Posts Tagged ‘passions’

Every once in awhile I’ll be doing something and I get a glimpse, almost a flash-forward perspective, of the way I expect to live fifteen, twenty, thirty years from now. Those little moments where I think, “Yeah, this is good. I would be happy having more of this in my everyday world more often.” Which gets me wondering what I’m doing to guide my life in that direction.

My recent post on golf is a good example. I am certain that I could be happy playing three rounds of golf every week if money was no object. I could easily imagine putting together a remote work agreement that allows me all the time I would need (if not the cash), and have taken a few, small steps in that direction. If it all works out, I’d be living part of my dream life.

Another example is cooking. In our home, cooking together with my wife is a romantic and intimate pastime. Food is life, and sharing a kitchen is play; these are fundamental, not abstract, human needs and concepts. So our plans – a large kitchen with high ceilings, huge granite countertops, a big gas stove, a flat-top grill, beautiful Tuscany tile and an amazing array of copper pots and cast-iron cookware – these plans are never far from our minds. That’s what we expect our future to look like.

Pipe dreams? Maybe. But I think pipe dreams get a bad rap. Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have always imagined.” It’s a better plan than just letting life happen to you.

Food is Life

As much as we enjoy cooking, we also share a special fondness for interesting restaurants. Our tastes in restaurants coincide very well; we’ve been married for eight years, and I can’t remember a single restaurant about which we disagreed. In order to be interesting, it cannot be a national chain, it has to be reasonably priced, it ought to be something none of our friends has heard of, and it must be something we can recommend to people and brag about our discovery. Extra points for quirky, cozy, funky, rustic or bohemian; more bonus points for having a patio, live music, a lending library, a history, friendly waitstaff, local art or an excellent craft beer list.

So we plan to make finding these places a part of our life and our future. Our intent is to dine our way across America, and maybe learn something about the countryside while we’re at it. This originally started out as our plan for spending our retirement years, but the more I consider it the more I realize that there is no reason to wait that long. It’s just a matter of becoming location independent.

Having these dreams, plans, goals – it’s important to keep them in mind so that you know what direction you wish to travel. But it’s equally important to monitor your actions, tasks and behavior to make sure they are propelling you in the same direction as your dreams. Henry Ford said, “Some people succeed because they are destined to, but most people succeed because they are determined to.”

One more point about the concept of “retirement”. We have no intention of letting retirement be a time of inactivity. We see it as a time we are finally able to “do” without limits. To accomplish and to experience. To live the big life. The word “retire” means to withdraw, to retreat; these are antonyms to what we have in mind.

At first I thought I needed to start using a different word. “Dis-retirement? Un-retired? Encounterment years? Big life?” Then I realized I had fallen into the trap of thinking that it was something in the future, distinguishable and separate from our life now. It’s not! I have no plans for myself at age 45 that I cannot see doing also at age 55, 65 or 75. There is no line of demarcation where we will transition from being not retired to being retired. Instead, we are going to keep on moving, building and doing the way we are now, with an eye towards the next new, fun thing. Living the big life and always setting sail towards bigger and bigger shores.

How about you? What are your big goals for a big life? Are you doing things consistent with those goals? Has your retirement planning been based on a specific date, or have you decided to take on some big life in small doses before that date comes? Leave your answers in the comments section, below.

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Things sure have changed here on Walton’s Mountain… but some things never change, especially that creeping feeling that my to-do lists are not a voluntary plan I’ve devised for my time but rather are a sinister underworld plan concocted by demons and devils to keep me shackled to a lifestyle devoid of entertainment, peace and contentment.

In March, I erroneously spied a light at the end of the tunnel. Turns out it was an oncoming train.

Shortly after Pappy was settled into a comfortable routine, Carol and I volunteered to host Financial Peace at our church – obligating us to seventeen weeks of planning, coordinating and leadership. Now that it’s over, whew, it was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever taken on. I must be sure to remember how that felt when brainstorming for potential businesses I may decide to launch.

Now the pressure is on for planning the Haunt. I’ve got two months to wrap it up. My to-do list had this task being finished back in January. As usual, this looks like it may turn into another last-minute, can’t-believe-it-turned-out-this-good event.

The only other responsibility to which I’ve obligated myself is our Faith Lessons on Sunday mornings. Also very fulfilling, but a little bit of a job – not because the lessons require it, but because I feel compelled to work a little extra to make it nicer and more meaningful for everyone.

My lists may not be getting smaller, but they are consistantly interesting. And they keep me on task, aware, focused and disciplined.

Friday August 15, 2008 – 10:21am (EDT)

I wonder how many blogs, exercise regiments, diets and get-organized plans begin in January from year to year? Ah, well. I try to follow the path less travelled, but sometimes I have to just bite the bullet and do something that could be interpreted as “typical”, even if the motivation behind it was not. So here’s a blog. At least now I have someplace to put my thoughts, reviews, rants and insights. I am writing to an audience of one – me. If anyone else should happen across my words, I hope they read them knowing that this is a private conversation taking place in a public forum, not unlike an overheard discussion at a nearby table in a restaurant or coffeehouse.

The effort I spend on my varied interests tends to wax and wane – I’ll be passionately, seriously focused for time, then gradually back off and another gets my attention for awhile. Then months or years later I pour myself into it again. The older I get, the more desperate I get to find more free time, so I can spend all day all week all over all of my hobbies, interests and passions. I think most people imagine that’s what retirement will be like.

It would be nice, if true.

Friday January 18, 2008 – 10:12am (EST)