Barbara Beskind is 91 years old and on the payroll at IDEO, a design and innovation consulting firm in Silicon Valley. She still commutes to work one day a week. Three years ago she saw an episode on CBS’s 60 Minutes about IDEO and decided she’d like to work there. They hired her and today she is busy developing a portable airbag to help older people prevent serious injuries when they fall. Barbara is undoubtedly someone who has figured out how to enrich her retired life. Enrichment in retirement is supported by four key anchors or wellbeing – physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual.
Physical wellbeing is achieved through good health, fulfilling work and financial well-being. We can ensure good health by eating a balanced diet, getting enough physical activity and maintaining a positive outlook. Fulfilling work is also essential to wellbeing. While work takes on a different meaning in retirement, it continues to contribute to a sense of purpose. It may include maintaining a home, continuing to work in some capacity at a paid job, volunteering or caring for our grandchildren. The challenge is to find work that satisfies our needs and at the same time, doesn’t feel like drudgery or a burden. Financial wellbeing is also important. It is essentially measured by the amount of income we have and our ability to comfortably manage any debt load. According to the Globe and Mail, 43% percent of retirees carry debt. Debt is a reality. The challenge is to find the recipe that works best so that we can live worry free and focused on the lifestyle we can afford.
According to a Statistics Canada Report on social activities, 87% of retirees have either no social activities in their life or only one. Emotional wellbeing comes from the quality of social relationships we have with family, friends, life partners, and through work or volunteer activities. These relationships are critical to nurture wellbeing and to contribute to the wonderful memories we create. It is essential, therefore, to seek out those relationships that give us the greatest joy. Rather than wait for others to invite us to connect, we may need to create opportunities to connect with others.
While religion may have lost some of its influence in the last fifty years, studies show that spiritual wellbeing plays a greater role in retirement (Clark and Schellenberg, 2006). As we age we are more likely to attribute more importance to spiritual beliefs. Perhaps it’s because we gain clarity on the values and principles we cherish and the philosophies that guide the actions we take in life. Spiritual wellbeing comes from having a sense of purpose and a connection with the greater community we live in. It is also expressed in the compassion and love we show others and by acting on what our heart calls us to do in every aspects of our retirement life. Seeking guidance or working with a professional coach can be very helpful in redefining our passions and direction in retirement.
Intellectual wellbeing helps us to understand ourselves, our environment and the leisure activities that bring us the greatest joy. You may be surprised to learn that only 10% of the retired population continues to participate in educational activities after age 65, according to Statistics Canada. That’s a troubling stat, given the well documented research that shows learning as the best way to stay intellectually healthy. It isn’t for lack of opportunity to continue to learn. Many universities offer free courses for seniors over the age of 60, on a host of topics; and there are countless conferences to attend. When we appreciate what is present in our environment we’re at our best. At this point in our lives, the most rewarding leisure activities should leave us feeling refreshed and include fun activities with our spouses, families and friends. After all, laughter is the best medicine.
Regular renewal is a critical part of maintaining well-being and retirement provides the perfect opportunity for renewal of these four anchors. It is one of the smartest investments we can make to support a rich retirement life. Renewal reduces stress, promotes peace of mind, enhances well-being and promotes integrity with our truest purpose. Tending to these four anchors will ensure an incredible legacy for our loved ones, support independence and ensures a retirement life that is rich with possibilities. And isn’t that what we all wish for? Barbara Beskind (full story at http://n.pr/1cLo0kR ) is certainly an inspiration to us all.
By tending that you have good balance in each of these four anchors will ensure the richness you want in retirement. Most people understand what to do when the physical or intellectual anchors are out of balance but many struggle to understand what to do to maintain the emotional and spiritual anchors. Understanding the triggers that let you know when your physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual anchors are out of balance will help you make the changes that are necessary.