Lifelong Learning: You Can’t Escape It

Laptop computer

Life is about learning. Sometimes it may be difficult, sometimes it’s a pleasure but, either way, it’s always about the changing circumstances of life and the education that is associated with that change. If we have to learn anyway, why not do it purposely? The Internet has made that so easy, it’s a shame not to pursue some online learning. I truly believe that discovering new things helps me to develop new skills and enhances my life in ways that might not be evident right away.

Are there benefits to learning? Of course there  is:

Provides an escape and is a good pastime
Reduces stress by giving your mind a mini vacation
Increases confidence
Provides knowledge which is powerful
Improves your mental outlook by helping in goal setting and achievement
Allows for some ‘me time’
Is an opportunity to rediscover past interests
It can be fun to pursue

Some of the best news about learning online is that so much is free to use.

Open Culture: Boasts 1300 free courses offered online.

Open Education Database: This site claims that they have 10,000 free courses to choose from.

Universal Class: My Library card allows me to take classes from this site for free. Check with your local library about this benefit.

Study.com: A long list of universities that offer free courses.

This is just a sampling of sites that offer online courses. There are many more waiting for us to sign up and start learning.

Have you taken an online course? Be sure to leave a comment.

Life Morphs

A picture of a path isn’t a very original or creative illustration for an article about life planning. I’ve been guilty of being unoriginal in my life plan, but now I’m stretching my creative wings to plan a retirement that is anything but ordinary.

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Our life plan has experienced some recent changes. My spouse finally came around to my way of thinking. I’m not sure what his reluctance was about, but he finally saw the light. The interesting thing about his change in thinking is that what I’ve been proposing recently is something we dreamed of doing many years ago. It’s now possible. It wasn’t possible then.

You know when something isn’t right when you aren’t enthusiastic about it. The things we were discussing about our retirement were ordinary. There was nothing about our plans that was exciting or even interesting. I knew I would have regrets if we followed that path. It’s all about making the best choices and when you find the right path, you will be filled with motivation. It’s still possible to fail, but staying on track minimizes that possibility. Keeping focused is key.

The problem with setting goals and envisioning how your life will progress is the constant changes of life. We’ve all done it: decided what we want, determined the steps to get there, and before we achieve success, we found that we didn’t want it anymore. .

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
-George Elliot-

Now, it’s all about a new direction. Start by creating a vision and not just goals. How does a vision differ from a plan or a goal? A vision is the general direction. A goal is more specific. Think of a clear vision as a compass which will continually point you in the correct direction. Having your own vision prevents others from directing your choices. My vision of our retirement is to elicit a “Wow” reaction from people I tell about it. Nothing else will do.

This will take some time and it must be cultivated before you can design the details. Answer the general “What do you want?” question. It seems like a simple thing. Keep focused on what you want and leave what you don’t want out of the process. If you pursue what you want, then things you don’t want will likely stay out of the way. Of course, this has to be realistic. You can’t plan bad things out of life. They happen.

Give yourself permission to dream, and to dream big. This isn’t about what should happen in your life. Things we must do are a part of life and will never go away, but they are often confused with the “shoulds.” Know the difference between things that have to be done and those that should be done. There aren’t many choices in “have to” but there are many in the “shoulds.”

One last piece of my dubious wisdom: Enjoy the journey. Life is short.

This Time It’s Gotta Be Right

I always thought I should earn an advanced degree.
I always wanted to write.
I always wanted to travel extensively.
I should have majored in photography.

These are a few of the overwhelming array of possibilities that I could pursue in retirement. Maybe, I should have done all of these things by now, but the reasons I haven’t yet pursued them are irrelevant.

Many of us have regrets in life, especially when it comes to what we could have been when we grew up. I am no different. While I don’t think I did poorly, I do think that when I was young, I didn’t set a search that was broad enough.

options

This time, with retirement, I’m looking at everything I can think of that’s possible for me to do. There’s only a little time left, as depressing as that sounds. Certainly, there are more years behind me than ahead, but there is still time to do something major if I want to and more than enough time to do a bunch of little stuff.

It all boils down to the question: What do I really want to do? That’s harder for me to answer than I thought. I guess I’ve never decided what I want to be when I grew up. I’ve had lots of ideas, but the little devil on my shoulder, whispering all the pitfalls that will come with a decision, often wins and I abandon the thought.

There is time for some things, but not all of them so deciding what’s important and doable is the goal. How to Make Decisions is an article published on the Real Simple website. The author divides us based on our decision-making style:

Poll Taker
Procrastinator
Overcautious
Make Snap Judgments
Overanalyzer
Overconfident
Waffler

I see myself in several of the descriptions.

I sometimes put off making a decision thinking that there will be time later. When there are too many choices, it results in a paralysis. I’m afraid I’ll make the wrong decision, and there won’t be time for a do-over. Sometimes, I make immediate decisions without adequate thought.

In my mind, a procrastinator and someone who is overcautious are two sides of the same coin. Am I procrastinating because I’m overcautious or is my caution causing me to put off the decision? Which came first and does it really matter?

giraffe

In the movie We Bought a Zoo, Matt Damon’s character explains that sometimes in life, you only need 20 seconds of courage to get what you want.

That’s what deciding what to do in retirement is about–finding 20 seconds of courage to make a decision and not worrying beforehand that it might be wrong.

Orchids and Other Stuff

When you no longer have a job, it is tough to find a reason to get up every morning. What is it about work that defines us and why is it so difficult to replace that purpose? Enter the hobby.

Orchids

I bought Orchids for Dummies nearly 10 years ago with the thought of giving orchids a try. A couple of years ago, we bought our first orchid. We now have several and we would buy more if space allowed. Contrary to common belief, they aren’t difficult to grow. Like all plants, they have their preferences for water and light and, if you get those right, they do very well.

orchids2

Growing orchids, or any other type of plant, is a hobby worth pursuing. So is woodworking, crocheting, building model airplanes or dozens of other pursuits. I truly believe that the quality of your life is improved by having hobbies.

Orchid

Now in retirement, our hobbies are particularly important. It provides a bit of incentive to get out of bed each day.

Check these links for some really good hobby ideas:
A Huge list of Hobbies
A Massive List of Hobbies

Changing Life, Changing Work

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Retirement doesn’t always mean work stops. That’s the quickest way to the rocking chair and once you are there, can the grave be far off? The question is: Do we want to continue in our current job or do something else?123

Life must have a purpose and working provides that purpose. This is something I’ve struggled with since my sudden retirement. What can I do now? Maybe I should ask “What do I want to do now?”

Certainly, there were some things that are now off the table. The space program doesn’t want a gray-haired grandmother. The Metropolitan Opera actually wants someone with a beautiful voice. Who knew?

If you can foresee a change in your future, here is some information to help you along.

How to Change Careers from the Wall Street Journal

Finding the Right Career–from The Help Guide.org

Tips for baby boomers wanting career change–from the Tampa Bay Times

How Boomers Can Reinvent Their Careers–from Fox Business News

The Garden Conspiracy

The garden is in. Spring has arrived. All is good. Not.

I think there is a conspiracy afoot that purposely sabotages my garden every year. I’ve had late freezes, droughts, heat waves and critters all wreaking havoc on my tender, little plants. This year the critters struck first. I put in my pepper plants with a handful of crushed eggshells in the hole. Something out there thought that egg shells would be a good treat. Four out of six peppers were dug up and destroyed. I found two upside down, but still in their newspaper pots. They’ve been replanted. They may not survive.zukeplant

The next thing to hit was the weather. We had a heavy downpour the day after I put in my plants. Most of them came through, but the rain hammered the little zucchinis. One didn’t make it. The others look pounded but are hanging in there. I put more seeds directly into the garden to replace the lost plant. I’ll hope for the best.

If I had to survive on the produce from my garden, I would be much, much thinner. I hope the day never comes that I have to turn my property into a working farm just to survive. I won’t give up on growing some of my own produce. It brings me joy.garden

Cooking Like a Copycat

A few years ago, we decided that eating at most restaurants wasn’t really worth the money. Yes, it was nice not to cook. Yes, it was nice to go out, but the food wasn’t the central focus of the event. Of course, restaurant meals are no way to cut the food budget and, if it isn’t good, why bother.

Copycat recipes can replace the food that is missed by cooking at home instead of eating out. Last week, I tried one of my husband’s favorites–Jack-in-the-Box tacos. I tried to follow this recipe, but I didn’t have everything listed. I had to make refried beans and, of course, they don’t taste like those from a can. I didn’t have the specific taco sauce called for in the recipe, so I used what I had on hand. I’ve never had a Jack-in-the-Box taco, but I thought they tasted fine. The expert, my spouse, said they tasted fine but were nowhere near the real thing. I guess I’ll have to go out for a taco dinner to know for sure.

Buddy

If you miss some of your favorites, there is a recipe for just about any restaurant dish: