Purpose, Motivation And Life Aspirations

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We should all have a Purpose, Motivation and Life Aspirations to strive for...Right? Click To Tweet

This blog is about Helping People Achieve A Great Retirement, and all which that entails (hmmm…ponder that).

The more I study this stuff, the more I realize that having things that Motivate us and provide Purpose are important elements for a great life, and a great retirement.

Some of us….

  • get motivated through work, then struggle in retirement.
  • get motivated as parents, and struggle with Empty Nest.
  • get motivated by things that don’t matter, and can’t figure out why we’re unhappy.
  • get motivated by things that do matter, and are the most content people around.
  • get motivated by personal causes in retirement, and have a Purpose in our Freedom Years.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a member of the “last two bullets” above, and get motivated by things that really matter.  I’m striving towards that as I work toward retirement, and I believe it’s important.

Think about something you can strive for, something that motivates you. Life Will Be Better That Way. Click To Tweet

We should all strive to have a variety of things that motivate us. I like to write about things that motivate me, in the hope that you can use the concepts to find something to motivate yourself.  It’s important that we find ways to motivate ourselves to pursue new goals, challenge ourselves, and keep ourselves engaged in “the game” that is Life.

Purpose, Motivation and Life Aspirations

So, as we prepare for, and move through retirement, we should look for things that…

  • …Are important, really important, to us on a personal level.
  • …Can be developed into A Purpose.
  • …Can be broken down into short term goals.
  • …With the right goals, will Motivate and move you forward.
  • …Will give you Life Aspirations, things to strive toward.

This article is about Purpose, Motivation and Life Aspirations, and the principles presented can (and should) be applied in various areas of your life.  I’ll use an example of Physical Fitness for today’s story, but it’s only one of various areas in my life where I’m using the approach.  Some other areas I’m working on, and encourage you to consider:

  • Spirituality  (Closer to God each day)
  • Marriage  (We’re together for life, couldn’t be happier)
  • Relationships  (Treasure old & develop new)
  • Charity / Giving Back (Help create some Good in the world)
  • Community Involvement (Make a difference, locally)
  • Prioritizing Family (They’re the most important people in your life)
  • Personal Fitness  (I want to be able to hike into my 70’s) 
  • Life Experiences (The Retirement Road Trip in that 5th Wheel is on the horizon!).

This is primarily a personal finance/retirement blog, so I don’t write about all of the areas listed above.  However, they’re all important to me, and I spend a lot of time thinking about them, and trying to improve in many areas of my life.

I encourage you to spend time thinking about developing Purpose in various areas of your life, and view today’s story about Cold Water Swimming as an analogy that can be adopted as you see fit.  As you think about it, I encourage you to….

…Find A Purpose

I encourage you to find things that provide motivation in your life.  Think through various areas of your life, and build a list of things you’d like to improve. Seek to make a few of those things fitness related.  As I discuss in Younger Next Year, there is clear scientific evidence that consistent, moderate exercise is the best thing you can do to be able to enjoy the same activities in your 70’s that you do in your 50’s.  In addition, a focus on fitness should help to keep your health care costs down as you age.  Are those factors important to you?  They should be, in my humble opinion.

Fitness is something I feel a passion for, and I’m pursuing it as one of my “Purpose” areas, currently in development for retirement.   I sincerely believe that a well rounded fitness program will increase your chances of Having A Great Retirement.  I encourage you to think about it, and hope my posts motivate you to do something for your health, and other areas of your Life.  Find other areas to develop (continuing, of course, with your personal finance development via reading this blog, and other sources!  Smiles).

Find a Purpose.

While you’re at it, find a few.


My Motivation:  Cold Water Swimming

Let me give you an example;  A Case Study of the process….

For Starters…Motivation:  When I focus on the “Purpose” of Personal Fitness, cold water swimming is something that motivates me.  It’s crazy, I know.  But I like it, and it works (really well) for me during this phase of the  Retirement Transition Plan.  It’s something that gives me a sense of accomplishment, and it’s something I want to pursue.  SO, I get intentional on designing cold water swimming into my fitness goals.

I hope you’ll find the Case Study a nice example for the broader concept of building Purpose, Motivation and Life Aspirations.  Look at how I’m using swimming, and see if you can find something that you can use in a similar way in your own life.  Find a way to create….

  • A Purpose.
  • A Short Term Goal toward that Purpose.
  • A Challenge To Motivate You Day-To-Day.
  • Something that stretches you to improve.

During chats, folks seem to frequently mention my “odd habit” of Cold water swimming. It seems to have become something that people remember about about me.  I guess I’m a bit unique, in a way.  Quirky, even?  I’m “cool” with that (bad pun, intended).  I hope my interest motivates you, and these stories offer a bit of entertainment along the way.

Find something that motivates you, and try building something using the framework I’m using.  My Physical Fitness Case Study can be applied to any Purpose you’re attempting to build, anywhere in of your life.  I hope the approach helps you as we all work together to Achieve A Great Retirement (my byline).

Find a Purpose, Develop Short Term Goals, and design motivation to improve. Click To Tweet

As an aside, if you want to see how “big” cold water swimming can be, check out this video.  (here’s that entertainment part I promised).  Maybe someday I’ll be fortunate enough to join these members of the International Ice Swimming Association in this strangely appealing swim

Of special note:  They talk about the physiological impact of swimming in cold water, which is exactly what I experienced in London, at the 3:00 min mark in the video.  I wrote about what happened to my body in Achieving The Dream. Take a minute to listen, it’s fascinating “mind over matter-type stuff”, well worth a few minutes of your time. Don’t miss “The Devil’s Look” at 5:00 min mark:

Imagine swimming a kilometer in water cold enough to kill you without a wetsuit at an elevation of 10,000 feet. That's what the swimmers of the International Ice Swimming Association do. It's not just a race to the finish line—it's a race for survival. Tune in to "That's Amazing" every Sunday at 9pm on The Weather Channel.

Posted by Great Big Story on Thursday, December 1, 2016

March 1, 2017

As I started my first draft of this post on March 1, I just completed my first cold water swim of 2017.  What were you doing on March 1st?  I suspect swimming outside was not on your mind.  Maybe I’m crazy, but…..

…..On March 1, I swam.

As I finish this post on March 7 (I write ~1-2 weeks ahead), I just finished my second cold water swim of 2017.  I was so excited (Hey, I’m on a roll), and had to send a Tweet:

To follow me on Twitter,  just click on this link -> @RetireManifesto

Oh My Gosh, I just realized I spelled “Too” as “To” ON A PUBLIC TWEET!  I’ll be persecuted by my 1,721 Followers when they realize I’m a fraud.  I can’t even spell To Too correctly! And I claim to be a blogger!!??  I’m Doomed!

(BTW, I love the “network dynamics” on Twitter.  Thanks to all my blogger friends who support one another on Social Media!  You know who you are, and you’re appreciated!!  

November 2016

The last time I swam in Cold Water was 106 Days ago, on November 15, 2016.  November was a great month, and I’ll never forget my Cold Water Swim in London.  Outside, in Serpentine Lake, a hidden gem within London’s Hyde Park.  The air temperature just above freezing, and The Dolphin and I went for a swim.  It was the experience of a lifetime.

What were you thinking about on November 15th?  Raking Leaves?  Football?

I was swimming.  It motivates me.

106 days between the end, and the beginning:

  • November 15, 2016:  Last Cold Water Swim of 2016 (48F  / 9C Water temp)
  • March 1, 2017:  First Cold Water Swim Of 2017 (50F / 10C Water temp)

The Last Chance Challenge:  Lake Zurich Swim

My regular readers may recall that I attempted to swim across Lake Zurich last year, only to have My Olympic Event Cancelled. “The Dolphin” beat me in the last minute switch to a 100 Meter Sprint event, but we settled the score with our London swim in November.

To keep myself challenged through the summer, I’ve decided to resurrect my Lake Zurich Challenge, and will attempt to swim across the lake (and back) in August 2017.  As for “Last Chance” which I’ve added into the title, let’s just say I haven’t told my employer when I plan to retire, but it’s highly likely that I won’t have a chance to swim Lake Zurich in August 2018 (I suspect you can figure out why it’s called “The Last Chance”).

Hey Dolphin, You Listening?  I’ll call you….

The Last Chance Challenge:  Defined

  • Date:    August 2017
  • Location:  Zurich, Switzerland
  • Objective:  To swim, via non-stop breaststroke, across Lake Zurich and back in under 37 minutes.

For a Grande Finale, I will close out the 2017 Swimming Season with the now infamous London Swim In November.  Yes, I will once (and for all?) swim with those crazy Brits.  You know the ones, those folks who swim outside, year-round, in the Serpentine Swimming Club?  Heads up, my British friends, I’m planning on paying you a visit in the first week of November, God Wiling.

I like to have these annual goals.  They keep me motivated, and they provide purpose.

Try it.

You may like it.


Seeking Purpose, Motivation and Life Aspirations can make the difference between a Great Life/Retirement and a “Not So Great” Life/Retirement.  Spend some time thinking about things that are truly important to you.  Think about things that matter.   Be intentional, and decide to target a few areas you’d like to focus on for improvement in your life. Then, set short term goals that will motivate you to work toward the improvement you’re seeking.

And…if you’re in London in November…..

…Feel free to join me for a swim.


  1. Fritz;
    Well done – great inspiration and encouragement to round out retirement. It isn’t just about the financial component. I beleieve once you have “your number” it’s time to move on to other facets of life as you mentioned. It’s also important to get cracking on these elements earlier vs later so by the time an individual actually retires they can move full force into them thus making the transition much smoother. Thanks for all the inspiration, however don’t look for me in the cold water, it’s not happening.

    1. OB, in with the first comment! (I hope you didn’t set your retirement alarm clock to get up early?), great to get your input since you’re living the retirement dream. You motivate me with your hiking, and I wish you the best on your Pacific Crest Trail adventure in a few months!! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Hey, Fritz. Great post. Purpose and motivation are key to a great retirement. My current fitness goals are rather straightforward: do 20 pullups by the summer and 10 muscle ups by the fall. I came close last year. Hopefully this year will be different. Good luck on the Zurich swim. And I really admire your mettle when it comes to cold-water swimming. I hear it’s great for you but I’m a wuss.

  3. I think about purpose and motivation all the time, Fritz. The easy answer for me is having more time with my growing family in retirement. Not easy only spending a few hours a day with them during the work week. Work can be exciting and motivating occasionally, but can also be a bit depressing having to work some weekends too. But when the day comes when work is in my past, I will have so much more time for not only family and friends, but all the hobbies I’ve set aside. More time being outdoors, coaching youth sports, volunteering, hunting / fishing, reading, etc.

    Best of luck with your Last Chance Challenge! And who knows, but maybe we’ll still be able to meet up in London come November.

    1. Family is a great motivation, Swan. I think Swans spend a lot of time caring for their chicks, right?

      I hope your London transition gets settled by November, would be incredible to swim with a Swan in London! (there actually were some real swans in the lake when I swam it last year, though none of them were green). We’ll keep in touch as you work through your potential relocation…would be great to meet you in London.

    2. This is definitely one of my biggest motivations too! I want to be able to spend more time with my husband and (yet-to-be-had) kiddos.

      And good luck, Fritz! I’ve never met anyone who was interested in cold water swimming except for an annual polar bear plunge. More power to you!

  4. This is something that I spend a lot of time on in my money mentoring program. Because our money goals should support and help us gain traction in our values instead of bankrupt them. Money itself is an amazing tool, but a horrible goal! So we talk about all the value areas, then list 5-15 things of what those would look like. Deal with challenges, find solutions. THEN we craft a money plan.

    It’s a process that I have revised over and over in my own life the last 15 years. But it has been so cool to be to walk others through it. Often asking questions they had never thought about. Or dealing with challenges they had never admitted.

    I think you are right that the key to a great retirement are those last two points. I’m just helping people start figuring out those points 10-20 years before they hit retirement. =)

    1. Great point about money: “Money itself is an amazing tool, but a horrible goal!”

      You’ll notice I didn’t have any “money goals” in my Purpose targets, for a reason! I agree that money is a means to an end, but the ends are infinitely more important than the money!

      I’ve considered retirement coaching as a future growth path, I’m pleased to see it’s working out well for you, and providing an area for your own personal development. May have to compare notes at some point…thanks for stopping by!

  5. I’m not sure where my motivation comes from… I wake up each day ready to build something or help someone. I’m a positive person and have always tried to improve each day!

    Your health is your wealth, I truly believe that. I’d rather be 125 pounds and broke, than 1000 pounds and a billionaire (though at the higher end, you could pay for surgery…)

    I do workouts 3 days a week and play basketball one other day. When it’s the summer time (I’m in Minnesota), I try to get outside every day, be it on a bike ride, a run, or a walk.

    Thanks for sharing Fritz.

  6. Great topic. I just wrote about this on my blog. Having a purpose in life is so important for your overall well being. It can be big or small, as long as it’s something important to you. I’m very competitive and get a lot out of competing in sports. I would also like to volunteer more for causes that are important to me.

  7. Great inspiration! At 53, I’m no where near being able to retire. I wish I had planned better in my younger years. I am, however, making changes that will, hopefully, enable me to love my work. The type of work I have done for the last 31 years, while it paid the bills and is a noble profession, has never been my passion.

    I’m working on making that transition now. I know it may take some time, but I would love to have a job I don’t feel the need to retire from. Or one that I can continue to do as long as I can type out a few words on a computer from anywhere in the world!

    I don’t believe in dropping out just because we hit a certain birthday that we call retirement age. For me that number, according to Social Security, is 67. I want my brain to stay engaged and healthy as long as possible.

    I don’t need to be rich in money or things, I want to be rich in experiences and people and if I continue down this same path I have walked on for the past 31 years, it will never happen. That is my motivation.

  8. Great read, Fritz! I know you will not get bored in Early Retirement! Better luck next time in Lake Zurich.
    Speaking of which, the ERN family will visit Paris in July and we might even swing by Zurich for a few days and check the water temperature for you. With one toe only, though. I got cold just watching that video!

  9. Money is the motivation for too many. It was for me. As I stare at 60 I have finally become more thoughtful about what’s important. I discover new facets every day and am delighted even more.

    Finding what really drives you is a true blessing. Reading great thought leaders is another 🙂

    (I’m also quite jealous of your workout regimen)

  10. Great and timely post. I know you don’t spend much time focusing on directly faith on this site, but others have pointed out, share the Gospel, use words if necessary. Our life, first needs to show we have faith in Him. When we do that, others will naturally be drawn to us.

    I’m actually guest preaching this weekend and originally had a “darker” sermon planned, but after getting one gut punch and deciding it would be more impactful to find the positive, and then a couple of days after that decision, getting a second gut punch, and finally your post cemented my decision.

    Anyway, I will be talking about “Finding your Heaven”. Basically, find the positive things you hope for in the future that can help you get through the trials in the present.

    Cold Water swimming isn’t one of mine, but while training for my Ultra Beast last year I did try to slowly acclimate myself to being able to not be shocked by cold water as we were facing a snow-melt fed pond during the race. Ultimately, that part of the event was cancelled as far too many were coming out unable to finish because not only was the water extremely cold, the high for the day was estimated to be about 38 and then it snowed and was quite a bit colder.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Chris. I don’t write about Faith much, but it is my #1 Purpose. I try to demonstrate it via my Life, but an area we should all be continually working on. Proud of you for guest preaching, not sure I’d have the courage for that! Good move to go “positive”, and glad I influenced you.

      Your Ultra Beast sounds brutal, beyond even what I consider “fun”! Thanks for stopping by!

  11. The last 2 bullet points are the place too (get it? ) be.

    The cold water swimming is not on my radar. Great to read your experience though…

  12. This cold water swimming is crazy but I appreciate your enthusiasm! I plan to go a more temperate route and stay somewhere warm during the winters. More and more these 5 month long Chicago winters are killing me!! My family is lovely but they will still be lovely the other 7 months of the year. 🙂

    I can’t wait to see pic of the Lake Zurich swim!! August is right around the corner….

    1. “I can’t wait to see pic of the Lake Zurich swim!!”….I’m hoping a co-worker will be willing to take some pics from one of the many the “lifeboat peddle boats” (party boats, really) that will in the lake with us! Needless to say, taking pics will be the furthest thing from my mind! Someday I’m going to have to swim in Lake Michigan, may have to target that when I’m in Chicago in June!

  13. Decades ago I worked at a Boy Scout summer camp as a life guard. I use to open the pool at 5 am for what was affectionately called the polar bear swim. What your doing here, makes a 5 am swim in the North East on a early June day look like a hot shower.

    Life is all about finding your purpose or your happiness. Money, early retirement, financial independence, and even frugality are just tools in the pursuit of that happiness.

    If you ever need a lifeguard from a row boat I might be game, but I don’t step in the water without a wet suit under about 50 degrees.

  14. Great post! Can’t wait to hear all about Zurich. My purpose & motivation is all about supporting my family, since we’re all living on my income. It’s up to me to make sure they have a good life, and to get my kids through college. But I’m also aware I need a bigger or different purpose longer term, because the kids will grow up before I know it. Working on that one!

    1. I know everyone says this, but it really is true: Kids grow up really, really fast. Treasure your time with them, but make sure you develop longer term goals for after the kids are gone. It’ll be here in a flash.

  15. I’m not sure what I’ll retire to, but I know what I want to leave behind (I’m not really too far out on the limb with that statement).

    Honestly, when it comes to FIRE, a huge part of the appeal to me is the freedom to do whatever I want.

    I’m a free spirit. I wing it (often). In retirement I want to go where the current takes me. I know that sounds aimless, but it’s exactly what I want.

    And by the way, you’re nuts. ?

  16. Purpose drives us all. Some work hard to buy that vacation or fancy car. Others work hard for financial freedom. I am working to have time with my son before he is 30…hopefully by the time he is 10! Stay motivated and stay warm or is it cold!

  17. i am an avid outdoor swimmer. I am lucky enough to have a lake down the road from me. I’ve jumped in when the water was in the high 50s with a wet suit on and that took a ton of motivation.

    I totally get why some folks would be into this sport. A mind/body connection. Overcoming your fear.
    Good on you for going for it.

  18. You know – this is exactly why I love reading blogs each week. This is definitely an area I need more focus on. I have been so busy with everything that spending time to focus on purpose and motivation has really taken a back seat. With freedom in sight, I can’t wait to “reset” and do more deeper thinking. Thanks for the push. Now – as a fellow swimmer, I love reading about your cold water adventures. But I can still vividly remember outdoor practices in freezing cold water. I’d be happy to cheer from the shoreline – or get a darn good wetsuit to join you!

    1. Hey Vicki, love seeing you on my site! “With Freedom In Sight” is exactly the time to carve our more time for thinking about the broader goals in your life. Soon, your job will be behind, and the future you design will be the road upon which your journey will begin to march! Sorry that won’t include cold water swimming…but at least you’re making the decision based on actual experience!! We’ll keep in touch!

  19. Excellent post Fritz. My faith is most important to me, followed by my family and then everything else, including work and money, as important as these last two are and which I’m equally passionate about. I run 4 miles a day five times a week every morning and it gives me an adrenaline rush! It’s really hard but half the battle is showing up so I can relate to your cold water swims!


    1. Moolah, nice to see you on my site, and good for you for running 20 miles per week!! (I haven’t hit that level since I did my marathon 10+ years ago, good for you for the consistency).

      As I’ve gotten older, I’m mixing a lot more “speed walking” into my jogs. Running to a targeted heart rate is now more important to me than running for pace. Interesting transition with age.

  20. Great blog, as I’ve spent this past year researching and contemplating taking an early retirement. I just happened to run into your blog. I couldn’t agree with you more about finding a purpose when punching a time clock is no longer a factor. Unfortunately I, as many folk, caught up in work, family, etc.. lose sight of this. Money is a factor in the kind of retirement we want and you offer some great advice, but shouldn’t be the determining factor. Your blog allowed me to read what I’ve been telling myself this past year. I choice a career in the public sector which still has a retirement plan. I won’t be rich by any stretch of the imagination but it will suffice until our final clock out. For me, staying in reasonable decent condition has always been a priority and something I enjoy. I don’t see myself jumping in any cold water but do enjoy a great hike or round of golf and have my sites on.

    Reading through your blogs has been inspirational and provided the final nudge for me as, I submitted my paperwork for retiring today.

    1. Art, CONGRATULATIONS on submitting your retirement paperwork today! Huge step, and I’m happy to hear that my blog has been helpful in your transition! It’s comments like yours that motivate me to do this, thanks for taking the time to leave your note!

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