Today, I present 4 challenges for you to improve your retirement.
Four Challenges. For You. To Improve Your Retirement. For Free.
To start the challenge, I have a question for you.
How much time do you waste in a day? In a week? In a month? In a year?
What if you were to regain some of time and use it to improve your retirement?4 Challenges For You To Improve Your Retirement Click To Tweet
The challenges which I’ll present below are challenges I’ve personally taken. Sometimes serendipitously (my favorite word), I developed these challenges from personal experience, and think you may benefit if you’re willing to try some of the challenges yourself.
Each challenge will be outlined below. The use of the phrase “Unplug Your TV” in this article is an analogy for “intentionally transitioning any time that’s otherwise unproductive into a more productive use.”
Being intentional in transitioning “unproductive time” into “productive time” (“Unplugging Your TV”) is a different way to think about your approach to life. A different approach to time. I have a reason for presenting these challenges to you. I’ve experienced these challenges in the past 4 months. A brief story from my life will help to put them into context. After the story, I’ll provide examples of how I addressed each of these 4 challenges, drawing from the following story:
How The 4 Challenges Unfolded
4 months ago, I moved into my “City Apartment” for weeknights following the Sale Of Our House in 7 days. It was part of our downsizing plan to set us up for early retirement, and it’s proceeding well. I now spend 3 nights in the city and 4 nights in the mountain cabin with my wife during the majority of weeks. It’s a tolerable “teeter totter” through a few years of our lives, and our goal at this stage is to keep the “Home Nights” slightly overpowering the “City Nights”.
4 nights to 3, the cabin wins that week. Fortunately, the cabin has a winning percentage to date. I hope to keep it that way.
My wife and I have learned long ago that no situation is perfect. We’ve both learned to look for the positives instead of focusing on the negatives, and we’re managing this situation in the same way. We make the best of it, and spend quality time talking with each other every evening on the phone. It’s not perfect, but it’s working.
It’s been an interesting transition, so I decided to write about it, and present you with today’s challenge.
Why I Don’t Have A T.V.
When I first moved into my apartment, I wanted to “cut the cord”, and move to “cable free” TV. I had an old Wii Game I thought I could use as a wireless receiver, and I could be golden for merely pennys a day.
Ah, but it was not to be.
I could spend paragraphs (I won’t) on the Comedy Of Errors that occured as I tried to set up “free TV”. Suffice it to say, after several weeks, 3 orders on Amazon, and the replacement of a “European Style” with a “USA” plug for an Apple TV box (long story)…
…..I Gave Up.
Perhaps by some Grand Design, I had been put into a situation where, for over 3 weeks, I had to spend 3-4 nights a week in my “City Apartment” with “NO TV!!!”.
I Learned To Accept It As A Challenge.
I began accepting reality, and changed my mindset toward the entire T.V. “problem”. I could choose to get angry, or I could take another approach. Rather than get frustrated and obsessed about my lack of a T.V., I decided to intentionally make it a personal challenge.
Intentionally Making Use Of Time
What if I intentionally decided to not have a T.V., and challenged myself to find productive things to do with the newfound time?
That CHOICE to view the situation differently has been a good experience, and I’ve grown from it.
Now, I’m writing about it, with 4 Challenges to you as a result.
Without a TV, I started focusing on things I could control, and being intentional on putting my free time to productive use. My nights started getting busy. The picture below is from my third week without a T.V.. I love that my bike is leaning against an unplugged TV, and find it symbolic of intentionally giving “activities” a higher priority of my time than watching T.V.
By my fourth week without a T.V., I had put my entertainment console up for sale on Craigslist, and sold it to a guy who had plans on turning it into a decorative bench (“a lot of these old entertainment consoles around”, he said). I unplugged the TV, and moved it to the floor in my bedroom, against the wall and out of the way.
After I made the mental shift, I began focusing on “value added” things I could do with time previously consumed by watching T.V. Ever since, my weeknights have been filled with productive activities. Among the list:
- Swimming, A Lot. I found I loved it, and even won a Silver Medal in the #MyOlympics!
- Bike riding with friends after work (friends who I later took on a Mountain Biking adventure).
- Having dinners with co-workers in similar “stranded in an apartment” lives (e.g., relocations in progress)
- Seeking out, with success, podcast interviews and profile spots on other blogs, like this one at 1500 Days to promote my blog.
- Building my social media presence, and relationships.
- Reading, and learning.
- Being introspective, spiritual, quiet.
- Being intentional about staying in contact with friends.
- Intentionally dedicating extra effort to this blog during my “City Apartment” evenings (see pic below).
The results have been dramatic. Following are some key metrics for this site, and how they’ve improved since I’ve converted “TV Time” into a dedicated effort to grow this blog (yes, an 86% increase in Twitter followers!):
The Transition To “NO TV” Is Complete
I realized a month or so ago that my transition to a “No TV” lifestyle is now complete. During the Olympics, I really wanted to watch some of the events. I downloaded the NBC Olympics app to my phone and enjoyed an evening of watching the swimming events, always my favorite Summer Olympics event.
A few nights later, I was working on my blog and got into the wonderful “Flow” of writing. At about 10:00 pm, I realized I had never even thought about the Olympics.
Instead of watching something on TV, I was mentally challenging myself and developed 5 Milestones To Determine “When Can I Retire”. That article has now been read by over 840 people, and it may not even exist if I had watched the Olympics that night.
Instead of watching T.V., I was being productive. I was having fun. I created something that will last.
The Challenge To You
Let me start by saing I am NOT ANTI – TV, in fact I truly enjoy relaxing with my wife on weekends at the cabin and watching our favorite shows together (Check out Blue Bloods on Netflix if you want a GREAT show!).
The point is the use of the “No TV” as an ANALOGY for being intentional in the use of your time. Thinking back through the experiences I’ve had in the past 4 months, I came up with……..
Four Challenges To Improve Your Retirement:
1. Find An Hour / “Unplug The TV”:
Be intentional, and find 1 hour in the next week that you could “transition” from unproductive into productive “No TV Time”. Remember, “No TV” is an analogy for intentionally transitioning any time that’s otherwise unproductive. You don’t have to be radical and intentionally discard your T.V. Just make a choice to find one hour, and put it to use. Wasteful commute? Listen to a podcast. Be creative, enjoy the challenge of finding one hour.
2. Intentionally Chose A Positive Attitude
My wife and I have chosen to focus on the positives of our “teeter-totter” lifestyle, and are encouraged by the fact that it’s a bridge strategy to an early retirement. When faced with my T.V. “problem”, I chose to accept the situation as a challenge. Both were intentional choices.
You face the same choice every day, as you decide what attitude you’re going to use when you face the ongoing issues of life. Chose A Positive Attitude, it’ll improve your life. Personally, I think God intended for us to enjoy this life, and it was never intended that we’d go through life with negative attitudes.
Spend your first “No T.V.” hour with a notebook, and spend some quiet time to think about what you want your retirement to be. Set goals. Choose A Positive Attitude, and accept that you are the one responsible for your retirement. Accept it as a challenge. Decide to own your personal planning. Think about things you want to be doing in retirement, and whether there’s a way you can start doing them now.
If you’d rather ignore all this soft stuff, then just spend a quiet hour reading a book, thinking, learning, or praying. Find something productive for your mind to do for one hour a week.
Continue every week for 8 weeks, then decide if you’ll continue. Don’t stop until the 8 weeks are completed, and only then should you decide if you’ll continue or stop. I can all but guarantee your retirement will improve as a result.
3. Build A Bridge To Retirement
Use your newfound “1 hour No TV Time” to think about things you may be interested in doing in retirement. Then, think about a plan for how you could “test drive” some of the interests while you’re still working. For example, my wife and I now volunteer every Saturday at a Tri State animal shelter. We’re also visiting churches in our new town. We’re getting engaged in our new retirement community, while I’m still fully employed.
Another example, I rode mountain bikes with some friends to experiment with a sport that I’m considering getting into more frequently post-retirement. I tried it, while still working, and liked it. I’m now making it part of my retirement plan.Find something you're interested in, and start building a bridge to retirement. Click To Tweet
One last example: I intentionally started this blog as an experiement in building something while I was still working that would transcend my retirement date. I think of it as “Building A Bridge” with materials that could develop into something to focus on post-retirement. Spend time on this while you’re working, it’ll most certainly improve your post-retirement years.
4. Spend Time On Relationships
Find a way to strengthen your relationships. Build new relationships in areas that will bridge over to retirement.
I’ve been having a monthly lunch with Ed Wolpert, a financial author who happens to live in my new community. Ed’s a fantastic guy, and we’ve been sharing ideas and teachings about finance, option trading, writing, and retirement. He’s 81, and is teaching me a lot. We enjoy our time together. I’ve also had a few phone calls with my new blogger friends, The Groovys, and we’ve shared ideas on blogging and being interviewed on podcasts. I’m intentionally building new relationships.
Approach a few people who appear to be enjoying retirement, then take the advice of this article and set up a time to talk with them. Learn from the transition they’ve already been through. Buy them lunch.
Spend time with your spouse, you’ll be together a lot post-retirement! My wife and I are enjoying trying new things in our mountain community, like this past weekend’s BBQ cookout, where we met a neighbor from my childhood that I hadn’t seen in 45 years! We’re enjoying time with our dogs in the mountains, walking around the town, and relaxing together in the evenings. The nest is now empty, time to reconnect with your spouse. We’re building dreams together (we can’t wait to get our 5th Wheel R.V. in Spring 2017!), and we’re excited about the future (6 months of life on the road with our RV for the first few years of retirement).
Spend time with your parents, spend time with your kids. Make the time to have a good phone call with your child away at college. Let your parents know, if you’re lucky enough to still have them on this earth, how much they mean to you.