I am always fascinated by people who make New Year's resolutions. It is as if there is this one time of year when you are supposed to make plans to change something in your life. I find this interesting when it would benefit us, as well as our communities, if we were setting goals and moving forward throughout all of our lives.
Although setting goals has served me well in my life, I am a little more relaxed about it than I used to be. My expectation is that goal setting will continue to be a part of who I am, especially as I get ready to turn 65 later this year. In this article, I would like to explore the importance of setting realistic goals throughout all life stages.
The Profile of a Boomer
"Each of our acts makes a statement as to our purpose."-Leo Buscaglia
The first wave of Boomers turns 65 years old this year. Many who have postponed retirement will take the retirement step perhaps with less financial uncertainty but certainly with more emotional uncertainty.
Being post World War II babies, we have watched our parents struggle and strive for a better life for themselves and their families. The things that the "Greatest Generation" achieved are no less than phenomenal. As we observed, we learned that it was our responsibility to work hard, continuing the progress our parents started. It could be said that it became a part of our birthright. We worked hard and played hard and changed our environment whenever it was necessary. As a result of our upbringing during these historic times, our generation tends to be high achieving and service oriented. Most of us are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. A successful career has become a staple of our identity. For many of us, our legacy has been leading changes in the civil rights movement, a desire for world peace, ecological shifts and raising profound awareness regarding feminism and multicultural diversity. For many Boomers, turning 50 and 60 wasn't a downer but a positive milestone about what was next.
Unfortunately, even though we have this extremely remarkable profile, our attitudes about retirement are still mainly rooted in the model that our parents retired with. After finding this model unsatisfactory, our generation is not willing to rest on the laurels of our past accomplishments. Instead, a large number of us want to continue to change our world in positive ways.
So, why is it that as we age, some of us equate this life stage with just letting go and coasting on what we have accomplished in our past? This kind of thinking results in us living more in the past and failing to move forward in a new way. I have seen this trend in a number of older people who have already retired. For some, it's hard to change a pattern when there isn't a new model to emulate.
It is up to us, once again, to set the trend for this next phase of our lives so that it will be much more fulfilling than we've seen in past generations. We will have 20 to 30 more years to shakeup, change and infuse energy into our generation's legacy, which will be left for future generations.
What is the best way that you can succeed in harnessing a new retirement model just as you have succeeded in transforming other life-changing movements?
A New Trend
"20 years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the things that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain.
While reading a book entitled Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide by C. A. Miller and M. B. Frisch, I found the above quote by Mark Twain and a lot of positive psychology research showing that those who continue to set goals for themselves in all of their life stages are happier, more hopeful, satisfied and experience more meaning in their lives.
A model that I think works well for many of us is setting goals using the six life arenas model. The Six Life Arenas are:
Health and Wellness
Leisure and Social
As you set goals in each of these arenas, you are building a happier and more satisfying Retirement Lifestyle Portfolio with balance in all Life Arenas.
Many of you are familiar with the SMART model for goal setting--Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. Although this is a very effective model, Miller and Frisch have added some extra components to this model to help us set goals for all life stages, and especially in planning our retirement. Here are some additional characteristics for goal setting. Goals should be:
Challenging--make you stretch and grow
Exciting and magnetic--draw you to what you feel passionate about
Value driven--reflect what's important to you
Create feelings of independence, connectedness, and competence
Intrinsic and purposeful--motivate from within, and give life meaning
Written down--put it in black and white and keep it visible
Reflect commitment and accountability--commitment to yourself and others
Goals help us to stay engaged in life and connected with others. Discover what you feel drawn to and go with that flow. Remember "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."-John Wooden.
Go ahead and set some goals within each life arena and in that process, make the best of your life for the rest of your life!