Reinventing The Wheel

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Early in my career, I was often criticized by the “veterans” for attempting to reinvent the wheel.

Later in my career, I often criticized the “youngsters” of the same offense.

Now that I’m retired, I realize we were all wrong.

Reinventing the wheel should be a major focus in our lives, especially in retirement.

Reinventing the wheel should be a critical focus to live your best life. Click To Tweet


Reinventing The Wheel

Imagine for a moment that no one bothered to reinvent the wheel after Fred Flintstone used his amazing leg strength to roll those behemoth stone rollers across that ancient tundra.   We may not have to worry about getting a flat tire, but cruising down the interstate would be an entirely different experience than it is today.

We can argue semantics, but let’s agree for the sake of today’s post that “Reinventing The Wheel” refers to an intentional quest to continually improve something in our lives. We’re fortunate that our ancestors consistently reinvented the wheel.

To improve it.

To customize its design for unique applications.

Making something better may be criticized as “reinventing the wheel” by some, but we should never stop seeking to improve our lives.

Instead of Flinstone-era stone rollers better suited to crush grain, we can now buy wheels that allow us to drive in comfort, to drive safely over the snow, to power through the deepest mud, or to ride our mountain bikes on the rockiest terrain.  Going further, we can use ball bearings to precisely move a heavy load.  We can move a space shuttle across the earth.  We can generate hydropower. All because someone had the courage to improve the wheel.

Most importantly, when our needs change, we can choose wheels best suited to the environment. Seeking the best wheel for the situation we’re facing makes life better.

Never stop seeking improvement.

Never stop reinventing your wheel.


Reinventing The Wheel In Retirement

The metaphor of reinventing the wheel fits many stages in life, but few are better suited for its application than retirement. For the first time in our lives, we’re free to modify our wheels however we see fit.

If we think our ride could use some improvement, we’re free to change the tires. 

While reinventing the wheel may have been helpful earlier in our lives (ball bearings for that particularly stressful period at work, perhaps?), it’s absolutely essential during retirement.

Retirement is a time of continual adjustment.  A time when only you can determine how you’ll respond to the situations that arise.  A time when reinventing your wheel is a skill you must adopt.  Most folks struggle at points in their retirement.  If you find that’s true in your life, it’s time to focus on improving your wheel.

It’s time to try a new approach, and it’s entirely within your control.

Don’t continually complain about your lot in life.  Rather, improve your tires, and seek ones containing a positive attitude that roll with contentment in spite of the bumps.

Even if life is going well, don’t settle and let atrophy set in.  Find ways to make it better.  Work on shaving off that rough spot, or add some rubber in the areas that have been neglected.


Examples of Reinventing A Retirement

As I was writing this post, I thought of ways I’ve reinvented things through the first three years of my retirement.  Fortunately, I’ve documented every week in Every Article Written.  Going through those archives, I found the following examples of how this mindset can be applied in retirement:


  • Moving From Good to Great:  When we realized we could do better with our retirement homestead, we sold our original “good” retirement cabin and moved into a “great” one.




  • Building A Dream:  The story of our new “Purposeful Workshop” and focusing our retirement on things that mattered to us.


Conclusion

Retirement is a perfect time to reinvent your wheel.  Don’t settle for things as they are, but rather seek to continually improve your life experience.  If you don’t like something, modify it.  It doesn’t matter if it’s large or small, continually “tweaking” your approach brings tremendous value, especially in retirement.

In closing, the recent change in my approach to this blog is the final example of reinventing your wheel in retirement.  When I realized I was living with a self-induced deadline, I decided to reinvent my approach to blogging.  Rather than committing to a weekly post, I’m writing without a schedule. I’m spending less time on the keyboard and adding some rubber to other areas in my life.  It’s been a good change for me, and it’s made my life better.  

I’m reinventing the wheel.

I encourage you to do the same.


Your Turn:  What are you doing to improve your life?  What areas are you “settling” with that you’d like to change?  What are the first steps you’re going to take?  Let’s chat…

38 comments

  1. I like this one Fritz. I’ve already reinvented myself in a way by starting a business creating art after a W2 career in a more technical field. And even though I don’t know what they’ll be, I know I have more reinventions to come!

  2. Excellent post Fritz, and love your analogy about the Flintstones and re-inventing the wheel!

    In many respects, we all re-invent ourselves throughout life and retirement really is no different. This past year has been especially challenging with the world changing. We’ve all been forced to adapt to events never before considered.

    I like to think my wife and I have re-invented ourselves by letting go of the stuff we don’t have control over. Instead of stressing over external negative events, we focus on what is important to us. The things we can influence such as being happier, safe & healthy, and grateful for what we have.

    1. Shannon, I think a lot of us “reinvented” ourselves over the past year, good point to bring into the discussion. Like you, it’s been a good reminder to me that there are many things outside our control and it’s best to not stress too much about those things. Rather, find the things you can influence that matter to you, perhaps the perfect seed for reinvention. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Great post, my idea is to not get stuck in a Rut, no matter how comfortable that Rut is. Do new things you enjoy. Practice individualism, don’t always be in the herd. For me it was going outside my retired easy life rut and starting to teach outdoor subjects and orienteering to both youth groups and adults. Volunteering in a National and a State Park added a new dimension. Now embarked upon a postponed lifelong desire to build a model train layout. Fun being able to create your own little landscape.

    1. Curtis, ironic that you left your comment, I actually considered citing you as an example of someone I admire who has demonstrated “reinvention” in retirement. It was an honor to get the opportunity to hike with you recently on “your” trail, a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life. Thanks for continuing to provide inspiration to those following in your footsteps!

  4. On “Blowing that Dough” or in words, “Living Like No One Else”, we take an automatic withdrawal from my tIRA and transfer to a checking account. Then we spend freely from that checking account. If it continues to build up we transfer to a taxable investment account that is the source of large maintenance funds, travel, new cars. There’s a floor below which we don’t go (that’s the maintenance pool), but the rest is gravy. The tIRA needs trimming before the tax torpedo (when I start SS and RMD). So, I’m also doing conversions to ROTH up to the top of the 22% tax bracket. Between the last year of Covid spending (way down) and investment returns (up) that taxable account has seen some nice increases, despite some fun Covid purchases. As travel opens up and we can dine again with friends, we won’t have any trouble blowing that dough!

    1. Linda, amazing minds think alike – we use a very similar process in “automating our paycheck” via monthly transfers into our checking account. It brings peace of mind to know we can (and should) spend everything in our checking account, a real “reinvention” since our working days. Enjoy that gravy!

  5. I repeat the following mantra every morning with a smile on my face…
    EVERYDAY, IN EVERY WAY, I AM GETTING BETTER AND BETTER.
    Attributed to Emile Coue, about 100 years go, I have saying this for many years and find it especially helpful now that I am in retirement.
    Blessings to you
    ,

  6. I’m just starting this retirement journey…on day 14! The first thing I did to improve my life WAS to retire even after being discouraged to do so given my age and what is going on in the world! Need to reflect on what else I am settling on and think through next steps. A lot to think about… but the time freedom to do so! Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Fritz, Great post! I am glad to see that the rid of self induced deadlines is agreeing with you….LOL.

    I have an idea for post that may dovetail into this one. It would be nice for those of us still on the journey to retirement to see what a daily, weekly schedule looks like for you and why each task, event, and moment is prioritized the way it is. Some of us have had so much structure, deadlines, commitments in our working lives that we may be fearful of making the retirement schedule leap. I am aware of some your posts on this subject (importance of retiring to something), but seeing a practice retirement schedule might be useful for those of us still planning.

    May God Bless your family and provide you the continued insight into wisdom and happiness.

    1. Great idea for a post, MAI. Unfortunately, almost every week is different, so I’d just have to “throw a dart” and write about a random week. As I mention in my book, a lot of folks struggle with the loss of structure when they retire. The fact that you’re recognizing that is a good thing. The good news – you have the freedom to make your retirement as structured or as free flowing as you desire. If you’re like me, you’ll probably “reinvent” your approach several times through the first few years. I’ve added a bit more structure (gym classes 3x/week), but keep my afternoons open for a more ‘serendipitous’ approach. It works for me, and I’m sure you’ll find what works for you.

  8. Hi Fritz, I think this is a great post. I’m a year away until I retire from my full-time job. I’m looking forward to reinventing my wheel and enjoying the next chapter in my life. I enjoy reading your posts and other posts like this. I’m doing a lot of soul searching and plan to talk with other retired people to find out what has and hasn’t worked for them. I want to rock my retirement!
    Thank you!

    1. Mark, you’re certainly following in my footsteps, your approach mirrors mine when I was one year out. I also did a lot of soul searching and talked with a lot of retired folks (see my “One Question” posts where I recorded their answers), it was enlightening and helpful in my transition. Rockin’….

  9. Fritz, Well said! Priorities change and making that mental mindset change to embrace it. Change is constant, it’s just a matter of do you drive it or let it happen to you.

  10. Fritz, you’re on a roll this morning, no pun intended. My wife and I have found that reinventing retirement every couple years is one of the our favorite aspects about retirement. We have enjoyed RV traveling across the country the past several years, to the tune of nearly 60,000 miles in our 8 year retirement. During those travels we have been to many places that we would love to live in. It appears that the next reinvention in our retirement adventure maybe a move to somewhere completely different, just because we can. We are going to launch on an RV trip later in the summer and into the fall through several of the state’s we are considering moving to. We are looking forward to the adventures and possibilities of change in our retirement trajectory. We enjoy the process of reinventing the wheel.

    Enjoyed your post as always, keep writing, you’re really good at it.

    1. Haha, “roll”…I get it. Nice.

      Keep me posted on the results of your “RV Survey Tour”, would love to buy you lunch if you happen to pass through the North Georgia mountains! Great idea to spend some time in various areas that interest you, and a true luxury to be able to take your time and do it right with your RV. Have a great trip (and, thanks for your kind words about my writing, much appreciated).

  11. 8 weeks into my retirement and i feel useless and unmotivated to do anything. When i look at my home, all i see is more WORK to do. About $10,000 of upgrades. Budgeted money is already there….. but to spend it……. hm….. I have to stop looking at everything as a challenge to complete. These are all needed upgrades and can be done quickly but i am a list person and it is hard to stop trying to check off things. For me the wheel must slow down. It is very hard for me not to complete a check list.

    1. David, you’d be shocked by how many notes I get from folks feeling EXACTLY the way you’re feeling. That was the reason I wrote the chapter “Hidden Challenges” in my book, and a reality many retirees struggle with. Fear not, many folks before you have worked through the transition successfully. Give it time, foster your curiousity, and follow your instinct. You’ll get through this, and you’ve got many great years ahead of you. Good luck on your journey, and in weaning yourself from your addiction to checklists (your first step in your “reinvention”, it would appear – wink).

    2. David, my husband is one month from retirement. He already has 15k worth of cabinets on order to redo the kitchen. He has ALWAYS worked 10-12 hour days. Other than putting rocks in his pants, I don’t see how to slow him down. Hopefully he gets this out of his system quickly. And yes, we are having a hard time also going from the savings mode to the spending mode. We budgeted for the project but are still having a hard time spending the money. 40+ years of savings behavior doesn’t just leave you when you retire, I guess.

      1. Thank you for sharing about your husband. I think it will take us some time before we can both sit still and be comfortable doing so. Yes, learning to go from a saver to a spender is another challenge. We bought a used 1999 suburban in 2000 for are family of 5. It was $16.000 and i thought i had lost my mind. Now that the kids are gone we decided to purchase a jeep to pull behind our RV. Our last few years of working we lived on what our retirement budget would be and saved even harder for the Jeep. On March 10, 2021 we went to see a dealer friend of mine and picked up our new Jeep. We have never purchased a brad new car before. We have always bought used. We paid cash and it was so hard to let that money go…………… Why????? This is what that money was for right????????? Now I am fine with it(almost) and we are ready to hit the road with the jeep in tow. Now for the 1999 Suburban……….. with 233,000 on it, still running great, will be my little side project to restore and 4×4 with it when we have a larger group.

        David

  12. Although the subject and subject matter are both great, to me, the most important line is “Time Matters More Than Money”.

  13. Good stuff Fritz! A wise man once said; “ be open to change, it’s another word for innovation”. Happy trails.

  14. Hey Fritz,

    I am looking forward to reinvention. I thought about retiring by the end of June, but with COVID still in full swing and my job change to a corporate gig working from home, I decided to stay at least through the end of the year. Working from home has introduced a new dimension in my relationship with my wife. I am encroaching on her territory and she lets me know when to “go to work.” Still getting my ducks in a row, but looking forward to the transition.

    BTW I was recently in Dothan for work. Great city!

    1. Dom, I can understand how the “WFH” movement led to your decision to continue working a bit longer. Had I been given the opportunity to work from our mountain cabin, it’s likely I’d have done the same. Nice transition for you, best of luck when you finally cross The Starting Line. And…small world about Dothan, and I agree it’s a nice town. It’s only ~30 minutes from our place in Enterprise, we go there frequently.

  15. Thanks Fritz. I retired a little earlier than many might think is enough savings. But we have more than enough to continue our standard of living. In our mind time outweighs money . Interesting that I retired 2 months prior to Covid Lock down but even so we saw 6 national Parks last year and spent 3 months in the Pacific NW. travel is our passion.

  16. Teaching in the time of covid has taught me how to reinvent the wheel for sure. At first, my attitude was “I’ll never get used to this, I should just quit” to “Ok, maybe I can make this work” and that is exactly how my husband and I will handle the challenges and joys of retirement.
    Always love your posts Fritz. Thanks

    1. Karen, my heart goes out to all of those teachers who have been trying to connect with “their kids” electronically throughout the COVID situation, glad you decided to accept the challenge with a positive attitude. The key to a great retirement!

  17. Wow! This is a timely post! A real point that I am struggling with is “reinvention”! After 36 years of Information Technology Management and Executive Officer positions … I am “burned out” and ready for a change!! Although, my life in Technology for over 36 years has been nothing but change so I should be use to it, right? … well yes, but “fear of the unknown” continues to creep in my mind after working so hard to build a successful life for my family … how does one get over this and just pull the cord? My wife and I are 57, 35 years married, 2 kids out on their own … Financially well prepared for retiring from the corporate world but my problem is more of a mental block than a financial block. My wife tells me that I am “over-analyzing” … again 🙂 … she’s right … again :-)!!

    1. Glad the timing was good for you, Paul. Your “fear” is not unique, thousands have faced it down in the past successfully. Good question on how to get over it, and more than I can address in a short comment. The easy answer? Listen to your wife. Wink. You may be interested in my book, Keys to a Successful Retirement – it’s focused on exactly the question you’re asking, I think you’d find it helpful. Best of luck on your journey!

  18. With a proper construction of a lifelong mission statement, your trajectory will never change.

    Very few of us are fortunate enough to identify the direct path. Most of us will have to travel many paths.

    Because the limited nature of FIRE, once the FI line is crossed, the inevitability “What is next?” is one step ahead!

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