Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

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leftcoaster
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Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by leftcoaster »

I am taking a sabbatical as a sort of "test flight" for retirement, which I expect to start in earnest toward the end of this year.

As is often discussed here, one's happiness in retirement as well as one's longevity may be correlated with how one spends that time. Lying on the couch all day watching TV might not yield the best outcomes. For some, an Alaskan cruise might rank high on the list.

It occurred to me that the BH community, planners all, could offer feedback on a structured approach to deciding how to spend this time. The rubric I'm envisioning is roughly analogous to what we try to do with an Investment Policy Statement -- externalize the "rules" for decision making so that impulsive behavior can be checked.

In brief, I'm borrowing from metacognition - thinking about thinking - to define the rules for deciding how to decide where I spend my time. Here is what I came up with and I would really love feedback!

------------------

If fulfillment in a task can be measured in terms of Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose, at retirement, the burden of defining these shifts to the retiree.

When one is working, Autonomy is generally constrained by the conditions of employment, for example, the schedule on which one must show up. Mastery is about the progression of a career: at some point one attains and applies it. And Purpose is, to some degree, about the alignment of one’s values with the mission of the organization: does what I do have meaning?

One of the privileges of a well-funded retirement is freedom: I can decide how to spend my days. Given that freedom, how do I decide in a principled way? Here are some thoughts about what might guide those decisions:
  • Relationships Does it strengthen these, and if so, which ones?
  • Health Does it support this - physically or mentally?
  • Relaxation Is it downtime or strenuous / stress inducing?
  • Values Is it in line with my values?
  • Service Does it help others or just myself?
  • Challenge / Growth Is it challenging? Does it stretch me?
  • Frustration Is it hard to progress, such that it may be emotionally draining? Or: might it become political?
  • Cost Is it expensive?
  • Time Is it expensive in terms of time required?
  • Risk Is it dangerous?
  • Entertaining* Is it an enjoyable experience generated by others?
  • Fun* Is it an enjoyable experience generated by me?
  • Utility Is it productive in some beneficial way?
(aside: Fun vs. Entertainment is, to me, about who does the work. Attending a theater play is entertainment; Acting in community theater should be fun)

For example, I might apply this to a activity like Hiking with a Friend, as follows:
  • Relationships Yes, I'll be spending time with a dear friend.
  • Health Yes - it's exercise and also an opportunity for mindfulness
  • Relaxation Depends on the hike -- can be strenuous!
  • Values Yes, it promotes contact with nature
  • Service Not really of service to others, unless I stop and make pitcairns
  • Challenge / Growth Yes if I take on progressively more challenging trails/distances
  • Frustration No
  • Cost No, if I hike locally
  • Time Yes, it can be an all day activity.
  • Risk It can be if I take more technical trails
  • Entertaining No
  • Fun Yes
  • Utility No
What's missing here?
livesoft
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by livesoft »

I think whatever one does or decides to do or not to do changes continually, so that it is difficult to hit a moving target. Therefore, I just never think or plan much of anything. It is more fun to figure it out as one goes. But more power to you! It could turn out to be an exercise in frustration which sounds like work to me and not retirement.

BTW, Hiking has Utility is that it is a form of exercise and is quite Entertaining to me at least. So I guess though your point is that all those ratings are individual. I went hiking yesterday with a group of people that I had never gone hiking with before. Lots of interesting to me discussion with a few of my fellow hikers. This leads me to ask you: What do you do for living now that made you want to come up with set of ratings for things you do? Why do you need a principled way of making decisions?

One more thing: The concept of "Time Stops" has come up in a couple of contexts on the theory of well-being.
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Topic Author
leftcoaster
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by leftcoaster »

livesoft wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 10:27 am I think whatever one does or decides to do or not to do changes continually, so that it is difficult to hit a moving target. Therefore, I just never think or plan much of anything. It is more fun to figure it out as one goes. But more power to you! It could turn out to be an exercise in frustration which sounds like work to me and not retirement.

BTW, Hiking has Utility is that it is a form of exercise and is quite Entertaining to me at least. So I guess though your point is that all those ratings are individual. I went hiking yesterday with a group of people that I had never gone hiking with before. Lots of interesting to me discussion with a few of my fellow hikers. This leads me to ask you: What do you do for living now that made you want to come up with set of ratings for things you do? Why do you need a principled way of making decisions?

One more thing: The concept of "Time Stops" has come up in a couple of contexts on the theory of well-being.
Definitely individual. And hiking has many forms - going with a friend, solo, a club, my spouse.

As to my motivation - I am new to this post career gig and want to be thoughtful about my time. It’s easy to while the time away on low value activity when I could do things that strengthen relationships, build character, benefit my health, etc. so much as one can benefit from planning meals for the week I anticipate that I can be mindful of how I will spend my time in that week. Am I doing something to take care of myself ? To help others? To stretch and grow?
marcopolo
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by marcopolo »

leftcoaster wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 10:22 am I am taking a sabbatical as a sort of "test flight" for retirement, which I expect to start in earnest toward the end of this year.

As is often discussed here, one's happiness in retirement as well as one's longevity may be correlated with how one spends that time. Lying on the couch all day watching TV might not yield the best outcomes. For some, an Alaskan cruise might rank high on the list.

It occurred to me that the BH community, planners all, could offer feedback on a structured approach to deciding how to spend this time. The rubric I'm envisioning is roughly analogous to what we try to do with an Investment Policy Statement -- externalize the "rules" for decision making so that impulsive behavior can be checked.

In brief, I'm borrowing from metacognition - thinking about thinking - to define the rules for deciding how to decide where I spend my time. Here is what I came up with and I would really love feedback!

------------------

If fulfillment in a task can be measured in terms of Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose, at retirement, the burden of defining these shifts to the retiree.

When one is working, Autonomy is generally constrained by the conditions of employment, for example, the schedule on which one must show up. Mastery is about the progression of a career: at some point one attains and applies it. And Purpose is, to some degree, about the alignment of one’s values with the mission of the organization: does what I do have meaning?

One of the privileges of a well-funded retirement is freedom: I can decide how to spend my days. Given that freedom, how do I decide in a principled way? Here are some thoughts about what might guide those decisions:
  • Relationships Does it strengthen these, and if so, which ones?
  • Health Does it support this - physically or mentally?
  • Relaxation Is it downtime or strenuous / stress inducing?
  • Values Is it in line with my values?
  • Service Does it help others or just myself?
  • Challenge / Growth Is it challenging? Does it stretch me?
  • Frustration Is it hard to progress, such that it may be emotionally draining? Or: might it become political?
  • Cost Is it expensive?
  • Time Is it expensive in terms of time required?
  • Risk Is it dangerous?
  • Entertaining* Is it an enjoyable experience generated by others?
  • Fun* Is it an enjoyable experience generated by me?
  • Utility Is it productive in some beneficial way?
(aside: Fun vs. Entertainment is, to me, about who does the work. Attending a theater play is entertainment; Acting in community theater should be fun)

For example, I might apply this to a activity like Hiking with a Friend, as follows:
  • Relationships Yes, I'll be spending time with a dear friend.
  • Health Yes - it's exercise and also an opportunity for mindfulness
  • Relaxation Depends on the hike -- can be strenuous!
  • Values Yes, it promotes contact with nature
  • Service Not really of service to others, unless I stop and make pitcairns
  • Challenge / Growth Yes if I take on progressively more challenging trails/distances
  • Frustration No
  • Cost No, if I hike locally
  • Time Yes, it can be an all day activity.
  • Risk It can be if I take more technical trails
  • Entertaining No
  • Fun Yes
  • Utility No
What's missing here?
I guess different strokes for different folks.
This approach would suck all the joy out of retirement, and life, for me. My sibling on the other hand, did detailed analysis like this, including a vision board.

Good luck to you.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.
MJS
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by MJS »

Do you include Learning under Fun or one of the other categories? For instance, using/learning botany, geology & meteorology during a hike has been an important part of my retirement. Clouds are wonderful!
livesoft
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by livesoft »

leftcoaster wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 11:21 am As to my motivation - I am new to this post career gig ....
I saw on the forum that some posters are going to take that free Coursera course "The Science of Well-Being." May I suggest you sign up and have at it?
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Northern Flicker
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by Northern Flicker »

leftcoaster wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 10:22 am I am taking a sabbatical as a sort of "test flight" for retirement, which I expect to start in earnest toward the end of this year.

As is often discussed here, one's happiness in retirement as well as one's longevity may be correlated with how one spends that time. Lying on the couch all day watching TV might not yield the best outcomes. For some, an Alaskan cruise might rank high on the list.

It occurred to me that the BH community, planners all, could offer feedback on a structured approach to deciding how to spend this time. The rubric I'm envisioning is roughly analogous to what we try to do with an Investment Policy Statement -- externalize the "rules" for decision making so that impulsive behavior can be checked.

In brief, I'm borrowing from metacognition - thinking about thinking - to define the rules for deciding how to decide where I spend my time. Here is what I came up with and I would really love feedback!

------------------

If fulfillment in a task can be measured in terms of Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose, at retirement, the burden of defining these shifts to the retiree.

When one is working, Autonomy is generally constrained by the conditions of employment, for example, the schedule on which one must show up. Mastery is about the progression of a career: at some point one attains and applies it. And Purpose is, to some degree, about the alignment of one’s values with the mission of the organization: does what I do have meaning?

One of the privileges of a well-funded retirement is freedom: I can decide how to spend my days. Given that freedom, how do I decide in a principled way? Here are some thoughts about what might guide those decisions:
  • Relationships Does it strengthen these, and if so, which ones?
  • Health Does it support this - physically or mentally?
  • Relaxation Is it downtime or strenuous / stress inducing?
  • Values Is it in line with my values?
  • Service Does it help others or just myself?
  • Challenge / Growth Is it challenging? Does it stretch me?
  • Frustration Is it hard to progress, such that it may be emotionally draining? Or: might it become political?
  • Cost Is it expensive?
  • Time Is it expensive in terms of time required?
  • Risk Is it dangerous?
  • Entertaining* Is it an enjoyable experience generated by others?
  • Fun* Is it an enjoyable experience generated by me?
  • Utility Is it productive in some beneficial way?
(aside: Fun vs. Entertainment is, to me, about who does the work. Attending a theater play is entertainment; Acting in community theater should be fun)

For example, I might apply this to a activity like Hiking with a Friend, as follows:
  • Relationships Yes, I'll be spending time with a dear friend.
  • Health Yes - it's exercise and also an opportunity for mindfulness
  • Relaxation Depends on the hike -- can be strenuous!
  • Values Yes, it promotes contact with nature
  • Service Not really of service to others, unless I stop and make pitcairns
  • Challenge / Growth Yes if I take on progressively more challenging trails/distances
  • Frustration No
  • Cost No, if I hike locally
  • Time Yes, it can be an all day activity.
  • Risk It can be if I take more technical trails
  • Entertaining No
  • Fun Yes
  • Utility No
What's missing here?
Don't let retirement activity planning become such a full-time exercise that it becomes your retirement activity.
My postings are my opinion, and never should be construed as a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any particular investment.
lws
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by lws »

Please consider this: Resolve to cherish every moment as it comes.
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GerryL
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by GerryL »

I had long planned to use my 3rd and final sabbatical to pilot test retirement. Take my two months and then return to work for a year before handing in my badge. Then, shortly before the start of my sabbatical, I was offered a separation package that would pay me pretty much for the final year I had planned to work.

I ended up using that final sabbatical to get everything ready to retire, including figuring out my Medicare solution and finalizing my budget. I also took a few brief trips and investigated additional volunteer activities. After two months out, I returned to the office, had cake and ice cream with co-workers, and handed in my laptop and badge. I figured it would take me a couple of weeks to acclimate to my new status, especially since it had happened rather suddenly. I woke up the next morning, and within 15 minutes I was in the groove. Have never looked back.

In the years leading up to retirement, I had kept a list of things I could do once my time was all my own. From small things like organizing my garage and day trips to larger projects like taking classes and travel. I rarely even look at that list. Don't let analysis paralysis prevent you from making decisions about how to use your retirement. Or, at the very at least, be sure to schedule some time for spontaneity.
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leftcoaster
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by leftcoaster »

Not at all worried about spontaneity. When the surf is up I will grab my board and go. Still, I’d like to look back on my 50s and be able to say that I helped others, looked after myself, and learned a thing or three. My thought is that by knowing the purpose my pursuits, I will arrive there in good shape!
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by RickBoglehead »

marcopolo wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 11:51 am
This approach would suck all the joy out of retirement, and life, for me.
Couldn't agree more. Also would probably in retirement seek to avoid those that followed such a process.
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txhill
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by txhill »

leftcoaster wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 4:53 pm Not at all worried about spontaneity. When the surf is up I will grab my board and go. Still, I’d like to look back on my 50s and be able to say that I helped others, looked after myself, and learned a thing or three. My thought is that by knowing the purpose my pursuits, I will arrive there in good shape!
I really like your approach generally. Based only on bad data (aka what I've seen in others who retired before age 45), I think having some structure in your retirement is the key to longevity and happiness. Of course leaving room for spontaneity is great too but I think having some rigor in your approach is very wise. I think overanalyzing though can be tedious so I'd try to cut down your analysis to just the most important few factors, if possible. And only perform this analysis on occasion for each activity, not every time you go for a hike :) Good luck!
livesoft
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by livesoft »

leftcoaster wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 4:53 pm Not at all worried about spontaneity. When the surf is up I will grab my board and go. Still, I’d like to look back on my 50s and be able to say that I helped others, looked after myself, and learned a thing or three. My thought is that by knowing the purpose my pursuits, I will arrive there in good shape!
I hope that one can also look back on their teens, their 20s, their 30s, their 40s, their whatevers and be able to say that they helped others, looked after themselves, and learned a thing or three. One should have already arrived a long time ago before one's retires.

People don't change just because they retire. Their habits, personalities, anxieties, and behaviors are mostly locked in. Retirement is not going to change one as a person. It's too late for that.
Last edited by livesoft on Sun May 09, 2021 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Lynette
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by Lynette »

I find I cannot plan too far in advance as something always seems to crop up. I was learning Spanish and planned to go on several immersion courses in Mexico as I wanted to volunteer in a hospital. COVID changed those plans but I still enjoy talking to my teacher who lives in Mexico City using Skype.

I took a course to become a Master Gardener and really enjoy this. It has given me the opportunity to work on a farm providing vegetables to a food bank. I have learnt a great deal and have met interesting people. I took a course in photography and Photoshop at a Community College and now I can use my skills(in progress) to take photographs of plants and bugs (once I learn how to focus on them!).

A few months ago I wasn't looking where I was walking and tripped on fell on a sidewalk badly hurting my knees so I did not exercise much. Then my information was involved in a few data breaches so I had security issues and finally a scammer demand for money. In a panic I spent several months improving my security. Now I have a Password Manager, Security keys and authenticators. Thanks to those on this website who helped me.

Then I went for a routine injection and found my blood pressure and weight had gone up. I usually swim but am not prepared to go the the gym yet. I ordered a Concept 2 rower and the installer is coming this week. I also bought a scale! So my carefully laid plans all had to change! I don't think one can plan your life too far in advance while working or in retirement.
Topic Author
leftcoaster
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by leftcoaster »

livesoft wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 5:21 pm
leftcoaster wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 4:53 pm Not at all worried about spontaneity. When the surf is up I will grab my board and go. Still, I’d like to look back on my 50s and be able to say that I helped others, looked after myself, and learned a thing or three. My thought is that by knowing the purpose my pursuits, I will arrive there in good shape!
I hope that one can also look back on their teens, their 20s, their 30s, their 40s, their whatevers and be able to say that they helped others, looked after themselves, and learned a thing or three. One should have already arrived a long time ago before one's retires.

People don't change just because they retire. Their habits, personalities, anxieties, and behaviors are mostly locked in. Retirement is not going to change one as a person. It's too late for that.
Of course not. But when free time is unrestricted, being thoughtful about how you spend it strikes me as a worthwhile exercise. Perhaps there are folks here who moved from being purposeful professionals to retirement without a thought as to how to achieve balance, meaning, and joy with all of the extra time. My hat’s off to them!
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leftcoaster
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by leftcoaster »

Lynette wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 5:22 pm I find I cannot plan too far in advance as something always seems to crop up. I was learning Spanish and planned to go on several immersion courses in Mexico as I wanted to volunteer in a hospital. COVID changed those plans but I still enjoy talking to my teacher who lives in Mexico City using Skype.

I took a course to become a Master Gardener and really enjoy this. It has given me the opportunity to work on a farm providing vegetables to a food bank. I have learnt a great deal and have met interesting people. I took a course in photography and Photoshop at a Community College and now I can use my skills(in progress) to take photographs of plants and bugs (once I learn how to focus on them!).

A few months ago I wasn't looking where I was walking and tripped on fell on a sidewalk badly hurting my knees so I did not exercise much. Then my information was involved in a few data breaches so I had security issues and finally a scammer demand for money. In a panic I spent several months improving my security. Now I have a Password Manager, Security keys and authenticators. Thanks to those on this website who helped me.

Then I went for a routine injection and found my blood pressure and weight had gone up. I usually swim but am not prepared to go the the gym yet. I ordered a Concept 2 rower and the installer is coming this week. I also bought a scale! So my carefully laid plans all had to change! I don't think one can plan your life too far in advance while working or in retirement.
These are great examples of thoughtful choices. I’m sorry for the curveballs but am optimistic that you’ll be back on track very soon!
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by Tattarrattat »

It's a thoughtful rubric you've laid out. If this is how your mind works anyway, looks like a great guide. Could be limiting if you overapply the standards and deny yourself something fun because it's not "good for you," like going out for ice cream, or whatever. I saw a similar post from someone who approached it in a different way. They tried to have - as part of every single day - one thing physical, one thing intellectual and one thing spiritual, however one defines those things.
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leftcoaster
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by leftcoaster »

Tattarrattat wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 5:48 pm It's a thoughtful rubric you've laid out. If this is how your mind works anyway, looks like a great guide. Could be limiting if you overapply the standards and deny yourself something fun because it's not "good for you," like going out for ice cream, or whatever. I saw a similar post from someone who approached it in a different way. They tried to have - as part of every single day - one thing physical, one thing intellectual and one thing spiritual, however one defines those things.
That seems like a great way to go at it and I like the simplicity. Thank you for sharing it!
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by Wannaretireearly »

How would you measure change? I recall someone here saying you should do something different/new every 30 days. Keeps your mind and interest level ticking. E.g. a new local hike, new restaurant etc.
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HanSolo
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by HanSolo »

leftcoaster wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 10:22 am What's missing here?
What I see missing here is that you're asking strangers on the Internet about your life issues. Not that it's wrong, but wouldn't you get far more out of talking about it over dinner with friends?

I don't mean doing a detailed analysis with them, just a relaxed, casual chat.

If you don't have those kinds of friends, then that's what's missing... and, sadly, this is relatively common... but you asked what's missing.
james22
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by james22 »

leftcoaster wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 10:22 amWhat's missing here?
Familiar with the Wellness Wheel as an organizing tool?

Emotional = Relaxation/Frustration/Entertaining/Fun
Intellectual = Challenge/Growth
Physical= Health/Risk
Social = Relationships
Environmental
Financial = Cost
Spiritual = Values/Service/Utility

https://www.clarion.edu/student-life/he ... wheel.html (There are better definitions/descriptions of the dimensions, this just an example.)

You might prioritize those activities that address the weaker dimensions.


Nine months in, I've learned that things change once you realize you've a long, long way to go and need to find activities/goals more sustainable.

Spent the first six months of retirement sleeping late and day drinking. Fun, but now into CrossFit and boxing.
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leftcoaster
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by leftcoaster »

james22 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 3:47 am
leftcoaster wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 10:22 amWhat's missing here?
Familiar with the Wellness Wheel as an organizing tool?

Emotional = Relaxation/Frustration/Entertaining/Fun
Intellectual = Challenge/Growth
Physical= Health/Risk
Social = Relationships
Environmental
Financial = Cost
Spiritual = Values/Service/Utility

https://www.clarion.edu/student-life/he ... wheel.html (There are better definitions/descriptions of the dimensions, this just an example.)

You might prioritize those activities that address the weaker dimensions.


Nine months in, I've learned that things change once you realize you've a long, long way to go and need to find activities/goals more sustainable.

Spent the first six months of retirement sleeping late and day drinking. Fun, but now into CrossFit and boxing.
I did not know about that! Thank you very much.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by JoeRetire »

leftcoaster wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 10:22 am In brief, I'm borrowing from metacognition - thinking about thinking - to define the rules for deciding how to decide where I spend my time.
I think you are over-thinking about thinking.

In retirement, you'll have time. There's no need to have rules.
Try lots of things. Don't expect everything to immediately be fulfilling. Eventually, you'll find things that you want to do.
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
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leftcoaster
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by leftcoaster »

HanSolo wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 3:28 am
leftcoaster wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 10:22 am What's missing here?
What I see missing here is that you're asking strangers on the Internet about your life issues. Not that it's wrong, but wouldn't you get far more out of talking about it over dinner with friends?

I don't mean doing a detailed analysis with them, just a relaxed, casual chat.

If you don't have those kinds of friends, then that's what's missing... and, sadly, this is relatively common... but you asked what's missing.
I honestly don’t know what motivates someone to post like this. Is it kind? Helpful? Relevant? Responsive? Nope. It adds exactly nothing in terms of insight and is a poorly aimed and poorly veiled attempt to throw shade.

Look at the post immediately after yours - the person showed me/us that a quite similar and simpler rubric exists and is broadly used. From that, I learned something new.

Be better.
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by Flyer24 »

Topic is not related to finance or investment. Thread is locked.

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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (how you spend your money and your time) and is unlocked to continue the discussion.
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by chiliagon »

Well-being academic here. I’m in philosophy, not psychology or public health. But I interact with those fields and also with sociology, economics, and theology (though less so than with psychology and public health). I think the OP is on a good track here. Across different individuals and cultures, there will be different weightings given to different categories (e.g., relationships, physical health, aesthetic experience, and accomplishment). And that is fine. The OP has a semi-systematic approach on offer here, and that seems to me reasonable. Well-being is a tough concept. It’s hard to pin down, and we all come into well-being research with different theories in mind and different approaches for measurement. Some of us are adamant that this a science and that we can make substantial theoretical progress in understanding the nature of well-being and in measuring it. Others of us are less optimistic: yes, we believe progress is possible, but we ought to temper our expectations; and maybe we should drop the word “science” in this context (or at least be more careful about how we use it in this context). Regardless of the social success or failure of well-being research (I personally am guardedly optimistic about it), it is undoubtedly helpful at an individual level to engage in some reflection about one’s own well-being. Don’t go overboard doing it, of course. But definitely do it to some extent. In simple terms, it’s a matter of setting priorities without being too rigid. And that is always helpful.
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by tm3 »

My pre-retirement research revealed several recurring themes for success, with the two most important (from a mental and physical health standpoint) being 1) having a purpose, and 2) abundant socialization.

#2 has definitely been a challenge since March 2020 but the curtain now seems to be lifting.

At first look, #1 seems like it needs to be somethings very magnanimous or altruistic, like, "I am going to devote the rest of my life to ending world hunger." But the more I looked into it the more I came to believe that the key is not overall scope but that it simply be meaningful/important to the individual -- enough that it is deserving of time spent every day for the rest of one's life. Define it, remember it, and practice it.
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by james22 »

chiliagon wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:03 amWell-being is a tough concept.
Sure, but most definitions are similar (active, multi-dimensional):

The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.

There are two important aspects to this definition. First, wellness is not a passive or static state but rather an “active pursuit” that is associated with intentions, choices and actions as we work toward an optimal state of health and wellbeing. Second, wellness is linked to holistic health—that is, it extends beyond physical health and incorporates many different dimensions that should work in harmony.


https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/what-is-wellness/

“Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness; it is a dynamic process of change and growth. It is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

https://www.pennfoundation.org/news-eve ... hat-works/
When people say things are different, 20 percent of the time they are right. John Templeton
chiliagon
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by chiliagon »

james22 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 9:23 am
chiliagon wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:03 amWell-being is a tough concept.
Sure, but most definitions are similar (active, multi-dimensional):

The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.

There are two important aspects to this definition. First, wellness is not a passive or static state but rather an “active pursuit” that is associated with intentions, choices and actions as we work toward an optimal state of health and wellbeing. Second, wellness is linked to holistic health—that is, it extends beyond physical health and incorporates many different dimensions that should work in harmony.


https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/what-is-wellness/

“Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness; it is a dynamic process of change and growth. It is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

https://www.pennfoundation.org/news-eve ... hat-works/
Thanks, James22. I agree that well-being is multi-dimensional and that this contributes to its being a difficult concept to understand. I also partly agree on the "active" point: I think some of the components of well-being involve activity, as opposed to passivity. But passivity matters too: positive feelings are passive experiences, and many positive feelings enhance well-being.

Even though you and I might largely agree on the nature of well-being, there are many very smart, well-informed people that would deny (a) that well-being is active and (b) that well-being is multi-dimensional. For instance, many hedonists in philosophy and psychology are of the view that well-being is one-dimensional (i.e., it is simply pleasure, understood as positive affect) and that it is an entirely passive phenomenon. I think these people are mistaken, but showing that they are mistaken is not easy (i.e., tough). It's not that hedonists say that other categories of things such as relationships, autonomy, purpose, and "active" choices have no bearing on well-being. Indeed, they admit that these things often cause one to feel pleasure and that these things therefore indirectly contribute to well-being. But still, they say that it is pleasure alone that directly contributes to well-being (or, perhaps better put, that just is well-being).

I'm procrastinating from my job, though, so I'm going to have to sign off for the rest of the day. Sorry about that!
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by leftcoaster »

To give a specific example of how I'll activate this rubric... I expect to spend some time volunteering. There are lots of ways to do that, so how do I decide which one to undertake? I'd gravitate toward something that is "hands on" (direct service) rather than administrative -- no desk work -- and that stretches me, like a Habitat for Humanity project or being a docent who has to learn a subject matter well enough to field questions. I'd likely choose something that is oriented toward adults, maybe outside, and with lots of walking -- a botanical garden. I'd be a lot less into a zoo with parents not supervising their kids :). An art museum, while not outside, is more of a mental stretch opportunity.

I would refuse to join any non-profit boards because, in my experience, that's the best way to get frustrated as many of those are not very well run and there's little personal growth in those experiences.
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by jabberwockOG »

My primary goal in retirement is having fun. I don't need any more complexity or detailed analysis in terms of deciding how to spend my days and weeks. If the activity is not fun or seems in any way like work or a chore, I refuse to do it. I give highest priority to playing various racquet sports, as well as taking various exercises classes - all of which I enjoy tremendously. I also do a fair bit of volunteer work (manual labor exclusively) for a local charity but even in that activity I will only do specific tasks that I enjoy doing.

My guiding principle in retirement is that if an activity seems or feels in any way like work, I won't do it. It has served me well over the last 6 years.
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by IMO »

leftcoaster wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 11:21 am
livesoft wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 10:27 am I think whatever one does or decides to do or not to do changes continually, so that it is difficult to hit a moving target. Therefore, I just never think or plan much of anything. It is more fun to figure it out as one goes. But more power to you! It could turn out to be an exercise in frustration which sounds like work to me and not retirement.

BTW, Hiking has Utility is that it is a form of exercise and is quite Entertaining to me at least. So I guess though your point is that all those ratings are individual. I went hiking yesterday with a group of people that I had never gone hiking with before. Lots of interesting to me discussion with a few of my fellow hikers. This leads me to ask you: What do you do for living now that made you want to come up with set of ratings for things you do? Why do you need a principled way of making decisions?

One more thing: The concept of "Time Stops" has come up in a couple of contexts on the theory of well-being.
Definitely individual. And hiking has many forms - going with a friend, solo, a club, my spouse.

As to my motivation - I am new to this post career gig and want to be thoughtful about my time. It’s easy to while the time away on low value activity when I could do things that strengthen relationships, build character, benefit my health, etc. so much as one can benefit from planning meals for the week I anticipate that I can be mindful of how I will spend my time in that week. Am I doing something to take care of myself ? To help others? To stretch and grow?
OP, on the one hand, I think you're formally overanalyzing each "thing/activity" you would be planning. However, most people do analyze what they decide to do or not do in both retirement (and pre-retirement). Common example as you gave is the decision on if/what to spend time volunteering. I just don't think people formalize everything on paper. If that's how you roll in life with a full decision spread sheet/matrix, then I suppose that's fine as that's your thing. One thing I see between myself being retired and a spouse still working part time who is considering more and more also going fully retired is the ability to start to learn to not stress out about every day one is away from work. Just learning to relax and enjoy the day. I do think that takes time.

The thing I find harder to deal with is the concept of what it means when in retirement you can no longer continue to do the activities you once enjoyed. Using your hiking example, how does one work through the issue of no longer being to able to hike due to health reasons anymore? These things don't always just come into play when your very elderly.
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by RickBoglehead »

jabberwockOG wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 11:15 am My primary goal in retirement is having fun. I don't need any more complexity or detailed analysis in terms of deciding how to spend my days and weeks. If the activity is not fun or seems in any way like work or a chore, I refuse to do it. I give highest priority to playing various racquet sports, as well as taking various exercises classes - all of which I enjoy tremendously. I also do a fair bit of volunteer work (manual labor exclusively) for a local charity but even in that activity I will only do specific tasks that I enjoy doing.

My guiding principle in retirement is that if an activity seems or feels in any way like work, I won't do it. It has served me well over the last 6 years.
This I like! :wink:
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by james22 »

chiliagon wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 10:17 amEven though you and I might largely agree on the nature of well-being, there are many very smart, well-informed people that would deny (a) that well-being is active and (b) that well-being is multi-dimensional. For instance, many hedonists in philosophy and psychology are of the view that well-being is one-dimensional (i.e., it is simply pleasure, understood as positive affect) and that it is an entirely passive phenomenon. I think these people are mistaken, but showing that they are mistaken is not easy (i.e., tough). It's not that hedonists say that other categories of things such as relationships, autonomy, purpose, and "active" choices have no bearing on well-being. Indeed, they admit that these things often cause one to feel pleasure and that these things therefore indirectly contribute to well-being. But still, they say that it is pleasure alone that directly contributes to well-being (or, perhaps better put, that just is well-being).
Well, yeah. But that perspective isn't actionable.

If it's passive, it leaves him subject to chance. And what if he's unhappy? If it's single-dimensional, it last only as long as the high. It misses cost/consequence.

Seems better to adopt the Wellness perspective that one can actively pursue happiness (even better, the Stoic perspective that happiness is a choice).
When people say things are different, 20 percent of the time they are right. John Templeton
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by james22 »

jabberwockOG wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 11:15 amMy guiding principle in retirement is that if an activity seems or feels in any way like work, I won't do it. It has served me well over the last 6 years.
If you had to care for an elderly parent or sick child?

Even though it would feel like work, I'm guessing you'd do it. And feel good about it.
When people say things are different, 20 percent of the time they are right. John Templeton
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by Fallible »

"Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement"

Whew!

Actually, I looked at retirement as a time to be free from all that, to not worry about it or even think about it (and I tend to be an overthinker who even overthinks overthinking).

But to each his own, although I do think that once you've decided you have the money to retire, it may be time to use at least some of the freedom that time gives you to go with your instincts, whims, notions, and spur-of-the-moment thoughts without forethought (all within reason and the law, of course. :happy ).

I've been retired many years now and did take a sabbatical before doing so and it eventually led to part-time work that I continued for many years into retirement. It was the part of my first career that I enjoyed the most and always hoped to focus on in retirement. With the newfound time and freedom of retirement, more new interests naturally popped up and one led to a fun retirement hobby.
"Yes, investing is simple. But it is not easy, for it requires discipline, patience, steadfastness, and that most uncommon of all gifts, common sense." ~Jack Bogle
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by HanSolo »

leftcoaster wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 7:21 am I honestly don’t know what motivates someone to post like this. Is it kind? Helpful? Relevant? Responsive? Nope. It adds exactly nothing in terms of insight and is a poorly aimed and poorly veiled attempt to throw shade.
I'm not looking for argument or debate, but since you asked me a question, I will respond: "yes". I offered my sincere opinion on the question you asked. It's OK with me if you reject it. Live and let live.

I posed a question to you and I'm still interested to know your answer.

Your conjecture about my motivations is not accurate. What motivated me was not to throw shade but to throw light on an issue that usually doesn't get enough of it (e.g., see the links below).

It's kind of interesting, however, that you singled out my post when several others were perhaps more critical than I was ("you are over-thinking about thinking", "you're formally overanalyzing", "This approach would suck all the joy out of retirement, and life, for me"), and also considering that my input was actionable.
Be better.
I'm doing quite well, thank you. But perhaps I can do better on this topic by providing links to articles that go into more depth relative to what I was talking about. Maybe you'll find them interesting, maybe not, but others who are interested in this topic and are reading this forum with similar questions might benefit.

https://www.aarp.org/personal-growth/tr ... eople.html
https://www.aarp.org/relationships/frie ... _club.html
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... ne/590650/

I hope these articles help to throw light, not shade, on some of the real issues of retired life. If uninteresting or not relevant to you, feel free to ignore.

Good luck to all.
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by Flyer24 »

Let’s stay focused on consumer issues please. Relationship (friendship) is off-topic for this forum.
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

OP wrote:

"...It occurred to me that the BH community, planners all, could offer feedback on a structured approach to deciding how to spend this time. The rubric I'm envisioning is roughly analogous to what we try to do with an Investment Policy Statement -- externalize the "rules" for decision making so that impulsive behavior can be checked..."

In retirement, the last thing I want is structure. In fact, I wasn't much of an admirer of structure when I was working.

I believe in retirement one should embrace impulsive behavior, unless dangerous to body and wallet.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven then I shall not go." - Mark Twain
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by finite_difference »

I think your framework is best for evaluating the benefit of pursuing continuous activities (like hiking regularly) rather than spontaneous one-offs like a single hiking trip.

For example if you have many interests you could think about whether you are still fit enough to continue them, whether you still enjoy them vs the risk, and also whether it’s worth it for your long term goals. Let’s say you had the following “interests” and you feel stressed for time and want to focus more on less things:

-Hiking
-Skydiving
-Downhill skiing
-Cross country skiing
-Drinking alcohol
-Tai Chi teacher
-Swimming
-Yacht club
-Book club
-Art class
-Violin class
-Gardening class
-Learning and volunteering to help preserve a Native American language
-Volunteering to help teach kids about computers
-Learning Spanish

I think you could use your rubric to pare down the number of activities and meditate what is “best” for you. But I wouldn’t use this rubric to evaluate spontaneous activities with friends (a hiking trip). I think for those you’re better off saying “yes” unless you don’t want to continue the friendship or dislike the activity. Cultivate good friendships with good people and don’t take them for granted.
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. - Thich Nhat Hanh
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by finite_difference »

Broken Man 1999 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 3:23 pm OP wrote:

"...It occurred to me that the BH community, planners all, could offer feedback on a structured approach to deciding how to spend this time. The rubric I'm envisioning is roughly analogous to what we try to do with an Investment Policy Statement -- externalize the "rules" for decision making so that impulsive behavior can be checked..."

In retirement, the last thing I want is structure. In fact, I wasn't much of an admirer of structure when I was working.

I believe in retirement one should embrace impulsive behavior, unless dangerous to body and wallet.

Broken Man 1999
I tend to agree with you about the importance and freedom of spontaneous action. However, I think having some structure is nice for some of us since otherwise I would probably just away on the beach* sipping nonalcoholic no sugar Margaritas and browsing Wikipedia/news/Bogleheads.

(*If only I could be bothered to walk outside.)

How many folks in retirement wish they had more structure? Maybe none ;)
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. - Thich Nhat Hanh
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leftcoaster
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by leftcoaster »

finite_difference wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 3:34 pm I think your framework is best for evaluating the benefit of pursuing continuous activities (like hiking regularly) rather than spontaneous one-offs like a single hiking trip.

For example if you have many interests you could think about whether you are still fit enough to continue them, whether you still enjoy them vs the risk, and also whether it’s worth it for your long term goals. Let’s say you had the following “interests” and you feel stressed for time and want to focus more on less things:

-Hiking
-Skydiving
-Downhill skiing
-Cross country skiing
-Drinking alcohol
-Tai Chi teacher
-Swimming
-Yacht club
-Book club
-Art class
-Violin class
-Gardening class
-Learning and volunteering to help preserve a Native American language
-Volunteering to help teach kids about computers
-Learning Spanish

I think you could use your rubric to pare down the number of activities and meditate what is “best” for you. But I wouldn’t use this rubric to evaluate spontaneous activities with friends (a hiking trip). I think for those you’re better off saying “yes” unless you don’t want to continue the friendship or dislike the activity. Cultivate good friendships with good people and don’t take them for granted.
This is exactly my thought. Thank you.
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by hvaclorax »

We are all Bogleheads, so we know that there’s no reward without risk. We healthy athletes can have a heart attack while jogging. Then there’s mountain climbers who die while involved in an activity they believe is worth it even if it costs them dearly. Death should be front and center. None of us can avoid it. HVAC
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by james22 »

finite_difference wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 3:34 pm...stressed for time...
That's been my biggest surprise.

I'd planned on buying a boat and plane (light sport aircraft).

Turns out I have nowhere near the time to do both (and possibly either) after everything else I do.
finite_difference wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 3:34 pm I think your framework is best for evaluating the benefit of pursuing continuous activities (like hiking regularly) rather than spontaneous one-offs like a single hiking trip.
Exactly.

Crossfit, for example, scores higher across multiple dimensions than boating or flying does. And so bumps them out when I run out of time.


Probably wouldn't have guessed that, naively thinking that greater cost somehow meant greater happiness.
When people say things are different, 20 percent of the time they are right. John Templeton
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leftcoaster
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by leftcoaster »

james22 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 4:50 pm
finite_difference wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 3:34 pm...stressed for time...
That's been my biggest surprise.

I'd planned on buying a boat and plane (light sport aircraft).

Turns out I have nowhere near the time to do both (and possibly either) after everything else I do.
finite_difference wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 3:34 pm I think your framework is best for evaluating the benefit of pursuing continuous activities (like hiking regularly) rather than spontaneous one-offs like a single hiking trip.
Exactly.

Crossfit, for example, scores higher across multiple dimensions than boating or flying does. And so bumps them out when I run out of time.


Probably wouldn't have guessed that, naively thinking that greater cost somehow meant greater happiness.
Perfect application
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by jabberwockOG »

james22 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 1:39 pm
jabberwockOG wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 11:15 amMy guiding principle in retirement is that if an activity seems or feels in any way like work, I won't do it. It has served me well over the last 6 years.
If you had to care for an elderly parent or sick child?

Even though it would feel like work, I'm guessing you'd do it. And feel good about it.
Good point - missed that category as we have been incredibly lucky in our family for the last 6 years, but I'm keenly aware that every family has their share at some point. My comments were about how I go about choosing my day to day optional activities in the absence of life's mandatory duties. Taking good care of a sick or incapacitated family member is not an optional behavior.

I am also mindful that I retired a little early at 60 yo and so both wife and I have been healthy enough to lead a vigorous retirement. I am confident we can keep ourselves interested and entertained but finding ways to have fun might get more challenging as the more vigorous physical activities/sports start to drop away due to advancing age and/or health issues coming to the fore. We live in a area with lots of retired folks and have seen people we know "age out" of some of the more vigorous activities and classes.

I tell my friends some who are still working that waiting longer to retire is a choice they may regret. I wish I had pulled the plug at 55 instead of 60. My advice to all - if you have the budget - don't wait.
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Re: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose in Retirement

Post by james22 »

Yeah, retired at 56 and wish I'd done so earlier.

At what age do you see people "aging out"? Hoping I'll have to 75.

I'm an ortho doc who takes care of 100+ people a week x 12 years = 60,000 patient encounters. Here is my observations about the human capabilities (in general, yes there are exceptions):

50 year olds - go like 20 year olds....This is the ideal time to go after it and have fun, Very few health issues that slow you down

Low to mid 60s - "if" you have stayed in shape, can still go pretty hard charging. Have all your motor skills (i.e. will still be a good navigator, boat driver, not fall into the water and die, not slip at Dennys and break a hip). Like to be around young people.

Upper 60s to low 70s - start to get "tired". These people can still be active and in shape but seem to enjoy just chillin'. They seem to have as much fun watching their grandkids t-ball game as watching a bikini contest. This group still hates the cold and likes to bug out in the winter. They also like to be around others their age. They are kinda done with the younger crowd.

Mid to high 70s - not much happening here. Most spend 40 days a year at the doctor. Can't move well. Have some decreased motor skills (wobbly on their feet, rotator cuffs wore out, backs wore out, knees wore out). Somewhat of a ticking time bomb. My active 77 year olds with money take a lot of cruises. I would say less than 5% of them could walk to the marina, prepare the boat, safely operate the boat, dock the boat, tie up the boat and be able to get out of the boat onto the dock.

Over 80....well....They enjoy going to the doctor because it's the only time they get out of the house. When they fall, they break stuff and we have to fix them. So the wealthy ones always winter where there is good medical care (i.e. not Mexico or the Bahamas). Most hang out in Texas, AZ, and FL. Oftentimes it's about this age when they stop going away for the winter because their health doesn't allow.


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When people say things are different, 20 percent of the time they are right. John Templeton
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