By Bob Lowry
For the last few years I have chosen a specific word for the year. That is, I pick a word that summarizes some of my goals or aspirations for the coming 12 months. in 2015 my word was “move,” which turned out to be quite appropriate: I moved away from a neighborhood Betty and I had called home for nearly 30 years. My dad died in March, prompted several moves on my part to deal with my parents’ estate and the obligations that come with death. While on vacation in Portland in August I suffered a mild heart attack, triggering a move in my lifestyle to one designed to keep me above ground (!) for as long as possible.
For 2016 I have settled on consistency. Defined as a steadfast adherence to certain principals, consistency can be applied to several important areas of my satisfying journey through retirement:
- Health – To protect my heart, increase my overall energy level, maintain the appropriate weight, and remain as vibrant as possible, my approach to my health must be consistent. I can’t walk a few miles a day and ride my bike this week, then come up with excuses to slack off next week. That double cheeseburger with bacon is calling my name; I must pick up a fork and have a salad, piece of chicken, or fish instead. While an occasional splurge is fine, a consistency in making health a priority is essential.
- Finances – As I write this the U.S. financial markets have had a horrible few weeks. Triggered by a slowdown in China’s economy, a non-stop fall in oil and commodity prices, unease over the world’s response to various terrorism threats, and maybe the uncertainty of our political future, stocks have fallen enough to get my attention. Even so, my approach to managing our financial resources must keep the big picture in mind, consistently sticking with the plan has worked for several decades. Adjustments, yes. Panic, no.
- Relationships – Betty and I are in our 40th year together. We moved about 25 miles to be within a few minutes of our grandkids and family. Our in-laws now live 3 minutes away after their recent move. Our youngest daughter spends quality time each week with us, at a movie, out to dinner (I know, watch what I order!), or simply spending time together at our home or her place. With my parents now both dead, and Betty’s parents passing 25-30 years ago, I realize even more than ever the importance of a close, nurturing, consistent family relationship.
- Staying mentally active – A week ago Betty and I signed up for a new streaming service from Great Courses. In the past I have purchased several of the educational company’s DVD courses on a variety of topics and always enjoyed the material. Now, hundreds of the catalog offerings are available for a set annual fee. I can stream what I choose, and as much as we want, to the TV, tablet, or even cell phone. We have already picked half a dozen to start us off. The typical segment of most courses is 30 minutes, perfect to watch while we have lunch.
- Spirituality – My faith is important to me. I have seen the effects on my life when I am listening, learning, and responding on a consistent basis. I have also experienced how things tend to go bad or become less pleasant when that consistency is missing. I will freely admit there has been a loss of focus in this part of my life over the last 6-7 months. Some of it has been the move to a different part of the area, thus leaving behind our church and friends. Part of it has been the upheaval that comes with a household move. And, part of it has been laziness. It is easier to skip a church service, not read the Bible on a daily basis, and slack off on prayer time. This year that must change and become a regular part of daily life.
Consistency doesn’t mean being static or content with what is. This year, for me, it means an active approach to my satisfying journey. It means staying focused on what is important and what gives meaning to my life.
Do you have a word, or a guiding principal for 2016?
By Bob Lowry