One of my favorite books this time of year is Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. Made into the movie Christmas with the Kranks, starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis, the story follows a couple who decide to omit any sense of Christmas and go on a cruise instead. No parties, no gifts, no decorating, no Christmas. They think that by ignoring it, they can avoid all the activity and hassle of the season.
Of course, they end up spending more energy avoiding Christmas than celebrating it, but we understand their motivation. We all know the schizophrenic way most of us celebrate Christmas. The season of peace turns into frenzied activity to attend more parties, buy more stuff, and make our home look, taste, smell, sound, and feel more like our favorite memories of Christmas than last year.
There’s often too little time or too little money to do all that we want to do.
Retirement often has the same problem. We enter this season with a false expectation based on hype. We drape it with lights and shiny balls—and set our hope on all the trappings that we think retirement should have—and we ignore the substance of what gives those lights and ornaments any meaning.
What if we were to unwrap our expectations ahead of time and sort through to find the non-negotiables? I don’t mean whether we will have enough money to eat and house ourselves for long enough—that’s another topic. I mean the non-negotiables that give us a reason to get up in the morning: authentic relationships, feeling useful, accomplishing a life-long goal, knowing we continue to make a difference in someone else’s life.
At Christmas, when we join the shepherds and wise men to put kneeling before the Savior as our first and only priority, everything else that’s really important usually falls into place.
Retirement can be that way, too.
Plan far enough ahead. Prioritize the most important parts. And celebrate with Peace.
I wish you a very merry and peaceful celebration of Christ’s birth.
Begin the New Year by Unwrapping Your Retirement
About the author – Andy Raub is known as “America’s Encore Coach” because of his passion to help retirees repurpose their lives and reorganize their money. Andy is the author of the new book The Encore Curve – How to Retire with a Life Plan That Excites You and the founder of the Encore Curve Program. See how The Encore Curve process can help you clarify your life and simplify your money at EncoreCurve.com.