continue the discussions and conversations. Can we agree to a common meaning of the word? Yet the Pride community somehow sees ‘H’ folks as being anti–.  ‘H’ folks are as interested as anyone in voicing what they believe in and what they need to have happen to make sense of their lives and their world. Fair is hearing both sides of the story. To be truthful I think much of this animosity is about the fear of the unknown–what might happen if . . .  The Pride community lifestyle scares the hell out of the ‘H’ folks and they aren’t dealing with that very well. It rocks the ‘H’ world and challenges many long term beliefs about how life is to be lived.

So, we need to have some clear social norms so that people have a sense of ‘what is far enough’. Norms and mores simply refer to behaviour and demonstrations that support the idea of having a sense of order in society. But before we can get on to meaningful conversations with each other about the needs for equality and respect and dignity we first need to determine what those norms look like. The Pride community wants to be seen in a particular way and I don’t dispute the reasoning at all. But the other guys need to be heard as well.

The other axe to grind is how some use their sexual orientation in the work place as a hammer to make their point. Disagree with a particular point of view and someone is likely to yell ‘discrimination’. Now some poor individual finds himself/herself having to defend themselves when all they did was to state their disagreement. This does happen and quickly at times because governments are falling all over themselves trying to be seen as politically correct. 

Quite frankly I think that people need to be a bit more discerning about the messages they put out there. My or your sexual orientation is no one’s business. It is a fact of your life and mine. It is a deeply personal decision-one of the few personal decisions that we still have some personal control over. It is how we have chosen to live our lives. It makes no one more important or special than the next. It does make us different from each other-true enough. Lets talk about understanding the differences. Quite honestly I don’t want to know about someones S.O-I don’t care. I associate with people because of how they treat me and how they treat those around them. I could care less if they are L or G or anything else. I accept and support the idea that we are ALL free to live our lives in a fashion-any fashion we choose without harassment, prejudice or discrimination.

Anyways, that’s how I see it–

All the best, Jim

Comments are welcome if you have something to add. Connect with me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

 

Let’s Remember Remembrance Day

Poppies Remembrance Day

We Will Not Forget

I wonder how many folks will actually take the time to be still and remember those who gave their lives so that we may enjoy our freedoms and our culture. Many think that Remembrance Day is about keeping the war in the front of people’s minds and the sacrifices. For me it is remembering that so many special people were willing to go off to a foreign land and put themselves in harms way so that freedom would not be extinguished. Where does that courage and that selflessness come from in some? The concept is lost on many now. Our young folks are losing perspective because they have difficulty referencing what they have now with those sacrifices which were made so many years ago by so many brave men and women. That’s why we need to continue to do all we can to keep the spirit of Remembrance Day alive. As the number of veterans decreases it is more critical than ever that we don’t forget.

I have included a link which I hope works. I is a song and video (about 4 minutes) created by a Canadian man–Terry Kelly who captures the it all–(If there is an ad attached to the video please forgive it, click to move by it and enjoy Terry Kelly)—Jim

www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kX_3y3u5Uo

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