Saturday, January 16, 2016

Make the Next 20 Years Great

That's what I wrote on the eve of the new year, as I faced the desolate yet winter-beautiful landscape of western Montana.

That statement was a reflection on my reflection of the past 10 years. I was recognizing this as a start of a new chapter.

I wasn't thinking of all the bad things that will happen in the next 20 years:
  • Loss of all or most of the remaining family members in the generation preceding mine
  • Potential health issues as I and friends and remaining family members head down the back side
  • And most definitely, the loss of all 3 of these dogs. Waaaaaaahhhhhh.

What I was thinking about was the looming horizon of my professional career, that time when corporate America will see me as too old to play. For better or worse, I do define myself in a big way by my work. It is who I am and what I do for most of my waking hours. I'm good at it and derive satisfaction from it. It's the thing I do best, so why wouldn't I say that I define myself by it. (Wow, one could write a whole post on that topic - hadn't thought of it that way before. It's the thing I do best. Defining myself by anything else would leave me disappointed.)

So when I say "make the next 20 years great", I mean that it's time to get deliberate about things. For the past 50 years, I've let my hard work and many successes and occasional failures determine the next logical step. That could prove to be risky if I continue to play it that way. So starting with my job change last month, of the 2 jobs I was offered, I took the lower paying job with the longer commute, because it would broaden my professional skills in the accounting field.

Do I have one more job change left in me? Maybe. And waiting 10 or more years to try to make it would probably be too late, depending on my value and the job market and economy at the time. So that's job 1 - realizing the potential that this new job offers to set me up for the next one.

Do I only have one more move in me? Where do I want to live for the rest of my life and what do I need to do now to set up for it. All I know is I want it to be warmer. So this is job 2, and it is linked with job 1. 

It also involves what I want to do with the house I'm in now. It's way too big for me, but it's where I am now and if you want to live in Utah, you gotta play the game. It's got good potential to be a rental, so keep that in mind as I move through this next phase. I want to do more with the yard and a few interior improvements. Get a handyman and keep up on the maintenance. Other than that, keep the yard improvements modest and save for the dream house that I want to build in the next place I move to. Hold off on the hot tub for now. Save the money. Keep working on the design that's already half formed in my head.

Keep the dream of personal financial advising alive - not the way I did it in 2006-2008, but the way I want to do it. Household financial management, bill paying, Mommy Math. Even tutoring kids, something I loved doing when I was younger. "Retirement" to me will simply be a transition from making the big bucks working for the man, to making the little bucks working for me, and probably doing more volunteer work again.

Keep the balance. While dealing with old age issues of parents, dogs, self, keep the other stuff going too. Agility with the dogs - what a great sport for growing old - physical, mental and social. Other things I enjoy: photography, making puzzles, writing this silly blog, keeping in touch with friends from all my past lives. Make time for those things.

Keep the body healthy. Find the right combination of gym, yoga, etc. Get the right frequency. I'll never be a 7 day a week fitness fanatic. 2-3 days is good enough for me and better than nothing. Continue to improve my boring diet by adding variety, but don't deny myself the good things - chocolate, a glass of wine while puttering in the kitchen.

Get a cat! They are so cool. I loved my cats back when I was a new pet owner. Then I got my dogs and that was even better. But a cat would be fun again now if things settle down. A cat and a dog that are best buddies - a long time dream as material for my photography hobby.

Travel and time off. Plan something, other than agility trips, quarterly. A winter retreat with my special girl Star. St. George this year probably since I can't take more time off to go further. In the accounting field, Dec-Feb is busy (I'm not in tax, it doesn't extend into April). So late Feb/Mar, that would be my Q1 break. Q2 - a birthday trip. Q3 - escape Utah during explosive July and go to upper upper Idaho as long as the family is still there. Get a little towable bedroom to have my own familiar space on my fair weather trips and agility weekends. Q4 - a fall trip to take pictures and enjoy the last of the good weather. Explore those places that I might want to live later.

That's my recipe for a good life. Now go make it happen!

Oh yeah, and enjoy the sunrise every morning on my new commute . . .

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