Retirement is a topic that pops up quite a bit here at Further. Makes sense, because it’s something on the minds of those of us in our 40s and 50s.
But we’re putting a different spin on it. The term “unretirement” is gaining traction, even for those of us who are 10 to 20 years away.
As a recap, unretirement became a thing thanks to retired Baby Boomers coming back into the workforce due to boredom and a lack of purpose.
Then it expanded to Boomers who aren’t retired yet. Instead of working on their golf game in anticipation of age 65, they’re starting side business and other ventures that will become their work once they leave the career they have.
Our whole lives, we’ve been fed a story. Go to school, get a good job, raise a family — and then when you’re 65, you can do what you want.
How crazy does that sound in general? And then factor in the intense financial obligations our age group faces, while also being behind on retirement savings, and the story doesn’t seem to have the happy ending we were expecting.
For us, though, there’s time to rewrite the story. To create a plan that gives us what we really want sooner, instead of the traditional retirement narrative that’s more of a fiction than ever.
James Clear succinctly summarized a smarter approach in a recent tweet:
Instead of working toward retirement, work toward your ideal lifestyle.
There is usually a path to get there in a few years instead of a few decades.
— James Clear (@JamesClear) November 12, 2020
Wise words, especially given that James is in his early 30s. It’s much easier to start planning to live the life you want now and get there in a few years than it is to save enough to live well for 20 years (or maybe longer) without working.
Personally, my goal is to “unretire” at 55. Once my kids are out of high school, my ideal lifestyle is to see as much of the world as I can, while still maintaining purpose and professional satisfaction. Not too much work, but enough to keep me engaged and to finance the next adventure.
I started executing on this goal last year, and aim to be at a point in 2023 where I can work 3 to 5 hours a day to keep my personal enterprise going and growing while constantly living in new locations.
With the right mindset and revenue model, it’s perfectly doable.
If you’re interested, I discussed this topic and more on a recent episode of the Mastering Midlife podcast. Tune in here.
If not, check out this article to make sure your retirement story is of the non-fiction variety:
The Paradox of Success
A paradox is a self-contradictory idea that can still be true. Over a series of studies, psychologists have found that people who learn to embrace, rather than reject, paradoxical demands show greater creativity, flexibility, productivity, and performance.
Grow Your Fitness
You likely understand the concept of a growth mindset versus one that is fixed when it comes to learning. But at midlife, we can fall into a fixed mode of thinking about fitness because, among other reasons, we’re “older.” Moving away from a fixed fitness mindset requires you to take a deeper dive into your beliefs and stories, the way you talk to yourself, and the actions you take.
Every Breath You Take
“We breathe through our mouths and into our chests, and we do it way too fast. There’s even a phenomenon called email apnea, where multitasking office workers breathe irregularly and shallowly, or even hold their breath, for half a minute or more while glued to their devices.”
I love me some eggs. And I’m sure the eggs in our fridge are selected based on optimal criteria that my wife intimately understands, as she is the voluntary
dictator curator of our nutritional regimen. For the rest of us, here’s what organic, omega-3 enriched, free run, free range, and enriched housing mean.
Scroll down for advice on changing the way you think to improve your well-being. And we’re doing a bit of Pearl Jammin’ in the Flashback (flannel optional but recommended).
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Think and Grow Well
By Trudi Roth
While “thinking outside of the box” is a great way to solve problems, how do you do that when it feels like life’s boxing you in?
There’s no need to run the laundry list of today’s stressors. Suffice to say, the “What me, worry?” stance is nearly impossible to maintain in the dumpster fire that is 2020.
Rather than go up in flames, now’s the time to train your brain to deal with tough situations calmly. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a clinically proven technique to help you flip a switch on negative or flawed thinking and better respond to challenges.
What is CBT?
The crux of CBT is learning to discern between the stories your mind tells so you can make healthier choices. In a recent interview with CBT pioneer Dr. Judith Beck, she explains how misperceptions can fuel misery:
The truth is that if you’re under a lot of stress or experiencing difficulties, how you think about a particular situation may not always be very helpful. Sometimes, your thinking can be inaccurate, or you can get so caught up in your thoughts that it becomes an unhealthy cognitive cycle of either continual self-criticism, obsessive thinking, or depressive rumination.
As someone who used CBT to overcome an early adulting-induced anxiety disorder, I can attest to how easily the fight-flight-freeze impulse kicks in over perceived threats. By monitoring your moods and behavior, you can question your thoughts and respond more clearly and calmly.
Start putting CBT into action by viewing negative thoughts through an observer’s lens. Look for evidence supporting the thought, and consider if you can see it differently. For perspective, ask yourself what you’d tell a friend in the same situation.
Dr. Beck offers several constructive approaches to challenge your thinking:
- Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Dig into the best and worst outcomes. Since extremes are rare, you can now envision coping with a realistic middle situation.
- Control what you can, such as habits, schedules, and importantly, self-care.
- Accept discomfort, and forgo dwelling on negative thoughts. As my mediation teacher says, “Don’t water the weeds.”
- Listen to your body. An intense physical sensation, like a racing heartbeat or lightheadedness (two of my cues), that’s not from exercise or illness, can be anxiety-induced. Consider whatever’s stressing you out most, and see if the physical symptoms diminish. If so, you’ve got your culprit, and if not, keep probing.
And always remember, worry is optional, and wellness is too. The choice is yours if you think about it.
Can You Think Your Way to Wellbeing? (Psychology Today)
Pearl Jam – Even Flow
I consider Pearl Jam’s debut Ten to be a rare perfect album, with Even Flow being the tough pick for my favorite song of the collection. Even more perfect is watching Eddie Vedder fall backwards from the rafters into the waiting arms of the audience. (YouTube)
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