What's It All About, Alfie?
In this classic movie, Alfie is led to face the product of his ways.
Alfie, in the movie of that name (1966, 2004), lived a fairly proflagate life. And it was not until later in his life that circumstances conspired to make him try to answer the central question of the movie: "What's it all about, Alfie?"
Many people in the U.S. live their lives often without much attention, not usually in a proflagate manner, but very busy just the same. Day-after-day, they plow ahead with tasks and experiences, often failing to wonder about the purpose of it all. After all, we're told that life is for the living, live in the Here and Now. The present is all we have.
Not to argue with those sentiments. But when it comes to retirement, a natural time for taking a look back presents itself. In Charting Your Personal Future, we think of this as a first step and it's termed, Review. What has my life been like so far? What have I learned? What are my interests, my values, and more. In fact, we want to ask: "What forces have kept me going all these decades?" And what are the implications for the future, when I am retired? And maybe a bit of the "Alfie question," too.
Interestingly, in Okinawa it is said there is no word for "retirement." But there is a central organizing word in that country, or life concept, called "ikigai", according to Dan Buettner (in an interview by Hugh Delehanty). Buettner researches "Blue Zones," the areas of the world where people are most likely to live to be 100, disabiity free. (By the way, these areas are: the aforementioned Okinawa, the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, Sardinia, the island of Ikaria in Greece, and a Seventh-Day Adventist community in Loma Linda, California.
Back to ikigai: it means "why I wake up in the morning." The answer(s) to that BIG question can tell us alot about our purpose. It can be a revealing, and often rewarding, exercise to ask ourselves that question at any point in our lives, and certainly as we are either anticipating retiring or have taken that step. Moreover, as we approach what may be the end of retirement, and of life, the importance of reviewing is elevated once again, as we may try to Reconcile our many life strands. Alfie prominently takes another bow.
Retirement begs for thoughtfulness. It is not primarily a gut-driven action, nor should it be. No, retirees who do best have examined themselves enough to discover what motivates them, helps them to persist, and how to match their assets with opportunities that may present themselves in their retirement future. And, make no mistake: that future can be lengthy, perhaps some 30 years or so, in the best of worlds. Hey! We all need to have a pretty good idea of "what it's all about" as we venture forth.
So, now, take a moment to step back, "Alfie." What has it all been about for you to date? Reflect, then jot down what you realize:
Continue this kind of thinking, and begin to link it with your thoughts of retiring. Doing this is well worth your effort.