The 2018 Winter Olympics is almost over. If you’re an early riser, you can stream live the closing ceremony at 6 am Sunday morning, Feb. 25. For the past two weeks I’ve been inspired by the athletes’ commitment to their Olympic goals and athletic achievements. I’ve also been inspired by the commercials during NBC’s coverage of the games. I believe we can take inspiration from these messages to create our best lives in retirement.
“Start Your Impossible”—Toyota
We can all come up with reasons to not start something that we’ve always dreamed about doing. And when we’re retired, it’s even easier to use excuses to ignore that little (or not so little) voice in our head that says, “You always wanted to …”
You might be on a fixed income. You might be in your 60s, or 70s, or 80s. Your dream or goal might seem too big—too impossible. And yet, what if you just started? What if you ignored the negative voices, and acted “as if” it’s all going to work out?
Do something, before you have all the answers. Before you have all the money. Before you know exactly how to do what you want to do. Just start.
“Because I Can”—Diet Coke
I’m addicted to Diet Coke, and evidentially there are a lot of people like me. When people ask, “Why are you drinking Diet Coke before 9am?” this commercial suggests a response, “Because I can.”
There is a lot we can do in retirement that might seem unreasonable or impractical. For example, each month I drive 9 hours (round trip) to clean my dad’s house. I could expect him to do it, or to hire someone to clean. Instead, I choose to do it “because I can.” I’ve learned it’s not about the cleaning. Instead, it’s an opportunity to visit with Dad and show my love through action.
Once we admit to having free time, and not being so busy, there is a lot we can do, because we can, because we’re available. Don’t let soul-sucking “reasonableness” keep you from doing something. Just do it, because you can.
“We’re born to do what can’t be done. Do what you can’t.”—Samsung
What dreams have you placed in a category of “can’t be done?” If there’s anything on your list, now is the time to test these assumptions. The way to do what can’t be done is to just start, in some little way, to move in that direction.
I thought buying a second home couldn’t be done. Still, I started looking online (love Redfin and Zillow!). I met with a realtor, making it very clear from the start that I was “just playing.” Now, three years later, I’m writing from my second home.
“If you’re going to do something, make it matter.”—Hewlett Packard
A lot of retired people simply focus on “keeping busy.” I have a problem with “keeping busy,” which is probably why this advertisement from the 2012 Olympics stuck with me all these years. Don’t just do something to stay busy—do something that matters—to you, to the world, to something or someone!
You don’t have to solve world hunger, unless that’s is what you want do, but whatever it is, give it your all. Satisfaction doesn’t come from the status quo or “good enough.” We might be tempted in retirement to be easy on ourselves, to lower our expectations. But happiness and a sense of gratification come from matching our gifts and skills with equally challenging tasks. Make it matter!
“Thank you Mom”—Proctor and Gamble
Olympic athletes express gratitude for the countless hours, sacrifices, and support they received from parents, coaches, and others who believed in their dream.
Research shows that expressing gratitude is a sure way of experiencing more happiness in life. According to Sonya Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, “Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, avarice, hostility, worry, and irritation.”
Make it a daily practice to write down five things for which you are thankful. Write a letter or make a phone call to someone who has had a positive impact on your life. Even better—deliver this message face-to-face. Focus on the present moment, expressing appreciation for your life as it is today. If you want to be happier in retirement, be more grateful.
Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.