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Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

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These days, I interact with a lot of old people. My friends and I now have elderly parents. Lots of the folks at my church are elderly. Even my health club is by and large attended by people over 65. And no, I don’t live in Florida!

Being around lots of old people is eye-opening. I’ve observed that your quality of life when you are elderly is largely dictated by what you did in the preceding 70 to 75 years. From your finances to your health to your overall happiness, your lifestyle as a senior is a product of the choices that you made in your younger years.

The problem is that when we are young, we think that we are invincible. We irrationally believe that we will never be old. But with any luck, we someday will grow old! And if we have any brains at all, we will do what we can now, so that the final third of our lives is as great as the first two-thirds.

Below are some thoughts on how you can prepare for a great retirement at any age. Take them to heart, whether you are 22, 42 or 62!

Be Financially Wise: The first step in planning for your retirement is to take a look at your Social Security statement. Set up an online account with the Social Security Administration, so you can see the monthly amount that you can (more or less) expect to receive in Social Security when you retire. This is the bare minimum amount of money that you will receive per month once you stop working.

If that figure is not one that you’ll be able to live on, you’ll need to create a plan to supplement it. That may mean putting away money in a retirement fund. It may mean buying a property in which you want to retire. If you pay your mortgage off before you retire, then you won’t have a rent or mortgage expense during retirement. These are some of the many approaches to funding your retirement.

You also may want to continue working beyond the standard retirement age of 65. Frankly, if you love your job, there is no need to retire. Of course, you might want to cut back on your hours at a certain point. But if you continue to work through your old age, you will have a sense of purpose that you might not otherwise have.

Treat Your Body Well: Our bodies are like machines. They are designed to do certain things under certain conditions. If in our younger years, we ignore the way our bodies were designed to operate, our bodies will not serve us in our old age.

For instance, our bones were only meant to support a certain amount of weight. If we go beyond that weight, we put too much strain on our bones and joints, and ultimately, they will not function well when we are older. The same holds true of our diet. We aren’t built to be fueled by highly processed foods. Our bodies want fresh fruits and vegetables. If we don’t feed our bodies healthy, clean foods, our organs (heart, liver, kidneys) will not function optimally when we age.

Admittedly, you can live for a long time eating greasy foods, smoking and drinking alcohol. But if you do so, at some point, your body will stop functioning properly because you aren’t following the operator’s manual. Everyone thinks that they can beat the system and live recklessly and die healthy. But that doesn’t happen. Just visit a retirement home, and you’ll see very quickly who took care of themselves in their younger years, and who did not.

Better to be one of those “active seniors” who are playing golf and traveling well into their 80s. Keep a sharp eye on your weight, and adopt healthy eating habits now. You will thank yourself when you are 82.

Find Your Passion: Studies have shown that by learning new things, we can stimulate new brain cell growth. So, if you want to keep your brain sharp well into your 90s, you need to become a lifelong learner.

Find an activity or subject that you are passionate about, so that you are inspired to keep learning well into your old age. For example, my passion is writing. I will be writing and learning how to improve my writing until I take my last breath. I cannot imagine a life in which I don’t write on a daily basis.

I have a friend who is a Francophile. He has a passion for all things French. He speaks French, and he loves French music, food and wine. His goal is to someday retire in France. His passion for French will keep his mind working through retirement since he will always be learning new things about French culture and language.

Choose an activity that you love and become an expert in it! For instance, if you love painting, start today to work at your skill. Then when you retire, you might consider teaching painting as a second career. Or let’s say that you love playing the piano. That is a skill that you can work on for a lifetime and never tire of it.

The key is to find an activity that you love and can immerse yourself in for decades to come. As you become an expert in your chosen area, your brain will be challenged, and you’ll remain alert and energized through your retirement.

There is no better time than today to start preparing for that last third of your life. Consider what lifestyle habits you can change so that your golden years can be your best years. The good habits that you implement today will lay the foundation for a wonderful retirement.

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Books: “The Secrets to Success for the Working Mother” by Meerabelle Dey (https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Success-Working-Mother/dp/1546329544 )