Re-thinking life, not just retirement

Karl Teel

It happens again and again. This time, we are sitting on a white sand Jamaican beach, cocktails in hand, bellies full from a romantic dinner at the resort, waves lapping at the shoreline. We are relaxed and feeling exactly the way we hoped as we planned the vacation. What could be wrong?

In a sense, nothing. We have a great dialogue reflecting on our life, and we’re thinking, “We could live our lives here.” We reflect on the “go-go-go” nature of our lives back home and fantasize about always benefiting from good weather, relaxing, and not going full throttle.

Of course, there are logistics. Could we do some work here for income? Could we sell our assets and buy something here? Would we grow bored of this?

Then, the reflections revert back to our life back home. Perhaps it’s not about place, and instead it’s about process. Can we dial back on the hard-charging work schedule? Do we have “things” that cause us more stress than pleasure? Can we, in fact, find more relaxation at home? Is retirement something we can start easing into a step at a time?

Why does it take a vacation to bring about this analysis? The answer is simple, yet complex.

It is about place; at least the beginning of the process is. Just changing your surroundings creates an atmosphere where all the senses are stimulated: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. It’s logical to see how taking in all that new data from the senses can also put the brain in a mode to process new thoughts. The stage is set. It’s sort of the proverbial “it’s hard to see the picture when you are in the frame.”

This valuable insight opportunity afforded by a getaway isn’t just for those approaching retirement; it can be of value reflecting on smaller issues several times a year.

Corporate psychology seems to know this well. How many retreats and planning sessions are deliberately done off-site? Tons! And these off-site sessions tend to be among the most successful ones.

It makes sense to remove oneself from distractions in order to focus on other things. While a getaway like ours celebrating a 10-year wedding anniversary in Jamaica would be an obvious time for reflection, all getaways serve a similar value. If you want a fuller, more satisfying, more productive life, you must step away from your day-to-day life from time to time to reflect, relax, and get clarity of vision.

Vacation time isn’t “time off” from work or life, it’s time invested in better perspectives for better work and life. I believe a work life of 46 to 48 weeks a year is far more productive than one that stretches 51 to 52 weeks.

Similarly, your best life at home requires some time away from home. Be more complete and take a vacation!

On our cover

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is just one of many museums, scenic excursions, model train layouts, and other railroad-related experiences in the Mid-Atlantic. (Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania)

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