Learn from retirement study: Seed now what you want to reap later in your life

You got what you want in a life yet? If you had plenty of time, let’s say if you were retired – which things come to mind that you’d do then? Research suggests that you would do what you tend to do now.

Today I read the new article by retirement specialist Dr. Patrice Jenkins on her blog What will I do all day? The organizational psychologist writes about what makes retirement a good experience.

In today’s article The magnifying effect the author, consultant and speaker writes: “It’s nice to believe that once you retire you’ll suddenly have the motivation to exercise more, eat healthier meals, expand your social connections, and be more thoughtful of your spouse. According to happiness research, all these factors contribute to a better quality of life. The problem is research also suggests if you’re not doing these things already, you’ll be less apt to do them in retirement.”

Read the full article here, it’s very inspiring.


You got what you want in a life yet?

Let’s have a closer look at this: As long as we’re still at work, we don’t have time to do all the things we’d like to, right? We think we’re going to do them later. When we retire. But for some of us this is still a long way to go.

We can’t wait to do all of our own stuff until retirement!

And there suddenly comes this message that should wake us up to our own life: If we don’t do things before retirement, we might not do them later either?! Ouch.

Is this good news or bad news for you? Check this with a little test.


Self-test Health and Social Life

These are the points Dr. Jenkins mentions:

  • Exercise
  • Healthy meals
  • Social Connections
  • Good partnership

And this is the test: Please read these points carefully and take a little time for each item to imagine how they are realized in your current life.

And then ask yourself: If this Status Quo would be magnified, would that be a good thing for you?

If so, congratulations! Keep up the good work. It’s a good life.

If not, better get something done about it. Get used to good habits concerning your health and social connections. It’s for your own wellbeing – both now and in the future.

Now, what can you do about it? Continue reading.


Creativity, Sensitivity and Mindfulness

From my blog’s perspective, I need to add a few points:

  • Creativity
  • Sensitivity
  • Mindfulness

As a reader of my Queste blog, I’m guessing these points concern you. They deserve time and space in your life. You feel better when they are implemented in your life and worse if they’re not.


Are you ready for a second self-test?

Just follow these thoughts and test what point you’re at right now. It might help you to go in the right direction.

  • You are a creative soul with many interests. Do you “get to do” your stuff? Do you “have enough time” to write, paint, sing etc.? Or is the time cancelled again and again? If things went on in your retirement like the way they are now, would you be satisfied with them? What else is missing?


  • Maybe you are more sensitive than you want to be. (Believe me, you’re not alone with this!) How do you cope with it? Do you respect your perceptions or are you still trying to force yourself to cross your healthy limits? (As many of us find ourselves to do.) Would it be beneficial to embrace your sensitivity even more? It’s part of you and brings you important messages about your needs.


  • Do you often rush from one thing to another without taking the time to stop and breathe every now and then? Or have you already started to take steps towards a good pace and mindfulness in your life? Is there space for feeling, sensing, listening to yourself? Time for learning about your feelings and wishes? Time for quiet and stillness?


I’m sure there are no simple yes or no sto these questions. Partly you do your stuff and take your needs into account and partly you don’t, that’s quite normal.

Just consider that taking steps in this direction helps you now and later in your life. It’s worth the effort. Because if you implement these good things now, you’re much more likely to also do them when you have more time.

And in case you are already retired, you can check how things were before and how they are now. Are there still open wishes? You can do it! You can get more of what you want in a life.

And how is it done? Keep reading, I’m making it more practical for you now.


How to install more of the good things in your life – 3 tips

Whether you are retired or you’re still at work, these steps can help you get more of what you want in a life.

I said “Seed now what you want to reap later.” Seeds are very small. No heroism needed. On the contrary, I suggest you make changes in a most inconspicuous way. Almost so that they are not noticeable at all. As easy and doable as possible.

So these are my three most important tips to install more of the good things:

  1. Make the steps small.
  2. Choose them the way that suits you best.
  3. Do them on a regular basis.


Make the steps small

What is a small step? A small step is a doable step. It might be very small, such as 5 minutes of playing the guitar after doing the dishes in the evening.

If you feel resistance, doubt or anxiety, choose an even smaller step. It might be minimal: ONE set of chords on the guitar. ONE minute of exercising on a daily basis. One minute of meditation. Choose a time that seems too small to count.

Taking your resistance into account and only doing minimal doses of action – as Barbara Sher recommends in her book Live the life you love – will take you far.

I once read that Suzanne Vega (being a famous professional musician) recommended to practice at least twenty minutes a day as a maintenance dose. That’s not that much!

If you’re not a pro, why shouldn’t 5 or 10 minutes a day be enough?


Choose steps the way that suits you best

You’re unique.

Don’t take over other people’s plans or ideas as your own without adapting them to your needs. It could add unnecessary pressure.

After all, it’s all about what you want in a life.

I’m just giving examples to make it more descriptive, not to suggest what is right for you, okay? You choose. Finding out what helps you is the whole point here. So:


Some things may be appropriate for you on a daily basis.

  • Five minutes of playing an instrument or singing.
  • Writing a few lines or doing a sketch.
  • Dancing for 3 minutes to keep your juices flowing.
  • Meditation.
  • Relaxation exercise.
  • Stretching.
  • Whatever.

Some things may be good for daily practice at least for a while, like “drawing every day for one month”. One month like that can be fun and bring you a long way.

But don’t be mistaken (as I often tend to be) – we can’t do everything on a daily basis!


Other things may be possible once a week.

  • Dance practice,
  • painting,
  • writing an article,
  • continue writing the novel etc.
  • Seeing people you love on weekends,
  • meeting your success team,
  • going out,
  • taking a language or acting class,
  • going to the theater.
  • Or …


Other things might be good to do monthly.

  • Meeting your creative group or visiting certain people,
  • doing a retreat day,
  • cooking new dishes together,
  • building something big,
  • take a workshop …


And if you are a Scanner, some things come in phases.

If you have particularly many interests, you may need to come up with different forms for them.

Sometimes we do things according to our inner drive. Maybe it isn’t even up to you to choose the cycles that apply to you. Maybe you do something for a few weeks in a row just to drop them entirely and take up something different.

Don’t feel bad about it. I’m like that, too. You can read all about it in Barbara Sher’s Refuse to Choose.

Come up with solutions that work for you. But even you may need some regularity in your schedule.


Do the steps on a regular basis

What does “regular” mean? It means you do it repeatedly.

Maybe you do things at certain times of the day and connect them to an existing repeated activity. Like the guitar practice after doing the dishes in the evening I spoke of.

And ideally speaking, you convert it into a habit.

Again, you can’t make a habit of everything you love – at least not of everything at the same time.


To move one thing forward, you might want to emphasize on it for two or four weeks. After this time it already has something of a habit in itself. Then it will be easy to go on doing it a few times a week.

And then you concentrate on the next thing.


Well, these were some ideas as for steps, doses, times, and phases. You may find different ones, and I’m interested to hear about them!


Check list

Now let’s have a look at these qualities of a better life again:

  1. Exercise
  2. Healthy meals
  3. Social Connections
  4. Good partnership
  5. Creativity
  6. Sensitivity
  7. Mindfulness

Which one especially appeals to you right now? And what would be a good minute action to take?

I suggest you start by picking three and describing a minute action and temporal goal for each of them. You make it so small that you can start right now! Like this:

  • Going for a ten minutes walk twice a week
  • Listening to a friend / my partner thoroughly once a week.
  • Doing something creative (whatever it is) for five minutes a day.

No pressure. Just permissions.


Now you do it:







If that sounds too much right now – choose one thing. And one minimal action:




Every step counts

Congratulations! You’re seeding now what you want to reap later in your life. You’re a lucky person.

And don’t underestimate all the smaller (and bigger) steps you’ve taken already.

Can you see that you can do this all the time? You’re going to grow a garden of wonderful flowers.


That’s about it.

But to make it even more doable, I want to add a bonus tip.


Bonus Tip: Change plans if necessary

Try to make the plan realistic. Like „daily“ meaning only „five out of seven days“. Low pressure.

But if it doesn’t work out – don’t beat yourself up. Change the plan.

Make the steps even smaller. Change the time of the day. Pick something else. Make it as easy for yourself as possible.


I hope that this article was in some way helpful to you. Does ist make things easier for you? Is it motivating or is there some pressure hidden in it? Do habits work for you? What does help you do your own stuff, anyway?

Looking foward to hearing from you!

And check out Patrice Jenkins‘ website for more thoughts on successful, fulfilling career/retirement transition.

See you


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=> Read my Start Here article.


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4 Replies to “Learn from retirement study: Seed now what you want to reap later in your life”

  1. Hi Jana,

    I really enjoyed reading how you took inspiration from my blog post and created a great step-by-step approach to getting what we want out of life…and doing it now so that the „magnifying effect“ will be for the better.

    When I read, „If this Status Quo would be magnified, would that be a good thing for you?“ I experienced a physical jolt from thinking about magnifying status quo. I fear status quo! So to think of it being magnified is scary!

    Thank you for reminding us that NOW is the time to start living our lives, our authentic lives!



    1. Hi Patrice,

      Thank you for you lovely comment! I’m glad you liked it. Very interesting, how my thought sparked something new for you, as yours did for me. I’m loving this kind of exchange.

      I don’t know why it is but I’ve found it fascinating to think about how we age starting at the age of 30 or so. I read about it and always went „What do I have to do to make the 70 years old Me a happy person? Of course, now I- age 47 – ‚m expanding this to 80 or 90. 😉

      But you’re right – NOW is the time to live our authentic live. No matter what.
      Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Thank you, Patty, I’m glad the post inspires you!
      It’s all about small seeds, turning into helpful and beautiful plants, isn’t it? 🙂
      All the best for your new habits and a fullfilling life, Patty.

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