Category Archives: Best retirement plans

Improve Self-Esteem

We all want improve self-esteem because we want to feel more positive about ourselves. Here is what you need to know to improve yours.

Americans are more concerned with self-esteem than other cultures partly because we have many symbols of personal success in our society. Those symbols are our house, car, clothes, vacations, jewelry, and even what prep school our kids go to. Despite how superficial this may seem, its part of our culture. External objects of success can have an impact on self-esteem if that’s your yardstick. However, over time, these external measures tend to mean less as we understand their limited value.

As a therapist for over 35 years, I’ve had many opportunities to improve self-esteem especially with depressed patients. First I want to define self-esteem as an attitude that’s completely under your control. It’s a way to view yourself and the world. If this attitude was established in childhood, that’s where I would start.  So, see if you can pinpoint when it started, that goes a long way in understanding the cause. It often comes from an over stressed parent and not a result of anything you did.

THE ORGIN Being aware of the cause of negative feelings like a degrading parent or sibling helps put our feelings in perspective. Just because others blamed you, thats no reason to blame yourself. Some of us may have had toxic people in our past which we may have to accept and move on. We must release feelings of the past so we can move forward in a healthy manner.

SELF-AWARENESS You may not realize how amazing you are until you make a list of all your abilities, skills, and attributes. This is a written exercise because you will continue to add to it. I want to see a long list of even the smallest traits like making your bed in the morning or just being polite to people. Fill the page and pin it on your refrigerator to remind you.

RELATIONSHIPS Did you know that we take on the attitude of those around us? It’s important to step back and evaluate how positive our relationships really are. Sometimes, we might hold onto old friends out of obligation or duty, but that may not be a good idea. Ask yourself if your friends or family treat you with the same respect as you treat them. This exercise involves making a written list of all the people we know and assigning a positive value to each.

ACCEPT YOURSELF AND OTHERS We are not perfect and that’s ok. Accepting the unique imperfection of yourself and others is what makes personalities interesting. An attitude of acceptance of others tends to increase their acceptance of you. Transformative exercise: you can decide to say something positive about people each time you meet them. Don’t be surprised if they start doing the same to you which increases your self-esteem.

JEALOUSY This occurs when others are perceived as better in some way. People who spend too much time on social media tend to feel this way of others. Men especially tend to compete on different levels that can make one feel inadequate. So, don’t put yourself in a win or lose situation and stop worrying what others are doing. Be sure to set you “own” goals. Self-esteem is based on our contentment with ourselves, not others.

CREATIVE VISUALIZATION Before you get out of bed in the morning, lie there and visualize(mental imagery) how positive or effective you will be that day. If you have an interview, image how it will go and how positive and confident you will feel. If you haven’t done this before, you may be surprised how behavior follows predetermined thought. In my therapy, I assign the book Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain for those new to this technique. If you haven’t read this book, it might open up a new world for you.     L. Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

TIPS TO KEEP NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) offers the following tips to help families and individuals keep their resolutions for a healthy mind and life.

1. Don’t make too many resolutions. Pick a realistic, attainable goal with a reasonable time frame. A couple of small goals works best.

2. Choose your own resolution. Make sure your goal is something that “you” want to accomplish for yourself and not just for friends or family. Always lose weight for yourself, not others.

3. Make a plan and write it down. Plan what you’d like to accomplish in a certain period of time, like three months. Achieving goals over time gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep going. Writing your goals down is a good way to keep track of your progress.

4. Involve friends and family. They can support your efforts and can motivate you to keep going. Group activities are just more fun.

5. If you get off track, forgive yourself. Review your plan and make adjustments–but, never give up.

6. Congratulate and reward yourself when your intermediate goals or resolutions are met routinely. Keep in mind it’s a lifestyle change that is intended to be self reinforcing.

Since, I am research driven, I make resolutions a routine part of my day. That is, if I run across convincing studies, I’ll make a resolution to follow that advice starting that day. Of course, you must be open to improving and changing yourself. This means that you’ll feel insecure at first until you adjust. But, adjustments are the nature of change and personal evolution–we can’t grow without it. So, lets embrace changing ourselves for the better. Carpe Diem                              Lee Johnson, www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Therapist Offers Free Consultation

I am happy to offer free retirement consultation because it is a major life adjustment. Your first lifestyle change is away from work and can take two to three years to get used to. Your second adjustment is ongoing as our bodies continual change with age. The normal aging process changes our eyesight, hearing, taste, physical strength and endurance, hormones, libido, memory, digestion and other system in our bodies. So, expect to go through gradual changes as you age that may require small adjustments.

If you are making a transition from full-time employment to full-time retirement, give yourself time to find your balance. That change is similar to going from 65 mph to 0. Those without a social plan will find it more difficult and longer to adjust. Those without a plan also feel more lost and confused without any direction. This can led to anxiety and depression. So, step one is to write out a detailed social and personal activity plan with as many options as you can think of.

Some people get stuck on this first step because it’s a new exercise and I ask that you do a life review first. Life review is where you look back over your life for all your past interests and life themes(family, artistic, academic, service oriented, etc.). You will look inside yourself to find creative ways to express your personality and your passions. So, a little serious planning at the beginning creates a solid foundation to build upon.

In the process of planning, many doubts and questions naturally arise. That’s when talking to a consultant with over 30 years of therapy experience helps. I’m also in my 7th year of retirement. If dying is on your mind, I’ve worked in hospice and have done bereavement counseling. If you have financial questions, I’ve been a registered rep or stockbroker for 5 years. I was also a life insurance agent and successful real estate investor. If diet and health is an issue, I was an instructor in a weight reduction program. I can enjoy providing free consultation because I get social security and I love working with people–its part of my creative retirement plan to fulfill my passions.

When you purchase the book Creative Retirement for Women, you get automatic access to this program for as long as needed.  You can view some of the questions and answers on the website,  http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com.  I don’t know of anybody else offering this service. So, let me extend a personal invitation to you because its more than just a book, it’s a supportive relationship for the long term. I hope to speak with you soon.           L. Johnson

TRAITS OF A LONG & HAPPY RELATIONSHIP

Do you want to know the secret of a long and happy relationship? There is an excellent study of adult development that examined people continuously for six to eight decades.  This Aging Well(1)study focused on three groups. First is sample of 268 socially advantaged Harvard grads born around 1920. The second group is 456 inner city men born around 1930. The third group is 682 middle-class intellectually gifted women born around 1910. The study involved eight initial in-depth psychiatric interviews to establish a baseline. The follow-up study involved interviews with them, their parents and teachers to get more objective information. Most of subjects were then followed continuously until they passed away.

I won’t bore you with all the statistics, but the task of generativity was the best predictor of an enduring and happy marriage in old age. Generativity is basically how involved we have been as parents. We generate and raise our children with a varying degree of involvement. The top four traits from the study for a long and happy marriage are generativity, commitment, tolerance and humor.

Generativity is a measure of our caretaker abilities extended into the adult relationship. The skills we use in child rearing certainly include dedicated care-taking, especially when children are young. We make a long-term commitment to our children as a matter of course, and we all know how much tolerance we need when they become adolescents. Humor is a good coping mechanism that helps relieve stress and lighten the intensity of the situation.

Good care-taking starts with an attitude of embracing the importance of relationships in general. Those who had a positive and supportive role model from their parents tend to emulate those behaviors when they become parents. But, those who did not develop basic trust with their primary caretaker tend not to be good caretakers themselves.

Relationship skills learned in childhood are usually transferred to marriage and other emotional relationships as well. The study may suggest that if your partner was not involved with child-rearing, did not bond in childhood, or is not involved in a care-taking role at work, he may not be involved with the care-taking demands of your relationship going forward.

If you do have a partner who wavers on these skills and you want to keep the relationship intact, you might consider adding care-taker development goals. These skills can be learned, of course, as long as there is motivation. If you are single and content to stay that way, you probably want your most reliable friends to have these skills.               

L.  Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1) Vaillant, G. “Aging Well” New York: Little, Brown & Co. 2002. p.113, 123.

We’re Not Prepared for the Number of Baby Boomers Retiring

Baby Boomers retiring is a daily event. It’s Monday at 6am and I’m thinking about baby boomers retiring and watching Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo (on FBNHD)when Rep. Paul Ryan is interviewed on 9-30-14.

Since he is a possible presidential candidate, I understand it’s important that he show his leadership and vision for the country. When the conversation got to social security, that’s when he uttered the above quote. By “we” he means the federal government. His main complaint is that, “We’ll have a debt crisis to pay for entitlements.”

As retired folks, we don’t want anyone changing our entitlements that we depend on. He mentioned that he also wants to reform welfare and education. So, he seems to position himself as a social reformer. His intent to change the major entitlement programs indicates that he sees something terrible wrong with all of them. He never mentioned any details on how to fix it. However, the only entitlement program considered problematic is most likely Medicare.

This hurt(problem) and rescues technique(I have the solution) is often used in sales and I guess Rep. Ryan is trying to sell himself. We all know how difficult it is to start a new federal entitlement program by the way the Affordable Care Act turned out. As retired folks, we are open to improvements in programs. However, sweeping economic changes that alter our retirement income and health insurance are more than unsettling; it’s downright frightening. I’m not sure he knows this or if he cares.                    L.J.

More at:     www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet

In our attempt to find the best diet for health and longevity, the research behind the Mediterranean diet certainly seems to put it in that category. If you eat the Mediterranean diet, studies show that your will not only have longer life expectancy, but will reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and hypertension. So, your quality of life can improve as well. This is primarily due to the use of olive oil in place of other saturated fats like butter.

I recently discovered a recipe oriented book with a ton of ideas and even a daily meal planner.  There are a few different variations of the diet and this one allows meat and desserts. It all has to be cooked in a clean and healthy manner, of course.  But, I honestly believe we can enjoy this type of diet and not feel deprived while improving our health.

The book is The Mediterranean Prescription by A. Acquista, M.D. and his first point is to know the difference between the different types of fats.  The goal is to consume unsaturated fat as in olive oil and plant based foods while reducing trans and saturated fats.  Don’t worry, it’s all spelled out on the package labels and recipes in his book. Many people are staying away from wheat or starch these days, but there are good and bad starches too. Organic whole grain bread, for example, is one of the most healthy foods available. It’s prudent to avoid the white starches in bread, pasta, and rice and just replace them with the whole grain versions. Some studies even correlate how much whole grain products you eat to how long you will live.

In case you are new to the Mediterranean diet, Dr. Acquista lists the 12 guiding principles:

1. Eat lots of fruits.                2. Eat lots of vegetables.            3. Eat lots of legumes

4. Eat nuts and seeds         5. Eat whole grains            6. Use olive oil on salads and cooking

7. Eat low-fat dairy products in moderation       8. Eat fish     9. Eat the right fats (have a high

ratio of unsaturated fats to saturated fats)    10.  Regular physical activity 

11. Drink Wine(red)        12.  Very small portions of other meats.

Most studies say that one daily glass of wine is most beneficial for women and two for men. There are a few variations of this diet and some allow small amounts of red meat. In terms of pork and red meat, I find it easier to just eliminate them altogether. I’m avoiding the saturated fat and the cholesterol because I have a history of strokes in my family.       L.J

More at:     www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Acquista, A. M.D., The Mediterranean Prescription, New York: Ballantine Books, 2006, p.17.      Chart: hellthhylifestylelive. com

 

 

 

11 Ways Female Retirement is Different

11 Ways Female Retirement is Different   

Most of us don’t think of retirement as being male or female, but there are differences in financial, medical, lifestyle, personal, social, and emotional areas.

LONGER LIFE: The first difference is that, on average, women live longer than men. This is wonderful news for you, but at the same time means you must fund and balance a budget for a longer time. Sustainability of financial and emotional livelihood becomes an essential component for future planning.

LESS INCOME: Women make less income over a lifetime than men in similar positions. The wage gap is slowly narrowing so that today women make about 75% to 80% of a man’s pay. Social security benefits are less since the benefit amount is based on accumulated income. Some women may have worked less in the workplace in order to attend to family needs, and have saved less than women who worked outside the home. This lifetime of dedication to husband and kids can leave women with fewer saving and a lower income history.

MORE MEDICAL CARE: Medical expenses are expected to be higher for women throughout each life stage. The bottom line from many of the studies is that, for various reasons, women just need to see the doctor more often, and end up paying more. Women tend to be more alert and concerned about resolving medical issues than men. Some of women’s medical expense may be for preventative care or for routine exams that men don’t need or may skip. But, overall, it just cost more to get more medical care.

 HIGHER LIFESTYLE EXPENSE: Women spend more on hygienic and cosmetic items such as toiletries, makeup, hair, nails, and fashions. In general, appearance is important whether you are retired or not. Women are not about to let their hygiene and appearance deteriorate to any extent like a man might. Men tend to get away with the weekend just-got-out-of-bed look. As women, that would be considered a social faux pas and even embarrassing. Having a better appearance end up costing a bit more.

LESS HEALTH INSURANCE: It’s unfortunate that women are less likely than men to be offered health insurance at work. Part of this difference is due to women more often working at part-time jobs. The combination of a need for more medical care and less insurance coverage can put women in a difficult position. Divorced women are about half as likely to have insurance, since many were often insured through their ex-husband’s job.

CARETAKER DEMANDS: Everyone seems to expect women to be the caretakers for their children and for their elderly parents. Women usually enjoy being a parent and wouldn’t have it any other way. Men help some with children, but not as much with elders. When our parents get old and need help, it’s women who step forward. Even if you embrace your caretaker situation with joy and purpose, it often keeps you out of the workforce and reduces income. This is a very personal issue because many of us want to take care of mom, but may admit to having mixed feelings.

SOCIAL INVOLVEMENT: Excellent social skills, which many women develop naturally, create an amazing foundation for continued involvement and support from others. The strength of this trait appears to mitigate the stress of other life challenges. My women friends tell me that women do most of the volunteering and often take the default role of social planner for the home. Volunteering for women is a natural extension of social skills that involves them in the community, enabling them to connect to new people, including those with similar interests. A woman’s social involvement is usually deeper than most men.

INCREASED SELF-SUFFICIENCY: My consultants tell me that many women still expect a man to take care of them. They seek not a knight in shinning armor, but a desirable partner and teammate. That’s interesting because men secretly want a woman to take care of them. It appears that deep inside, we all want to be taken care of. It’s just human nature to want somebody to “be there” for us. But, this is less likely to happen to a woman today compared to the past. Prior generations stayed in marriages longer, which increased financial stability for wives. Cultural changes in marriage have increased freedom and a sense of control for women. An extension of this freedom is increased self-sufficiency.

BREAST CANCER: We really cannot overlook this disease, since it occurs 99% of the time in women and often in retirement. The average age at diagnosis is 61 years old. It’s just a fact of life that most women accept and plan for by taking precautions. Most are aware of the importance of self-examinations, scheduled mammograms, recent treatment options, and dramatically improved survival rates. Even the media is more accepting and sensitive, as evidenced by the news of Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a double mastectomy for preventative reasons.

MENOPAUSE: It may be true that a loss of estrogen in women is parallel to a loss of testosterone in men, but the range and intensity of the experience is quite different. These symptoms of hot flashes, mood swings, hair loss, dizziness and weight gain can interfere with your comfort in social situations. They can become personally distressing unless you feel you have some control over them. Although, menopause is not life threatening, it can still interfere with your lifestyle and happiness if you let it.

EMOTIONAL DIFFERENCE: Although major depression tends to occur less frequently with the elderly overall, some studies show that more elderly women are becoming depressed recently. Women are more susceptible to depression at this stage, and it tends to be more prolonged. Depression can have physical consequences in that you care less about and may abandon your healthy habits. The National Institute of Mental Health views depression in the elderly as a major public health problem.

I address all these issues in the book and provide common sense recommendations. If I missed any other differences, please let me know.

More at:     www.creativeretirementforwomen.com