I watched an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Escape (Gordon Ramsay Meets His Match in Malaysia) and got caught up in the phrase “Aga Aga” used by one of the featured local cooks. Aga Aga, as Gordon Ramsay quickly learned, means to cook with any amount you want. You need to combine a lot of knowledge, a dash of experience and a pinch of creativity to make it work. I figure this concept can be applied to life in general, especially in retirement.
If you google “flexible retirement” or “being flexible in retirement”, you will find an infinite number of websites talking about flexible financing, flexible work, and flexible spending. Nothing about flexible plans, attitudes, or time. That’s what I’m talking about when I say “flexible retirement.” Retirement with aga aga.
COVID really put a crimp in the retirement plans of people, both those who had been retired for a while and those who were newbies. Suddenly, there were homes left unattended down south, grandkids growing up on Zoom, new health concerns, isolation, and steep technological learning curves. Extremely steep! Energy was shifted and focus was placed on how to get food delivered, how to stream movies, where to get some exercise, and how to keep in touch with friends and family. We all had to change. These first-world problems don’t consider the psychological adjustments that came with the pandemic.
And now, after living in pandemic conditions for a couple of years, we are still blindly going forward. Everything is new, but still the same, right? It’s important to let go of how things “used to be” and embrace the new normal. We need to do what is right for us. We need to use some aga aga. As Canadian Author Richard Van Camp says, “Make sure when you get back to busy, and we will get back to busy, that it’s on your terms.” (There’s a good interview with Richard on CBC.)
Many of us are now changing our plans to keep up with the continued uncertainties of the times. We need to step out of our comfort zones and embrace change.
Pivot. Learn to pivot, have a pivot. Pivot is a central point where you can turn and step in any direction. How cool is that? As I’ve said in previous blogs, it is important to know yourself. That is your pivot point. Once you know yourself, you will be better equipped to make decisions that get you going in the right direction. In other words, a pivot is a set of decisions that will add up to a change in direction. You can pivot when you are bored with your routine. You can pivot when something doesn’t go as planned, or when health or finances get tangled up and slow you down. Instead of feeling woe when something doesn’t go as planned, pivot and go in another direction, a path that is suited to your current situation. You can always go back…if you want.
Retirement is all about living the kind of life that you want. Just like people choose different career paths, the type of retirement you have is meant to be designed to suit your needs. What makes your spirit soar? What makes you sing with joy? A friend recently asked me if I could, with clarity, name something that truly brings me joy. I was surprised at how quickly the answer came, and how quickly I realized what doesn’t bring me joy. It is time to ask myself a few questions about that and make some decisions. Is it worth investing my time and energy in something that doesn’t bring joy? Perhaps a pivot is the answer. Being retired doesn’t mean you will spend all your days having fun, relaxing or following your pre-retirement dreams. Being retired means you will still need to deal with the things that come up in life. You will need to be prepared to deal with them.
Do you have things in your life that don’t bring you joy? Things that just aren’t working out the way you had hoped? Are you ready to pivot? Here are a few basic steps to keep in mind:
- Start from where you are.
- Figure out your goals.
- Look at ways to reach the goals that suit you.
- Think about how those ways may work.
- Make a plan.
- Go forward.
- If it doesn’t work, try again!
We tend to put a lot of thought and effort into our retirement dreams. Realistically, I think it is impossible to have an accurate picture of what retirement will be like before it happens. There is no way you can say with certainty how you will feel once you stop working, once the “honeymoon is over,” once routine sets in. There are a lot of things to consider, such as how retirement will affect your relationship with your family, your finances, your health, your social life, etc. Most of us don’t think about how we will re-evaluate our retirement life or create new plans if things aren’t going the way we expected. I thought I left that kind of thought process when I left work! It’s just different now. You re-evaluate for yourself, and not for someone else…the boss, the organization, the business. It’s about taking responsibility for your own destiny, right? (Daily Om: I really love this website, in case you haven’t noticed!)
In the “rat race” we call life, it can be daunting to think about your destiny, let alone take responsibility for it. It is definitely easier to go with the flow. But, once you make that choice and do it with intention, managing your destiny becomes much easier. We do have control over our actions and reactions, what we do and with whom we do it. Once we accept that, we will notice the opportunities that are awaiting us, including the ones that don’t bring us joy, but we will learn to say no to those. This is when we need to pivot, leading the way to bigger and better things that are more suited to us and make our spirits soar. Recognize your destiny. Learn to pivot to make it happen.
“Your destiny may be waiting for you, but whether or not you meet your destiny is up to you.” –Daily Om.