What’s the Plan?

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As a reminder (or if you are new here), my job was eliminated after 29 years in the company’s desperate attempt to stay afloat. Well not the entire company, just my division’s R&D department. We had no plan for retirement although there were some nice reasons to hold off until I had 30+ years. But that’s not really a “plan”.

Given our personal financial situation, I don’t have to go back to work. So I’ve been working with this outplacement firm while trying to figure out what my next move is.

As part of that, they had a nice webinar on retirement which I listened to today. They have a very nice professional looking guide book put together to “plan for your next chapter” but the guy delivering the webinar tended to drift off into story time so he kind of had to rush through the ending.

One of the parts I do remember was him talking about a “bucket list” and how it was a good idea to come up with some goals and write them down. Then, he launched into a story about his desire to visit Ecuador and how he got to do that and I kind of starting tuning him out at that point.

And I guess I’m not opposed to making lists and plans and goals and things you’d like to do but I’ve got a slightly different take. I think all too often people expect far too much out of things like this. If I do “x”, then I’ll be happy or if I complete this list my life will be complete. And if you are thinking that way, then I think these things do more harm than good. There can be all kinds of reasons why you don’t end up doing something on a list and if you have wrapped so much importance around it, then it is bound to lead to disappointment. Yes, I suppose it can be a strong motivator but life tosses all kinds of road blocks at you and you have to be prepared to accept those.

See I guess for me the thing is that happiness isn’t something you chase. Obtaining material possessions or that dream job or that big salary or that big house or whatever isn’t going to make you happy if you aren’t happy to begin with. And I don’t have a problem if your goal is to improve your life and then some of these things come along as a benefit but just chasing them thinking they will have some magical impact on your life isn’t the way to go.

And, in the end, I think that this guide is probably a very useful tool – for most people. I’ve done enough reading on personality types to know that mine (INFP) is one of the rarer ones and we tend to march to the beat of a different drummer. So when the book says it uses a “proven process”, I’d like to know how they proved it. Did they have a study where some people used the process and some didn’t and then they had a “happiness score” to prove that people who followed the process were happier in retirement? Or do they have to say this stuff because how valuable would it be if they just said “here’s a process – it may or may not work. Good luck”

One other part of the presentation I remember is that he was talking about going through your lifestyle and thinking about preferences. Then he started talking about a slower pace – do you like to sit and watch nature and the animals playing. Like, dude, you’re just describing how I do spend a lot of my time now. Reading while watching the birds come to the feeder (and then maybe getting videos I can share on Facebook and/or Instagram). Guess I know which box I’d check there.

I guess the big thing that kind of bugs me about this whole process is that it seems to be geared towards those with “big” goals for retirement. “I want to travel the world”. “I want to get involved more with charity …” Stuff like that.

But what if really all I want to do is what I’m doing now. Keep up with the ballroom and keep improving there. Find some time to work out because I like that. Play my games and fantasy sports (baseball and football). Read a lot (hoping I find some better books) including just spending time sitting outside when the weather is nice. Walking the dog. And finding time to just come here and spread my special version of sunshine to whoever wants to read it.

What if that is enough to keep my happy? Just knowing that every day I can wake up and, for the most part, make my own plans. Do I need to be doing something “bigger”? I suppose that would be a “plan” but it certainly wouldn’t use the guide book I was just given.

Well I may use certain sections of this “proven process”. I think there are probably a few good things in there I can pull out even if I don’t have grand plans.

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