Have you ever wondered why Scandinavian countries continue to show up at the top of all surveys and research done on happiness? Especially when you consider that for much of their winters they have very little sunlight and temperatures are freezing. Still, over and over those countries demonstrate that the people who live there rate highly in what most researchers call “subjective wellbeing.” So even though that environment is near the bottom of my personal list of where to live, and I doubt the people there walk around with giddy smiles on their faces, they clearly have something precious and desirable. Is it possible that what makes living there so unparalleled is something called “lagom?” And could it be that lagom is just the Swedish word for the practice of rightsizing?
This weekend I will be turning 66 years old. When I was young that sounded pretty old, but as any of us who have arrived here (or beyond), our age has little to do with how we think and feel at a particular number. I am actually quite happy to be 66 for all sorts of reasons and while I can’t do some of the things I did at younger ages (nor do I want to!) , my awareness, my sense of self and the world, my internal and external resources are far, far better than then. Plus when checked it out, I realized that SMART Living 365.com will be turning 10 years old in a week or two. So it is a time of birthdays for both of us and what better way to celebrate than to throw my version of a potlach! Are there gifts? Of course—what kind of potlach would it be without them?
Some people probably don’t realize one of the gifts of blogging is the people you will meet on the journey. That’s why when one of those “gifts” sent me an email a few weeks ago telling me they would be in town this week, I responded immediately. Yes we could figure out how to do a physically distant “safe” lunch—but I had a condition. Would they also do a live interview with Thom and me? Of course doing a live interview outdoors is tricky enough. Then throw in the restrictions of a pandemic, other people, and swarms of gardeners and you never know what you will end up creating. However, when you are willing to take a chance with your blog, your vlog and life itself, great things can and do happen. Thanks to Michelle and Jedd Chang from IntentionalTravelers.com for a great interview. And a special thanks to Thom for managing to film and edit another complicated Vlog for us all despite the challenges!
Are you facing a transition in your life? If yes, you might be interested in a new book I’ve just finished by a fellow blogger named Patricia West Doyle. Pat is the author of Retirement Transition—An Innovation Approach. And even though I’m not yet retired, I still found a few ideas in it that could prove valuable to others—especially those of us facing a transition. Of course, when you think about it transitions happen repeatedly to all of us over the course of our lives. So why not prepare before we’re in the middle of one? [Read more…]
Are you a victim of “lifestyle creep?” No matter how good a rightsizer you are, and I tend to think I’m usually pretty good at it, chances are you occasionally find yourself slipping into the creep now and then. I know I do. That’s because in our culture, nearly all of us are continually lulled into slowly but surely living just a little more comfortably, a little more extravagantly, a little more indulgently than in the days, weeks and months before. How does that work?
Slowly over time, any spending that starts out as a splurge—like a $4.50 latte at Starbucks to treat ourselves, a pricey bottle of wine to celebrate, or going out to dinner on a special occasion—can gradually become an almost daily necessity if we make them routine. Those acts are often triggered when we start making a good salary or get a raise. After all, we have the extra money, right? And as that “creep” of spending just a little more than yesterday becomes a new norm, we often find ourselves needing more and more such “rewards” to keep us happy and satisfied. If we aren’t careful, we can reach retirement with nothing to show for it. Fortunately, I believe a good cure for the dreaded lifestyle creep is to stay as mindful and focused on rightsizing as possible.
Some of you might not know that I have been a licensed real estate broker for the last 35 years. While I did sell a number of homes in my time, I am a far better researcher than a salesperson. That’s why I first began writing about real estate, and then eventually created my own writing business from there. And although I have written volumes about that topic over the years, I gradually transitioned into writing about other subjects I enjoy even more. Still, real estate has been very good to my family, many of our friends, and where we hold our primary retirement funds. So it always surprises me when I read so little about the advantages of real estate investment as a great strategy for retirement. Why? Maybe there aren’t enough of us pointing out how real estate investing can be a golden goose for your retirement over stocks and other investments.
This week I’m happy to introduce you to Michele Vosberg as my guest blogger while Thom and I are traveling. Michele is one of the most recent bloggers I began following in 2018, but when I began reading her posts I knew without a doubt that she fits into the SMART Living lifestyle. With a strong intention to help people become all they are meant to be, her blog Life Redesign101 is sure to help any of us who appreciate self-awareness and personal growth. Thank you, Michele, for filling in for me and sharing some of your ideas about rethinking (and rightsizing!) our goal setting for the future.
This is the time of year that many of us are focused on goal setting for the new year. At this stage of life, we are likely accomplished goal setters. We have successfully navigated the demands of the working world. We’ve also successfully juggled the responsibilities of caring for homes, children, pets and even parents.
We have manipulated our Day Planners and multi-tasked our way through many projects and life challenges. We don’t need another lesson on S.M.A.R.T. goals (not to be confused with SMART Living!) We don’t need a bigger planner with more hours in the day. We want to get off the hamster wheel, live in the moment and enjoy our lives without checking off our accomplishments on an endless to-do list. [Read more…]
As many of you know, I’ve been writing about rightsizing for several years now. The concept of rightsizing constantly helps me to focus on designing a meaningful life journey—not a particular destination I’ll ever fully experience. So when I recently came across an article about how values offer a similar perspective, it caught my interest. I’ve since learned that values, like rightsizing, are a direction. Sort of like getting in the car and heading north. You might be more north than you were yesterday, but you’ll never arrive. Once we discover how to live our values or how to rightsize our life, we are better able to appreciate the road we are traveling, regardless of whether we hit a few road bumps or we ever even reach a final destination. [Read more…]
A favorite parable of mine is the story of a poor farmer who owned a horse. One day the horse broke free and galloped away. All of his neighbors witnessed the calamity and rushed to his side to sympathize with him for this misfortune. He simply responded with a shrug and said, “Maybe yes. Maybe no.” That story illustrates just one of the valuable points made in the book The Geometry of Wealth – How to shape a life of money and meaning by author and investment educator Brian Portnoy, Ph.D. While most of us are familiar with the assertion that beyond a base level, money doesn’t make a person happier, Portnoy offers a more thorough perspective. At the same time, he reminds us that there are usually at least two sides to every situation. And it appears that money may be exactly the same. [Read more…]
As many of you know, Thom and I recently returned from a trip to Ajijic, Mexico. Like every place we travel and enjoy we tend to end up looking at local real estate. Sure we have a background in the business, but in this day and age I believe lots of people have toyed with the possibility after watching television shows like House Hunters, International. Who doesn’t dream now and then at living somewhere exotic, in a unique and special property? This visit we seriously considered buying a Bed & Breakfast Inn attached to the apartment where we stayed. Not only was the property for sale, it is located in a great location, is in excellent condition, has great income potential and plenty of romance to make the purchase intriguing. We even contemplated converting it to co-housing where we live part time with a bunch of fun-likeminded people. And with our background, we know we could figure out how to buy it if we set our minds to the task. But the thing is, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. [Read more…]