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Much of the time, people preach the merits of taking immediate action in pursuing activities or goals.   So, are there times when procrastination is an advisable approach?  The answer is an emphatic “YES.”  Here are 10 circumstances where procrastination has a distinct, positive outcome.

  1. When you have a major decision to be made and either you cannot reach your partner either for endorsement or agreement.
  2. When you cannot agree with your partner or spouse on the action to be taken, it is best to wait to get an affirmation or let emotions settle so compromise or agreement can be reached at a later time.
  3. When a catastrophic event (such as death of a partner or child) occurs, it is best to let events unfold before responding with major decisions.
  4. When decisions are requested without having appropriate background information or sufficient facts, or the input of other important parties who are impacted by the decision; procrastination is preferred.
  5. When you are asked to make a commitment or promise, and you lack the ability to deliver the results, defer your agreement to a future time.
  6. When you lack the funds to pay for a purchase or deliver on a financial commitment, it is best to put off the financial commitment to a future time when you can afford it.
  7. When circumstances have spun out of control and you need time to think about solutions, procrastinate and don’t jump to conclusions.
  8. When a seller is pushing you to buy and you need time to think about the purchase decision.
  9. When pushed by your manager, family members or friends to join in an action that appears inappropriate, or worse unethical or illegal, don’t proceed in joining them in an ill-advised action.
  10. When your gut or intuition says you will later regret the action to be taken, choose not to proceed ahead or entirely stop from taking action.

Procrastination does have its merits, but all too often when it comes to retirement planning folks procrastinate with unfortunate results.  Too many people put retirement planning on the back burner, thinking that the day will come when they will be able to seriously pay attention to it.  In reality, time has a way of moving rather quickly and many individuals are caught in the trap of having to face retirement without properly planning for it.  For example, when losing a job and finding it difficult to find a replacement job; or when a major health problem arises either for themselves or a loved one. The result is last-minute panicking. Even if the individual has saved for their retirement, they are left in a quandary as to how to plan for a new career or what to do with their leisure time…  Not the best of all possible worlds!  So what is the final message?  Haste makes waste, but thoughtful advanced retirement planning certainly beats the alternative.

Sometimes, leaving until tomorrow what you can’t decide today is a good policy.  But, in the case of retirement planning, it is never too early to start envisioning your future and putting the relevant pieces into place.

MAKE TIME YOUR PARTNER AND FRIEND!

Donald C. Strauss © 2010

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Article Originally Published on EzineArticles

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Bucks

It seems that almost everyone loves to look at pictures, hence one of the reasons for success of Facebook, YouTube and SnapFish.  Today’s small cameras are flying off the shelves, whether from electronic stores or from one’s local chain drugstore.  It is anything but unusual to see individuals taking photographs with their cell phones.  Movie cameras are also becoming ubiquitous.  So, why is it so different when it comes to individuals videotaping their possessions?

Now, a question for you:  When have you videotaped your possessions?  If you have done this, how many years ago was this performed?  If you have not performed this task, why haven’t you done so?  Is it too difficult to pull items out of drawers or closet shelves?  Or is it procrastination?  Perhaps you might suggest your overlooking this task is due to of a lack of time or equipment.  If so, could you borrow a video camera and make it fun?

Make Your Project Fun

Could you make the videotaping session a fun project, shared with someone?  For example, could you do it like a time trial, to see how quickly each room could be recorded?  Could you play the game of “Let’s see which room contains the most items, or the most items in daily use?”   How about the “Hidden Treasure Hunt” game?  “Gosh, I never knew I had this or forgot I had this!”  “Wow, there’s money in this suitcase!”  And of course, there’s always: “Who can I give this to?” and perhaps get a tax deduction.

But I Have Insurance

Let’s take a step back for a moment.  We all know that we live in a world filled with risk.  That holds true, of course, for ourselves and those we love, whether from an accident, illness, or catastrophic event which can befall any of us.  Our possessions are also not immune from risk—fire, theft, wind and water damage and so forth.  You are probably thinking that this is why people purchase insurance. We live in a dangerous world and insurers will only cover what the insured party can prove they owned.

Bottom Line

What’s the “Bottom Line” of this short article?  There has to be a way for you to find the time to keep a video of your “stuff.”  There is no time like the present to make “an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure,” so anticipate and prepare for a possible catastrophic event.  Get that camera out; prepare to have more carefree days ahead.  If you don’t do it, who will?

© Donald C. Strauss, 2010

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Article Originally Published on EzineArticles

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How many years are you going to live in retirement?  That is a very difficult question and, in fact, in most instances a virtually impossible one to answer.  No one of us has the magic crystal ball that can look into the future.  We can look at actuarial tables and identify the number of years that remain for us based on our age and lifestyle.  In fact, about 8,000 Boomers are entering retirement age every day.  This statistic is further clarified by the fact that people are living longer and there are more centenarians than ever before.

Given that no one knows how long they are going to live, we still need to PLAN for the possibilities of living a longer time.  That said, how many years are you PLANNING TO LIVE in retirement and what are you doing about that?  Now, this is another difficult question but one everyone needs to answer.   Some take on the challenge of addressing this question early, i.e., they are planners who begin the task of projecting a long lifespan early in their working careers.  These planners, typically in their early to mid-20’s begin to see their need to accumulate wealth in anticipation of eventually purchasing a home, saving for children’s education and also saving for their eventual retirement.  In many ways, these individuals are the lucky ones, second only to those born of wealth, because in both instances, these individuals will largely be in control of their destiny. Although no one can clearly project the future, they, like the fabled “Ant and Grasshopper” children’s tale have set a course of success for their eventual needs.

And, then there is the largest segment of the population who are putting their future and their eventual needs on hold.  Because of circumstance or choice, the proverbial “saving for a rainy day” are just words or a concept they are unable to address.

So, let’s return to the question, “How many years are you going to live in retirement?”  The answer may be found in the following questions:

  1. How good is your health and what are you doing to maintain good health?
  2. How strong are your relationships (and will your family and/or friends be there to ease your way through your later years?)
  3. How secure are your savings and how substantial have they become?
  4. Do you envision being thoughtful and energetic in using your free time or leisure time to give fulfillment to yourself and others (i.e. adding to the quality of your existence?)

Think carefully about your answers to the above questions.  In the final analysis, the more complete your answers and plans, the better you will be able to provide a positive answer to the question, “How many years are you going to live in retirement.?”

© Donald C. Strauss, 2010

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Article Originally Published on EzineArticles

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• When her daughter leaves to meet with her business clients, Janet loves to take over watching her granddaughter and teaching her new things.
• Jack is a tinkerer and gets a kick out of using his lathes and other tools to make furniture for his friends and family.
• Bill enjoys being a mentor and coach in the “Big Brothers” organization.
• Nat often attends his son’s softball league games and feels appreciated when giving his son pointers on improving his pitching stance.
• Joyce finds it difficult but rewarding keeping up with younger women in aerobics classes.
• Rick has started a monthly 60+ age men’s networking group and enjoys the camaraderie.
• Phyllis does shopping for several seniors at a local independent living center.
• Fred attends financial planning seminars at his local community college and uses his new-found knowledge in investing in the stock market.
• Jill frequents the library and reads their periodicals on health and diets and loves trying out new recipes.

Does one need to feel fulfilled in retirement? The short answer is “Yes.” But, what one considers fulfillment is unique to each individual.

What key word stands behind all of these examples—“accomplishment.” It is the sense that one is doing something for oneself or others that makes a difference in their lives. This sense of achievement need not be substantial or significant. It need only be an activity that provides meaning to the person performing it.

If ever there is a time in one’s life to have the freedom to choose, to give happiness and a sense of achievement, it is in retirement. And, what is so appealing about seeking fulfillment is that it can be done, even if one is financially strapped. Take the illustrations above. Almost all of these examples cost no money, or very little, perhaps a small enrollment fee. What do they gain—opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others or gain the satisfaction of personal growth or self learning.

There are many individuals (and perhaps you know them) who say, “I’ll never be able to retire, as I had planned or when I had planned.” These statements, although possibly true, should not hold you hostage and promote a negative outlook. In fact, in virtually every case, retirement can be enjoyed and found to be fulfilling. Is half a loaf better than none? “You bettcha!” Everyone has some modicum of free time and retirees generally have more time and opportunity than full-time workers. Make the time, even if limited, a time for fulfillment for yourself, if not for others as well. If you won’t do it, who will?

© Donald C. Strauss, 2010

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Article Originally Published on EzineArticles

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Many young people today have two impressions of retirement, i.e., that it will be “fun times of lazy, happy days and lounging around” or it will be “years of sadness filled with financial and health issues.” Neither picture is accurate and creates a false sense of what will be in store for most of us.

Retirement life has been changing rather dramatically in recent years. Charlie Davidson wrote in “In the Service of Baby Boomers: A Seismic Mind Shift for Financial Service Providers” that retirement for most of us can really be dissected into 3 stages:

Stage 1: Individuals seek fulfillment and are in good health. This phase varies in length by individual or couple, but typically lasts from several years to as many as 15 or more years. During this stage, the individual seeks to achieve many previously unfilled goals. Examples include travel, time spent visiting friends and family, attending or participating in sports events, theater and so forth and/or working full time or part time in an occupation that could be built around a passion (like consulting, writing, mentoring, or helping others.) This stage is not to the exclusion of working for a living, particularly in these tough times. Nevertheless, it typically reflects the opportunity to apply skills and competencies to new challenges that will provide fulfillment to each individual on his/her own terms.

Stage 2: This stage is earmarked by the encroachment of a sense of “been there, done that,” meaning that there is less need to travel or participate in accomplishing something, volunteering, helping others, etc. There is less a sense of having to be out and about. At this stage, the individual begins to lack the energy for big initiatives, like overseas travel, lengthy walks or hikes, hours on the golf course or a tough game of tennis. Individuals at this stage would still continue to get out, shop at the mall, head out to dinner and the theater, attend religious events and so forth, but would relegate their activities to those close to home. Spending time simply talking over a meal, watching TV, puttering around the house, reading a good book, and gardening appears to make life feel complete. Living the simple life seems to be the way to satisfaction. Continuing some exercise routines is recognized as important to maintaining one’s health, although aches and pains, more meds and eating less is reflective of this stage. Stage 2 typically lasts 10-15 years, and is often experienced by individuals in their late 70’s or early 80’s, into their late 80’s or early 90’s. Sometimes this stage arrives earlier but rarely does it last into the late 90’s.

Stage 3: This stage is often associated with how retirement used to be viewed, a time of limited activity, with some level of infirmity and/or a greater reliance on others for care and sustenance, i.e., shopping and food preparation, housekeeping, etc. Individuals tend to slow down, nap more, and find themselves living the sedentary life. They will venture out for occasional trips to see friends or relatives, the theater, attend religious services, etc. Sharing stories and observations, or recalling earlier life events, bring moments of great joy. Watching TV, playing cards, reading books and newspapers, mark the passing of one’s days. Some like to continue being creative through small woodworking or arts and crafts projects. Journaling and writing memoirs are also fulfilling at this stage of life. Certainly happiness can be found at this stage if one takes care of one’s self, or even if one needs the help of a caregiver. The simple pleasures of feeling reasonably healthy, having a pleasant day and communicating with friends and family make life worth living.

Each stage requires different funding for that lifestyle. Stage 1 requires money for travel, housing and fun. Stage 2 requires money for entertainment, medical care and maintaining one’s lifestyle. Stage 3 requires money for occasional entertainment, more medical care and possibly caregivers.

So what’s the bottom line? Life in retirement comes in phases or stages, but there is a consistency with each stage continuing to be focused on freedom of choice, fulfillment, friends and family and enjoyment. Let’s hope this is what your future holds, because, honestly, nothing could be better for each of us than to experience the full extent of all of these stages.

© Donald C. Strauss, 2010

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Article Originally Published on EzineArticles

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In these challenging financial times, ever-increasing numbers of individuals
are finding it more difficult to retain their housing. Simply stated, they need to reduce their housing space and their “stuff.”

They either have to store, sell, or give away a percentage of their possessions.
What are you finding with reference to eliminating stuff yourself personally?
Are your friends and family also dealing with the need to pare down possessions?

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Statistics paint a rather bleak picture for retirement.  Even with the current economy in a downward cycle and unemployment at a record high, you can still create a happy, fulfilling future in your retirement years.  You can have it all and the formula is not what the financial firms and magazines generally would have you believe…either save more, work longer, or delay retirement altogether.

So, what is the formula for success?  Before giving you the answer, one needs to think more broadly than just how much money you will have and can it last throughout your remaining years.  Obviously, this calculation is important, but more to the point, one has to think about the type of existence that would make you happy regardless of your financial and physical condition.  For success to exist, you need to think more holistically and take account of the following areas:
1. The quality of my future relationships with family, partner or spouse, friends, adult children and even grandchildren;
2. The future state of my health and if I have ailments, how I cause them to have a minimum impact on my lifestyle;
3. The future location and condition of my house(s) and/or rental property;
4. My future desire or need to work for money or fulfillment;
5. How I would like to present myself to others, i.e., how I would present my identity in the post-full time working world;
6. The reputation, persona, or legacy I would want to create and leave;
7. How I would plan to use my leisure time…for entertainment and leisure and/or for service to others in my family or in the community.

If your retort is, “How can I predict any of the above factors when I have so much on my plate today?” You are definitely not alone in this feeling.  And if your other response is, “I don’t think I will ever have the funds to retire comfortably and happily”, then think again!  No matter what the current state of your finances and health, you can achieve a happy, fulfilling retirement.

There are 3 “R” Factors that will provide the conditions for your future success in Retirement.  They are:
1. Re-frame     2.  Re-think     3.  Re-adjust

Re-framing

Re-frame refers to your ability to envision your future in realistic and also positive terms.  Re-framing, in the case of retirement, means re-examining your future living conditions or living arrangements so they will bring you happiness.

Let’s take a really serious situation and see how this operates.  Let’s hypothesize that an individual’s earnings have been cut dramatically or virtually entirely and that their savings have dwindled by 30%.  No longer can they go out to nice restaurants, send their children to a great camp, or take a distant summer vacation together.  On the other hand, they can still have fun and experience the joy of being together in different ways.  They can buy food and go on a picnic to a local park, take in a local movie or borrow a movie from their library and watch it together, plant and care for a garden together, go on a bike ride or hike together, play computer or board games together (like Monopoly, Scrabble, Chutes & Ladders or Charades).  The list is virtually endless on how they can establish a meaningful, happy existence together.  What it boils down to is creating a “can do” mentality.

If you look at the seven areas above, relationships can be maintained and strengthened in times of hardship; exercise can be increased to reduce stress (taking account of ailments); housing can be changed to make it more financially tolerable; money can always be stretched or communal assistance found, and so forth.  What it takes is picturing a favorable, realistic existence and then being mindful and committed to holding that future picture as a goal that could be achievable.  In the case of retirement, the two most important objectives are to create a future that will include meaningful relationships with others, plus a daily sense of accomplishment, or even more importantly, a sense of achievement and fulfillment.

Re-framing your future life in retirement requires answering many questions that you could pose to yourself about what that future retirement picture will look like.  For instance:

•    · What roles do I want to play with my family members, as a friend to others, or to my community, my church, and so forth?
•    · How do I want to be recognized and remembered?
•    · How will I use my leisure time for entertainment, learning and service to others?
•    · Under what circumstances and where will I hope to live or likely be living?
•    · Is there a passion or a mission that I feel needs to be fulfilled, and what constitutes fulfillment for me?

Re-Thinking

Simply stated, re-thinking is the ability to develop a plan (strategy being a fancy word for it) and a set of projects or tasks that will result in the happy future you believe you can realistically create for yourself.  Re-thinking is a process of taking your future vision and breaking it down into “bite-sized” pieces you can accomplish.  This process requires you to plan specific sequential actions that you will take to bring about that achievable, but possibly ratcheted-down future that you know can still bring you happiness.  Here are a few illustrations:

•    · You wanted that beautiful house on the beach, but now that dream is gone.  What about purchasing a small house a few blocks or a few miles inland from the beach?  Or, what about renting a nice house for several weeks instead…no maintenance worries, no property taxes, and you can choose different houses or locations over the years.  If you later come into money, you will have experienced multiple dwellings so you will know more about what to avoid or include in a possible purchase.
•    · The arthritis in your big toe has gotten significantly more painful over the years despite having had surgery to remedy the problem.  No longer can you walk long distances or play tennis.  Instead, how about taking up biking and joining a bike club as your new recreational sport?  Alternatively, how about golf and riding in a golf cart?

Re-Adjusting

Simply put, re-adjusting is taking specific actions to bring about the future retirement world you envision.  Building on the two examples above:

•    · Go on the Internet (Google) searching beachfront rentals in different communities where you would like to rent and determine what is being offered to compare rental rates.  Examine how big a place you want to rent and with what amenities.  Clarify what you can afford.  Visit properties online and/or, ideally, in person.  Make it a “fun” project and invite friends or family members into the decision-making process.  Perhaps, try negotiating for an early rental.  In the end, with proper activity or action, you might find that your beach days not only will be far from over, but actually far better than you had expected.
•    · That nasty old arthritic toe ended your 15,000 step walks, but now you find that you are able (through research and planning) to re-invent a “New You”.  After researching the cost of bikes, you bought a really good one for long distance trips.  You traded in your treadmill for an indoor bike. You put together a mini in-home theater-type set-up to watch movies while riding indoors.  With NetFlix and your DVR you can now see many great movies and shows.  The best part is (after doing lots of networking) you joined a cycle club and really enjoy the others in the club. You are looking forward to that camaraderie during future cross-country trips. You are also looking forward to building up your endurance for doing a great charity biking event of 100 miles after you retire next summer.

In summary, the bottom-line really comes down to thinking “outside-the-box” about your retirement.  The journey consists of discovering new possibilities, choices and pursuing various alternatives or combinations of activities that can truly bring you new-found happiness.  As they say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Copyright, Donald Strauss, 2009

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