By: Bob Grafe, Columnist
© Did you know that you only have 10,512,000 minutes left to live? That is correct if you are now a senior citizen age 65 and you expect to live to be age 85 – allowing for 20 more years of living.
Put another way, you have 7,300 more wake-up calls and a little more than 1,000 weeks to get all those things still remaining to do in your life … done!
Look at it this way: You have the same time available and remaining to complete an entirely new career – the same as does a man or woman just beginning a 20-year career in the military. And, you have the side benefit of no one actually shooting at you.
There’s still plenty of time to get done what you want to get done – but, you have to go about the task with a well thought-out plan in place.
So, where do you begin?
Perhaps the first order of business is to inventory all of your personal time and financial expense commitments that now encumber your personal 24-hour day and your bank account.
The financial expense commitments portion of the inventory will probably be the easiest to complete. The personal time commitment portion is much more difficult because it is much more personal involving your emotional investment with many friends and relatives in your life.
As you review your personal time commitments be sure to ask yourself, for example, if you are committed to spending one weekend each month away from home with grandchildren, or a special civic organization’s project, or teaching special classes at your church, or with helping out with duties at your senior citizen center, or maybe committed to visiting dear friends and relatives in rest homes, or maybe working at a part-time job that you really enjoy, or maybe just spending a quality weekend at home with your spouse … or any number of other good things to do “one” weekend each month.
Well, something has to give because you run out of month before you run out of that special “one” weekend each month – it looks more like “every” weekend is taken up and then some.
A high level of personal time commitments for on-going activities that are not considered by you to be “very” important may interfere with your desire to complete your list of things that you want to get done – while there is still time to do so.
Once that current inventory of personal time commitments is completed, take a deep breath and prioritize the inventory list into three areas: Very Important; Less Important; and Not Important. Keep the list private for a few days while you ponder what you have written down. Then, review the list and make appropriate changes that you have thought about.
Now, with a blank piece of paper, using the same inventory list categories of Very Important; Less Important; and Not Important, write down those things in life that you really want to accomplish during this “next” 20-year career of yours that is just waiting to begin. Prioritize your list and then let those private ideas incubate for a couple of days before you make changes to your “final” prioritized list of things you want to accomplish.
Like it or not, the “other” list of financial commitments that you will have to complete during this life’s inventory process will help to bring into focus those important items that you want to get accomplished – and that you can actually afford.
For best results with your future list of accomplishments, be totally honest with yourself when you complete your financial commitments analysis. Don’t be tempted to over-state or under-state either projected expenses or income.
These simple steps will help to un-clutter your life allowing you a better picture of what you want to accomplish with your remaining years – what is truly important to you.
It will help the process along if you begin by placing all of the televisions in your house in the garage sale that you should have. Garage sales help to un-clutter your life. Or just drop all your “junk” off at a Goodwill Industries collection site. Remember, one person’s “junk” is another person’s “bargain.”
Be sure to get a receipt for your donation since you also have another 20 or so annual IRS tax return forms to complete between age 65 and 85. Maybe you’ll find some hidden tax right-offs among your treasures donated to Goodwill or other charitable organizations.
To help with the “financial” un-cluttering process, you might consider canceling those subscriptions to unread magazines, special “discount” membership offers for “seniors,” those “special” credit cards now infrequently used, and other commitments that may not provide you with the benefits once promised but seldom delivered – but still cost you that monthly or annual fee.
Likewise, it is probably a good time to continue with your personal time commitment inventory tweaking by evaluating your membership in various worthwhile organizations. Some community organizations may still offer you an opportunity to be of service within a specific area and some national organizations may continue to offer you an opportunity to contribute time or funds for good causes.
But, some have outlived your ability to contribute either financially or with your time and they may need to be dropped from your list of commitments.
Once your life is a little less cluttered, your personal time commitments and financial commitments inventory tasks are completed and well thought-out, your next 20-year career will be ready to tackle with gusto – perhaps just in time for the new year!
Submitted by Bob Grafe for publication on Thursday, December 10, 2009.