Thoughts before leaving Mazatlan:
There was a very interesting reception waiting for us throughout our recent visit to the Old Country (California). We received a substantial number of comments, or should I say thanks, for the Nanjo Chronicals. I'm not speaking of the very nice compliments I receive from time to time. These comments were thanks for the empowering force that the Ahoy-narratives have become for many. As one Berkeley relative put it most succinctly, You have shown us a person can live his dream+ADs- dreams can become reality. He, as well as other friends and relatives, spoke of a new outlook for their own retirement plans. Some of those close to our age are becoming serious about beginning the transition to retirement. Others, further from my age are desirous of the key benefit of retirement - the freedom of time. Everyone would like to be able to have that freedom.
As the oldest of my generation of cousins and extended family, I welcome the role of being the vanguard . After Mom's funeral, I had a conversation with Rev. John while manning a church booth at the Pleasanton Pasta Festival. He shared his feelings upon the death of his last surviving parent. I realized that I was now the head of the Family, the leader, he said. That was my final transition from child to elder. This is probably my subliminal motivation for these e-logs. I am setting an example out for all of you to observe and adjust to your own personal tastes and dreams. There is fear to overcome, fear of change. There are standards to be maintained, expectations to be lived up to, definitions of successful retirement to be pondered, ego to be managed and bills to be paid. I will try to summarize over 20 years of planning and self-education for retirement into key steps that led to our current dream-realized.
Don't go from a full, 50+-hour workweek, high pace, and high stress job straight to a do-nothing life. You'll kill yourself Take it in steps like part time work and/or consulting. Remember that I left my computer career and became self-employed for over ten years to wean myself from the stress where I had excelled. Then we moved onto Nanjo for two years before we sold the house. We whittled down our wardrobes and other possessions. We went from two cars to one car, and then to no car. We were exercising behavior modification on ourselves+ADs- teaching ourselves to adapt in a careful process.
This brings us to the second most important point - don't use someone else's retirement as the definition of successful retirement+ACIAIQ- Not ours, not a friend's nor a parent's will be healthy for you to target. I am cautioning you about thinking playing golf daily, traveling via motor home or boat, flying to foreign countries, moving to a perfect retirement location, reading books, painting or anything others do necessarily is what's best for you. If you have never done any of these or never wanted to do any of them, DON'T FORCE YOURSELF Your retirement is successful when you allow yourself to do what YOU have dreamed about doing, what you would like to do it if you had the time.
There is nothing wrong with your considering continuing to work within your career a few days or even a few hours. However, I suggest you work in an area that is the most enjoyable for you. Remove the stress, the people-management, the length of the work day, the company you work at or whatever reduces the pleasure you get from working. Hey If doing what you are currently doing gives you happiness and personal fulfillment, keep doing it.
Standards need to be your own. Other people's theories may lead you to erroneous expectations. I've heard many times, You can only read so many books. I'm not tired of reading yet Many cruisers like to stay in marinas, we don't. Many cruisers have bigger boats, faster boats than Nanjo. +AFs-But then, Nanjo is bigger and faster than others.+AF0- Many cruisers like to eat on shore frequently, like to party constantly, do this or do that. We find plenty people who prefer to do the sorts of things we enjoy doing. You don't have to be accepted by everyone and it's OK to prefer other people. There are plenty of people who are compatible with you. It isn't the size of your boat or house, the clothes you wear, your net worth or past success that establishes who will be your friends. Nancy has been amazed that before retirement, people asked, What do you do? That hasn't been even a fleeting topic when meeting a new couple during our retirement.
We have just one thing to say about expectations: Expectations lead to disappointment and disappointment leads to disillusion. Make plans broad and soft . If you don't like the outcome, dump the plan or try it another time. Timing is everything.
This segues to one of my tips for success: When you are dreaming about what you would do with freedom of time, conditions which would make working fun again, places you would like to go or things you would like to learn more about, define at least three examples. This worked wonders for decision making in my past-life and will help you plan, self-motivate and prepare for retirement. It helped us eliminate fears, excite us about the possibilities, give us purpose for planning and relieve our egos. Think of this tip as diversification. Just as with financial investments, diversified thinking and planning assures more happiness. I call the use of one idea or plan, black-and-white thinking. Diversified planning is thinking in pastels.
The greatest fear is financing your retirement. This is something you have to do your own work on. I mean the fear. Everyone has a magic number that represents financial freedom. But still they can't stop earning a wage because, What if something happens? I ask you to remember diversification. There is no perfect investment to insulate you from day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month market fluctuations. There doesn't have to be Diversification doesn't mean everything goes up. Rather it says that part goes up while other parts go down, with a net positive change. Diversification where everything goes up or everything goes down is not diversification but different forms of one kind of investment. I firmly believe annual appreciation of more than 10+ACU- is a reasonable forecast for a diversified portfolio. As a matter of fact, the two retirement accounts I oversee have achieved this and more. But the point here is you must develop confidence in your investments. Seek the help of a financial advisor and read everything on retirement finances you can find. It will take a big dump in the Dow or NASDAQ to prove the strength of your portfolio to you.
As Nancy likes to say it, Is this a good thing or a bad thing? If market turmoil has minimum impact on your investments, you have learned something. If it has a major impact, you have learned something else. I feel neither is bad. You can adjust. A flexible attitude is strength, a powerful weapon against the unforeseen, the unplanned, and the calamity of great proportions. Nancy's flexibility, after we were shocked by the sudden event of my insulin-dependent diabetes, is a testament to her strength and belief that she/we could adapt.
It also shows that a dream can withstand challenges. Build your dream and prepare to enjoy life as never before - These are the Good Old Days
Thank you for the compliment.
Crew of Nanjo