4 Steps to Moving Forward

“Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life — it has given me me. It has provided time and experience and failures and triumphs and time-tested friends who have helped me step into the shape that was waiting for me. I fit into me now. I have an organic life, finally, not necessary that one people imagined for me, or tried to get me to have. I have the life I longed for. I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I would be.” Anne Lamott — an American novelist and non-fiction writer, progressive political activist, and writing teacher.

For several months, I have been “following” blogs written by 20 & 30 year olds. They are a delight to read — all their enthusiasm and advice. They write everything from uncluttering your home and life, to books too read. I absolutely love reading them! 

As I read these blogs, I began to wonder what was out there in cyberspace for women much older. I did not find much! Oh sure, there’s AARP (boring) and a couple on older women’s fashions (also boring). The one thing I have found and read every day are several blogs on Genealogy. Are any of you following blogs by older women? If you are, and you are enjoying them, please pass them on to me.

Reading the fun advice these young women give, I began to wonder if the advice was something older women (and men) could benefit from. Of course, advice is advice to anyone at any age. So today we are going to look at “4 Steps to Moving Forward.”

As a new “retiree” I was so excited — no more 6 AM wake-up alarms, no more working 8+ hours a day. I could renovate my new, little retirement home. I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I could concentrate on my writing. I can read all day; stay home in bad weather — what’s not to love!! But the days slid by and I was getting nothing done.

Working over 45 years, I had a schedule that I had to followed. There was always so much to do and deadlines to meet. I think that all of us who have worked outside the home most of our lives have run into the “lack of a schedule or planning problem.” While I was reading the “young” blogs, I realized that their advice could easily be used as reminders we can still use in our retirement phase of life.

1)  What Is Your Project?
What is it you want to do? Travel to every state in the United States? Read the Classics? Renovate your home? Take a yoga class? Name and claim your project. My project is to write in as many arenas as possible: publish in a magazine (which I have already done), short stories, blogging (yes, blogging is writing), write about certain topics (which I have done), and my ultimate goal is to write a book or several books. But when you look at your project, it is way too big to tackle all at once. So then you go to step 2.  
2)  Break your project down to smaller, defined pieces.
A project the size of “reading the Classics” is huge. Are you going to read American Classics, or European Classics, or Russian Classics, or German Classics, or a mixture of all Classics? How many will you read to meet your goal: 50, 100, 500, a 1000? Do you have a favorite Classic author: Hemingway, Twain, Sandburg, Tolstoy, Austen …? If you do not know where you are going, how do you know if you have arrived?  
3)  Break the smaller, defined pieces down to “bite-size” pieces and write it down.
Even #2 may sound too big. So break your project down even further. Pick your author and get the book (the public library is full of Classics and you don’t have to buy the book or store it later). Now to break that down: how many pages do you want to read a day? Do you want to begin a “reading list?” Do you want to set a schedule to follow or read at random? Once you finish one book, what is the next book you are going to read? Then write your plan down! There’s something about committing words to a piece of paper that makes you accountable for your progress.
4)  Now do it!
Sit back and enjoy the read!!
Of course, we have done breakdowns like this all our lives, but it is nice to be reminded that the system works even after you retire. When I first retired I did everything at random and accomplished little. Now that I am blogging I need the “breakdown system” to keep me focused on where I am going. Being organized and productive when you are retired is not a bad thing. We have a lot to look forward to. But how do we know when we have arrived at our destination if we don’t “plan the trip?” Remember: if you don’t plan some of  your time for what you want to do, someone else will plan it for you. Now go and do!!
Today do something that will challenge you!!
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4 thoughts on “4 Steps to Moving Forward

  1. GOOD STUFF. I THINK I AM SEARCHING FOR ME–AGAIN! I THINK I HAVE TRIED TO BE WHAT I THOUGHT OTHERS WANTED ME TO BE. I WAS ALWAYS BUSY AND IN THE LAST
    FEW YEARS TIRED AND FRUSTRATED (AND SICK) — ONE DAY I REALIZED THAT I MIGHT BE TIRED AND FRUSTRATED BECAUSE GOD MIGHT NOT HAVE ASKED ME T0 DO THE THINGS THAT I’VE BEEN DOING! (OR AT LEAST MAYBE NOT ALL OF THEM…..
    I THANK CARL FOR ENCOURAGING ME HOW TO SAY ‘NO’ — AND FOR CHURCH FRIENDS WHO PRAY FOR ME. I HAVE ENJOYED DAKOTA SO MUCH THIS WEEK (HADN’T SEEN HIM SINCE 1ST OF JANUARY) AND I KNOW GOD MADE THIS HAPPEN. FUNNY HOW IT WORKS WHEN YOU ASK HIM…….

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    • Marjorie, I understand your thoughts. I think we all go through times like this but maybe we do not verbalize it. I am so glad you have had some time with Dakota. He is one special little boy!! Thanks for dropping me this note.

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  2. I agree with Marjorie, good stuff! These thoughts apply to those of us who are not retired too! We need to find balance between work and personal time and that can be difficult. I have made commitment to be more purposeful with my “off work time”. The Ruleless Women Bible Study has been a good jumping off point but another leap is in my future. Thanks for good advice at the right time.

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