Your Bottom Line In Retirement: Will You Focus On Growth Or Decay?

Are You Expanding Or Contracting?

Because of work and family commitments, many of us have sacrificed our health for the promised rewards of a secure future and a comfortable retirement.  To use an old sports metaphor, we Boomers are essentially in our “fourth quarter” of play. We’ve worked hard, sacrificed, raised families, and now it’s finally time for retirement. Some of that sacrifice has led to chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The health care systems we trusted all those years assured us that all of our ailments could be controlled with “proper medication.”

Some of us now want to get off our “meds” and start living the lives we envisioned all those years while working.

If this is you, and you would like to:

  • Regain your natural health (get off or greatly reduce meds)
  • Achieve and maintain a high functioning quality of life (avoid assisted living)
  • Improve your vitality, work, and play capacity (garden, play with grandkids)
  • Regain your confidence to explore and try new things

I encourage you to continue reading and see what might be possible for you!

Societal Programming

First, don’t fall prey to societal programming that tells you that you are too old to do something. I encourage you to examine your beliefs regarding the difference between your chronological age and your attitude age. As baseball legend Satchel Page once quipped, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” Let this question start to set the tone for the rest of your life. I firmly believe that most people can resume activities they once enjoyed IF they are willing to do the physical preparation necessary. You may not be as quick or strong as you once were, but you can still be out there enjoying your passions. Don’t be the person who talks about what you used to do; be the person who is still out there doing it!

Foundation of Good Health – Diet & Exercise

Second, the foundation for good health has been the same for centuries: diet and exercise. Hippocrates counseled us centuries ago, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  Arguably, this is a simple concept but difficult for many in practice. Our human body is designed to move; that’s why we evolved into upright beings. There is an expression in the exercise world that motion is lotion. I understand and empathize with arthritic joint pain, for example, but if you seriously reduce inflammation through improved nutrition and move those joints in an appropriate manner, things usually improve rapidly. At a minimum, you are aiming to be able to perform your activities of daily living (ADLs) efficiently and pain free.

Your New Job in Retirement

Third, your health IS your new job! I honestly can’t think of anything with a higher priority in your life than your health. Health is not just the absence of disease but includes your robust physical, mental, and spiritual health. Some of us have put some hard miles on our bodies, but you will be amazed at the rejuvenation capacity of your body. Give it what it wants and needs (good food, water, sleep, a little exercise, no stress) and voila! You will be feeling and moving better already.

There are some recommendations along the way, but remember: You know what you need to do. My gift is suggesting bite-sized progressions to keep you moving forward at a pace suited for you. Make a commitment to yourself and trust yourself to know what’s best for you. For far too long, many of us have abdicated our right to and responsibility for our total health. We were led to believe that the answers were outside of us in the form of institutions and experts. I’m not suggesting that you stop listening to advice, but you need to turn up your crap detector and resurrect your critical thinking skills. You are your own best advocate for what is best for you and your body.

Your Daily Choice

Fourth, I invite you to make the daily choice that was put forth by the authors of the fabulous book about healthy aging titled Younger Next Year (Chris Crowley and Harry S. Lodge, M.D.), and that daily choice is:


In the beginning of this piece I used the similar terms expanding or contracting. Please use whichever word pair suits your personality and mood, but use them! This choice can serve as your personal litmus test for how you are doing in all areas of your life. When I refer to all areas of your life, that includes:

  • Working toward improving your physical capacity for daily activities, sports, and play
  • Reading and lifelong learning opportunities
  • Exploring your relationship with your authentic self
  • Confronting your fears and not allowing them to stifle your growth
  • Rediscovering or turning up your creativity (everyone has something  creative to contribute)
  • Eating healthy foods

So let’s take action and start or continue growing and expanding!

Remember: It’s YOUR movie



7 Responses

  1. Great advice Ken and we really appreciate your take on retirement. Silvana and I could not agree more. We humans are creators and if we are not creating and striving to be better, more balanced, then health issues are sure to follow. We miss you here in Cuenca but
    hope that all is well where you are now. Thanks for a empowering article that can make a difference in people’s lives.

  2. You hit the nail right on the head. What you stated here was part of my New Year’s Resolutions. In addition to increasing my exercise, and improving my eating habits, I also began a new Bible study program and started reading more about self-improvement. I discovered Marisa Peer on the Mindvalley website. She has a great outlook on life and can really explain it all in very simple terms. Thanks for the wonderful post.

  3. Precisely. It’s a choice. Everything we do in life is choice. Most people don’t realize they ALWAYS have a choice, and the potentials are a great deal more in number than we usually know. And yes, most of us live by default, regurgitating the stuff we have been hearing all our lives and not realizing we CAN choose differently. And we get a chance to choose every day, every moment. Attitude is EVERYTHING and ACTION is essential to materialize that intention. Every moment, every day. Ask yourself, “Am I worth it?” well, are you? ” CAN I change?” and the answer is “Are. you still breathing?” And finally, ” Do I want to?”
    My question is, “What if. you do, and what if you don’t?”
    Wonderful wake up call, Ken!

  4. Great to hear from Ken again. I now go to Pilates at PhysioGym and Ken’s instructions from his old class here have helped me to continue to be active. Thanks for your words of wisdom, Ken!

  5. Love your perspective on this! I am “retiring” from old limiting beliefs, overworking, a life out of balance, and putting passions on hold. What I am embracing is a new life in Ecuador, an open mind, health and wellness, and finding a new like-minded, and like spirited community to be a part of, and to contribute to. My best days are ahead!

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