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If you’ve been online at all recently, you’ve probably seen the term ‘mindset’. It’s everywhere! It’s become a buzz word for 2017. If you search (affiliate link included for your convenience) Amazon in All Departments for ‘mindset’, there are 16,901 results. Searching the term in (affiliate link included for your convenience) Amazon in Books returns 6,781 results – these numbers increased by 175 and 4 respectively since yesterday! And a Google search returns 84,500,000 results.
“Wow!” doesn’t even begin to communicate my amazement at these numbers. As I join the ranks of Carol Dweck, Depak Chopra, John Piper, Tony Robbins, and the Harvard Business Review writing about mindset, I must admit to a little bit of fear and trepidation. Then again, while a lot of big names have jumped on the mindset bandwagon, according to the numbers listed above, thousands of lesser-known writers, like myself, have too.
The Urban Dictionary defines mindset as an ‘outlook towards life’. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as ‘a person’s way of thinking and their opinions’. Another way to think about mindset is that it’s your life philosophy.
So, what is a Rehearsing RetirementTM Mindset?
In the very first Rehearsing RetirementTM post, It’s My Birthday, I defined the Rehearsing RetirementTM Lifestyle as ‘preparing for retirement, planning what you want to do in your senior years, and practicing’.
In the beginning, it didn’t occur to me that Rehearsing RetirementTM could be a mindset. But since launching RehearsingRetirement.com, I’ve read several ‘mindset’ books. It seems to me that most of the books teach a similar framework for determining your mindset.
- Decide your priorities
- Figure out your ‘why’
As I’ve written Rehearsing RetirementTM posts, responded to comments, and explained the blog to hundreds of people in the last 10 months, the terms ‘mindset’ and ‘lifestyle’ have become interchangeable. There are two key reasons I think this has happened.
- Your lifestyle is determined by your priorities.
- Your mindset is a result of your why.
Lifestyle = Priorities
What are your priorities? Professional athletes understandably put fitness, training, and their sport first. Homeschool moms prioritize their children’s education. Workaholics, put their jobs or careers before health or family – and yes, I have been accused of doing just this.
I’ve always felt very strongly about putting family first.
But sometimes your season in life determines your priorities. From 2009 to 2014, working full-time as a bookstore manager put a real cramp in our family holiday celebrations. The worst year was 2012. I was a store manager, and my assistant manager had resigned a couple of weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday. I worked until after midnight Wednesday night setting up the Black Friday sale displays.
Our girls were home from Nashville TN, St. Louis MO, and Chicago IL, and everyone helped with cooking the holiday meal. Thanksgiving Day was going well. It was even fairly relaxing until about noon when I received a text message from a newly promoted sales floor leaders saying that he was also quitting, effective immediately. I spent a good part of Thanksgiving afternoon contacting other employees to cover for him and reworking my schedule for the next day. That evening, my family watched movies and played games. I, on the other hand, went to bed early because I had to leave home at 5:00 am to have the store open by 6:00 am. It was pretty awful as far as family holidays go. It was also the last year I worked retail during the holiday season.
I don’t mean to be whiny, but at that point in my life, it wasn’t easy or inexpensive for the girls to come to Michigan for a holiday. In addition, as empty nesters, having all three girls in the same place at the same time and spending a holiday together was a treat – a treat I really missed out on that year.
Mindset = Why
A positive mindset about your job, employment situation, or career requires having a clear understanding of why you do what you do. If you’re serving in the mission field because you want to help those living in extreme poverty, if you’re working in the emergency room on Christmas Eve so that a doctor-dad with four kids can be home with them, if you’re working a job for the income to pay the bills and make ends meet, you understand your ‘why’.
I fully understand the retail industry’s need for solid holiday sales, but I also think that when the ‘why’ of sales numbers becomes more important than employees, that’s a problem. (I no longer work or shop on Black Friday. It’s just not worth it to me.)
I know that I’m not the only person who’s ever had their holidays interrupted by work. I once had to go to the emergency room for stitches on Christmas day, and I was certainly glad the doctors and nurses were there. But this is where the ‘why’ comes in. Hospitals are open 24/7/365 because illness and injuries don’t take holidays. Firemen, policemen, and our armed services are on duty every day because they’ve taken an oath to protect us 24/7/365.
To have a positive mindset, you have to fully believe in the ‘why’ of what you’re doing.
A Means to an End
In 2012, I was working as a bookstore manager in order to help pay for our girls’ college education. My job was merely a means to an end.
As we go through life, it’s important to take time every once in a while, to evaluate where we are and where we’re going. It is helpful to look at ‘where you are’ as a means to an end – ‘where you’re going’.
If you discover that where you are is no longer on track with where you are going (or want to go), then it’s time to make a change. I loved many things about working at the bookstore – the friends I’d made, my employees, the customers, the books, and more. But once the college bills were covered – we made the final payment in February of 2013 – my position as a bookstore manager and the stresses that came with it were no longer helping me reach my life goals and priorities. It took me a while to fully recognize this, but once I did, I happily resigned from my position in May of 2014.
I think, sometimes, God allows us to be miserable where we are in order to move us along to the next season in our lives. I just wish I hadn’t been willing to put up with misery for quite so long. In my current season Rehearsing RetirementTM, I am trying to recognize that prompting more quickly.
Life Goals and Priorities = Lifestyle
Time and again, as I look at where I am and where I’m going, my life priorities of Home, Health, and Happiness are reaffirmed.
- Home – family, friends, church, community, and a safe and comfortable place to live
- Health – emotional, spiritual, mental, physical, and fiscal
- Happiness – spending time with loved ones, helping others, doing things that I enjoy, reading, learning new things, and traveling (not necessarily in that order)
If what I am doing is not helping me reach one or more of these goals and priorities, then I’m on the wrong track.
Why Live This Way?
Why not? Look at your life and ask yourself, are you living and loving your life now? Or are you putting off the life you really want to live? Why wait? Perhaps Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome from 161 to 180 AD, said it best.
“Live not one’s life as though one has a thousand years,
but live each day as your last.”
“You will give yourself peace of mind
if you perform every act of your life as if it were your last.”
I hope that every single one of you lives a long and healthy life filled with love and joy and that all your dreams come true. Unfortunately, the reality of life is this won’t happen for everyone.
I absolutely don’t mean to be morbid or overly emotional, but every one of us knows someone who didn’t or won’t make it to retirement. The longer I live, the more strongly I feel that we need to live life to its fullest today while responsibly preparing for the future (in that order).
The Rehearsing RetirementTM Mindset & Lifestyle
Greg and I are nearing retirement, and we have been preparing for it and saving (somewhat responsibly) for years – more on that in upcoming posts. In the meantime, our life philosophy – our Rehearsing RetirementTM mindset if you will – is:
Life is an adventure that should be fully lived and enjoyed every day.
We intend to live our lives by spending as much time as we can (or as is practical) doing all the things we’re looking forward to in retirement – practicing for tomorrow while living for today! Here are a few items on our list.
- Enjoying time with our girls, our son-in-law, and our grandchildren
- Traveling and exploring the world
- Learning about things that interest us
- Reading good books
- Spending time with friends and loved ones
- Playing cards
- Eating delicious food & drinking good wine
- Helping others
- Getting healthy
Once again, not necessarily in that order! By the time retirement rolls around, we plan to be pretty good at it!
Now it’s your turn!
Picture the life you want to have in five years and ask yourself if what you’re doing today is helping you reach that life.
You may not be able to say goodbye to working full-time or a career quite yet, but no matter what stage of life you’re in, there are things you can change, things you can do today to live your life more fully. What are they?
What’s on your Rehearsing RetirementTM list?
Leave a comment below, and let’s get this conversation going!