Showing posts with label Retirement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Retirement. Show all posts

August 29, 2019

Go Years of Retirement

Thought this was an interesting perspective on retirement.

There are three phases:

1) Go-Go:  You retire and are eager to enjoy your newfound freedom, and you spend the time and money to really do the pursuits and travel that you always wanted. 

2) Slow-Go: After the initial adventurism and spending, you settle in some more and spend your time on quiet activities, socializing, and relaxing. 

3) No-Go: This is the wind down phase, where you spend most of your time at home and at a certain point, may need some assistance to do everyday activities. 

Obviously, the last phase is sort of depressing, but it too is a part of life.  

Like a bell-shaped curve, we are born, grow, mature, and then decline.

This is the cycle of life for every living thing. 

It takes maturity and courage to face it and to make the most out of every single moment that we are blessed with.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 7, 2018

Bills, Health, and Purpose

So I wanted to share some wisdom from one of my best friends. 

He was telling me about some of life's stresses at work, home, etc., and he said even though every looks forward to retirement "one day," the problems don't go away. 

He mentioned some examples of people he knows that retired relatively young and with a pension.

Nevertheless, he said:
They still worry about bills, about health, and mostly about purpose!

And even though they don't have the day-to-day grind in the office, he said:
Their own stress is as real to them as mine is to me.

I couldn't help reflecting on his words and thinking how smart this was. 

No one has it all!

Everyone is this world has fears, worries, and problems. 

And you know what?  It's okay.  

Life is about us confronting what seems unconfrontable and becoming better human beings because we did. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 5, 2017

From Cradle To Grave

It's funny how in organizations talk about the lifecycle of people. 

From a full lifecycle perspective, it's "cradle to grave!"

In terms of lifecycle on the job, it's "hire to retire (or to fire)."

Really the lifecycles are intertwined. 

It starts with the cradle...we are born and go through a maturation process that focuses on our education and preparation for life. 

Then we get hired into our (hopefully) dream jobs, where we spend our careers until we retire--or if you mess up badly and get fired or decide to change career course--you may have to go back to "go" and "do not collect $200" and you get hired again for another career round. 

Eventually you retire and start your 2nd life in retirement, where please G-d, you have the health and prosperity to enjoy the fruits of your labor and your families. 

Ultimately, our lifecycle ends at the grave with the death of our bodies--our souls go on to Heaven and live forever basking in the light of the Almighty. 

Thus, the human capital lifecycle. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 16, 2015

DC Is Not NYC

This is a funny sticker on the streets of Washington, D.C.

It says, "This is not New York."

And it advertises a website called StuckInDC.com.

"Formed by a few friends who've probably lived in the capital long enough, but lack the wherewithal to move elsewhere."

Having come from NYC, I can empathize in many ways. 

The DC metro area is great if you are interested in working in some very cool jobs for the Federal government, and it has a fairly nice lifestyle for families here (clean and green). 

While not as exciting as NYC (it doesn't have the vibe), it's also not as dirty, congested, or generally dangerous (in DC, there are lots of gun-totting federal agents everywhere).

If you yearn for someplace nicer to live, maybe Florida for the Caribbean climate, beautiful nature, slower lifestyle, and fun atmosphere or then again, there is always the awesome Holy Land!

For now stuck in DC, after retirement who knows. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 10, 2015

The Unsustainable U.S. Economy

The U.S. National Debt often touted at an enormous $18 trillion is really more than 3 times that amount and closer to a whopping $65 trillion!

That's when you actually count all the unfunded liabilities for civilian and military pensions, retiree healthcare, social security, and medicare.

For each of the 318.9 million people of that United States, it mean $203,826 of debt or for a family of four that's a debt of $815,303.

Put another way, the entire net worth of Americans is $84.9 trillion, but after subtracting the debt of $65 trillion, it drops to just about $20 trillion--coincidentally around the amount of our new debt ceiling.

Moreover, with the richest 1% owning more than 50% of the wealth by 2016 that leave only $10 trillion or $31,675 for each of us--not so hoity toity for 239 years of independence and founding as a nation or all the blood, sweat, and tears we put in every day of our lives.

In terms of our escalating debt, just this last year alone, social security spending went up to $944,143,000,000 or the equivalent of $6,345 for every American with a job. and this is projected to dramatically rise with the retirements of the baby boomers.

Projections are for social security to exhaust its funds by 2035, which could result in across the board 20% or more cuts in benefits of the already meager program where many seniors end up eating cat food.

Additionally, the retirement age already set to go to 67 by 2027 could be forced to go even higher, and social security would likely be curtailed or eliminated entirely above certain income levels.

Is this the financial security and brighter future we are leaving our children and grandchildren?

We can kick the can down the road, but the unsustainability of it all will eventually come back to haunt us. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Pictures of Money)
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January 17, 2015

Temptation Or Accusation?

So on the way home from synagogue today, my wife and I are talking about what happened to the renown Harvard constitutional and criminal lawyer, Alan Dershowitz.

He was accused of having repeatedly had sex with an underage woman (while he was married with children and grandchildren).

I explained to my wife not to believe these accusations, that in my mind, Dershowitz was upstanding and completely innocent, and that this could happen to anyone.

And I went on to tell a funny story from a day earlier...

I was at a retirement party for one of my staff who served the country for 51 years.

At the party, I am going around talking with people and helping to make everyone comfortable--until I didn't.

One guy who was a retired manager and had come back to work as a contractor calls me over to his table to introduce me to his wife. 

He's motioning to her and saying how she is his most beloved wife.

And just joking around trying to keep a straight face, I say, "Hmm, she's a lot different than the other woman I see you with every day."

[Yeah, I don't know what came over me (maybe a little to much drink--any drink is too much for this dry mouth).]

His wife, is like, "Ah ha! Some other woman in the office..."

And he's leaning back, waving his hands and mouthing to me, "Shut up Andy!"

He goes, "Okay Andy, you just wait until I meet your wife!"

Then, we all broke out laughing...just Andy being a wise guy again!

So, I said to my wife, you see how easy it is for someone to make a false accusation (and how quickly people can be to think the worst of others).

It really is important to treat people as "innocent until proven guilty."

As for Andy's hijinks...I'm banned from any more parties for the next few weeks. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 11, 2014

I Watch The Years Go By

So two quick stories on getting a little older...

First story:

After my workout today, a guy follows me into the elevator.  

He opens conversation and asks me, “Did you have a good workout?”

I said, “Sure did! What did you do today [for exercise]?”

He motions his arms up and down like pushing some machines and doing some curls, “A little of this and that [long pause]...You know I’m 80!”

I said, “Wow that’s awesome that you still work out--can I ask, how do you do it?”

He replies, “The key is to always keep going, and not to give up.”

I say, “Yes, but also I think it has a lot to do with the One Above.”

He nods in agreement, although still looking determined to keep himself pumping away in the gym. 

As the elevator doors open I say, “Well, I sure hope you can keep going like this for another 80 years.”

He gives me a warm smile, and says, "I hope so too."

Second story:

One of my colleagues at work is retiring after an amazing 51 years of service to the government. 

Now this guy having been around awhile has a really nice engraving of the agencies seal hung on the wall in his office, and months ago, I had commented to him how beautiful and special it was and that “they don’t make them like they used to.”

He said, “Well you know what? When I retire, I’m going to pass it on to for safekeeping.” I thought that is nice, but also probably just talk as they say. 

Well recently, he has announced his "big day" and so he stops by my office, and in his hands he is holding the beautiful seal engraving--he puts out his arms, handing it to me. 

I was like, “OMG, I didn't really expect this. This is great.  Are you sure you want me to have it.”

You says, “Absolutely!” referring back to his promise a number of months ago.  Then he pauses, obviously thinking for a moment, and says to me, “But you have to put in 51 years of government service also! [big smile]”

I said, "That's a noble idea, but honestly, I think I started a little late for that. How about we go for 30 or so with G-d's help?"

Anyway, thinking about these two events, I am not quite sure how these amazing people do it…years of doing, giving, and with a great attitude--and always a desire for another round to go. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 11, 2013

The G-d Watch - Live With The End In Mind


I used to have this manager who was within a couple of years of retirement.

She kept a jar of beans on her desk. 

Each bean represented one day of work. 

And every day, she would take one bean out of the jar. 

This was her way of counting down to the end of her career (and the beginning of her retirement).

Anyway, trust me when I say, that we were counting down too--even without the beans. :-)

At work, some people may even say of someone just hanging on or just hanging-out waiting to retire that they are Retired In Place (RIP)--a pun, on rest in peace. 

Uh, not funny, but when people know the end is coming (either for career or their life), they often change their behavior--they focus on what what's coming next. 

With the end of career, perhaps they are imaging sunny skies, palm trees, and margaritas in retirement.

And with end of life, people are often thinking about judgement day--and how they spent their lives: in love or hate, purposeful or without direction, doing good or taking advantage.

So it's very interesting to me how this company, Tikker (funny name, as a watch often makes the sound tick-tock, but also a person's heart is referred to as a ticker), developed a watch (the Death Watch) that not only provides the time, but actually counts down--years, months, days, and even hours, minutes, and seconds--not that they can be so precise--to your expected death. 

The watch is supposed to give people new perspective and encourage them to live a better life.

Someone who is going to purchase the watch fills out a questionnaire with information on family health history, age gender, and race, and then they get their estimated date of death, for the countdown! 

With the DOD (date of death), we now know what we are dealing with--for better or worse--and of course, subject to change, by the One Above.

But like the boss looking to retirement who took out a bean a day from the jar, we too can look towards our own mortality--not in a sad way, but in a fundamental human way--one that guides us, with the end in mind, to make better decisions for the time we have in life. 

Despite, what almost every young person seems to believe, we are not immortal--and the stupid things we do when we are young or throughout of lives comes back to haunt us (whether smoking, drinking, overeating, or other bad stuff). 

And so we must choose to live every moment, not as if we have forever, but rather with purpose, passion, and poetry--until the clock runs out on all of us, as it inevitably will.
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July 12, 2013

Living Longer, But With Worse Quality Of Life

Watching my parents age over the years has been hard--and very painful. 

They are good people--they've worked hard all their lives (nothing was just given to them), they are devoted to serving G-d, and they are loved by their family, friends, and community. 

They have lived a good life and we are grateful for every day.

Yet as they are getting older, the body like anything physical, starts to get sick and break down. 

Both my parents have serious illnesses, and in the last two years my mom has become almost totally disabled and is moving from a rehab center to a nursing home this coming week. 

I read this week in the Wall Street Journal, what I've been watching with my own eyes...we are living "longer, but not healthier lives."

Over the last 2 decades, life expectancy has risen 3 years to 78 years, but unfortunately only 68 of those, on average, are in good health--meaning that people suffer for about ten years with various disabilities.

What is amazing is that people are being pressed to retire later in life with an increase in age to receive full social security benefits to 67 by 2022--giving the average person a healthy retirement to enjoy of just 1 year!

With the average working household having less the $3,000 in retirement savings, things are not looking too good for Americans to retire young and enjoy their healthy years either. 

Additionally, despite longer living, in the last 2 decades, the U.S. fell from 20th place to 27th place in 34 member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for life expectancy and quality of life.

The leading causes of death remain heart disease, cancer, and stroke.  And disabilities are being driven by back, muscle, nerve, and joint disorders. 

Seeing with my own parents, the deteriorating quality of life and true suffering as they age, I am left questioning the real wisdom of keeping people alive, when the quality of life has so deteriorated as to leave them in pain and misery. 

While no one wants to lose their loved ones--the emptiness is devastating--at the same time, watching them endlessly and needlessly suffer is worse. 

I see my mom clutching her wheelchair, always in various states of discomfort and pain, and less and less able to help herself, in almost any way--it is tragic. 

So I ask myself is it also unnecessary and wrong? 

I call it forcing people alive. We keep people going not only with extraordinary measures, but also with day-to-day medicines and care that keeps their hearts pumping, their lungs breathing, and their brains somewhat aware. 

The patients are alive, but are in a sense dying a long and painful death, rather than a quick and painless one. 

I love my parents and mom who is suffering so much now, and I don't want to lose her, by does really caring for her mean, at some point, letting her go.

I tell my dad, "I just want mom to have peace"--no more suffering!

For the average person, 68 years of health is too short, but 10 years of disability and suffering may be too long. 

We use advances in technology and medical breakthroughs to keep people alive. But what is the cost in pain and disability, and even in cold hard dollar terms for a nation being gobbled up by deficits, longevity, and miserable disease and disability? 

People are living longer but at a significant painful price! 

Is this real compassion and empathy or a senseless fight with the Angel of Death? 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to wwwupertal)


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December 14, 2012

See Yourself In The Future

Now seeing how you will look in the future is not just theoretical anymore. 

Merrill Edge (Merrill Lynch investing + Bank of America banking) has an online digital program that shows how you will look aged over time. 

They developed this as tool to encourage people to save more money for retirement by bringing home the message that you will not be young (and beautiful) forever. 

The Face Retirement tool asks for your age and gender, takes your picture, and then displays snapshots of how you will look over the course of your lifespan. 

I tried it and my smiling face was quickly tranformed into an old man with sagging skin, wrinkles, and more. 

My wife seeing those pictures says to me (even though we already save for retirement), "We better really start investing seriously for retirement!" -- gee, thanks! ;-)

And thanks Merrill Edge, you scared us straight(er) by looking at our own mortality, face-to-face. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Judy Baxter)

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January 20, 2012

That Special Cane

After seeing one of my colleagues with this souped-up cane at work this week, I learned that this is the special gift for someone reaching their 50th birthday.
This is not an ordinary bamboo cane as you can see, but one with a rear-view mirror for passing, a honking horn for warning people out of your path, and even a little green change purse for the toll. :-)
While I am no spring chicken anymore, I am still not old enough to receive my special cane--oh shucks!
But this did give me pause to think about what it means as we get older and the weeks and months at work turn into years and decades.
Before we know it, the up-hill climb of life, plateau and eventually heads in the other direction.
It reminds me of whenever someone asks my father how old he is...he flips the numbers--so for example, when he was 72, he would say I "turned" 27 and so on
It's not easy getting old(er), we all want to be back in our youth or prime of life, which my father calls the time period, "when the world is too small," and I think what he means is our aspirations are large.
This week at work, I learned that one of my colleagues who retired just a few years ago passed away from one of the horrible "C's" -- it was terrible to hear this.
Moreover, it reminded me of other colleagues who I have seen work hard their whole life, sacrificing and putting off all types of enjoyment, and waiting for that big day when they would retire and then they "could live the good life."
And one guy, I remember, did retire after putting in his time and within about 3 months, he dropped dead of a massive coronary--I don't think he even made it with heart beating to the hospital.
Life is too short! And of course, life is hard--that's how we are tested and grow--but we can't wait for the good times. We need to savor every moment of our lives, appreciate our loved ones , and enjoy what we do day-in and day-out.
Else, we may miss the finest times that we have here on earth and then we really will be left holding that special cane and looking back at our lives in the rear-view mirror wondering why we wasted so much precious, precious time.

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