Bills, Health, and Purpose

So I wanted to share some wisdom from one of my best friends. 


He was telling me about some of life’s stresses at work, home, etc., and he said even though every looks forward to retirement “one day,” the problems don’t go away. 


He mentioned some examples of people he knows that retired relatively young and with a pension.


Nevertheless, he said:

They still worry about bills, about health, and mostly about purpose!


And even though they don’t have the day-to-day grind in the office, he said:

Their own stress is as real to them as mine is to me.


I couldn’t help reflecting on his words and thinking how smart this was. 


No one has it all!


Everyone is this world has fears, worries, and problems. 


And you know what?  It’s okay.  


Life is about us confronting what seems unconfrontable and becoming better human beings because we did. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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From Cradle To Grave

Human Capital Lifecycle.jpeg

It’s funny how in organizations talk about the lifecycle of people. 

From a full lifecycle perspective, it’s “cradle to grave!”

In terms of lifecycle on the job, it’s “hire to retire (or to fire).”

Really the lifecycles are intertwined. 

It starts with the cradle…we are born and go through a maturation process that focuses on our education and preparation for life. 

Then we get hired into our (hopefully) dream jobs, where we spend our careers until we retire–or if you mess up badly and get fired or decide to change career course–you may have to go back to “go” and “do not collect $200” and you get hired again for another career round. 

Eventually you retire and start your 2nd life in retirement, where please G-d, you have the health and prosperity to enjoy the fruits of your labor and your families. 

Ultimately, our lifecycle ends at the grave with the death of our bodies–our souls go on to Heaven and live forever basking in the light of the Almighty. 

Thus, the human capital lifecycle. 😉

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

DC Is Not NYC

Not NYC.jpeg

This is a funny sticker on the streets of Washington, D.C.


It says, “This is not New York.”


And it advertises a website called StuckInDC.com.


“Formed by a few friends who’ve probably lived in the capital long enough, but lack the wherewithal to move elsewhere.”


Having come from NYC, I can empathize in many ways. 


The DC metro area is great if you are interested in working in some very cool jobs for the Federal government, and it has a fairly nice lifestyle for families here (clean and green). 


While not as exciting as NYC (it doesn’t have the vibe), it’s also not as dirty, congested, or generally dangerous (in DC, there are lots of gun-totting federal agents everywhere).


If you yearn for someplace nicer to live, maybe Florida for the Caribbean climate, beautiful nature, slower lifestyle, and fun atmosphere or then again, there is always the awesome Holy Land!


For now stuck in DC, after retirement who knows. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Unsustainable U.S. Economy

Unsustainable EconomyThe U.S. National Debt often touted at an enormous $18 trillion is really more than 3 times that amount and closer to a whopping $65 trillion!


That’s when you actually count all the unfunded liabilities for civilian and military pensions, retiree healthcare, social security, and medicare.


For each of the 318.9 million people of that United States, it mean $203,826 of debt or for a family of four that’s a debt of $815,303.


Put another way, the entire net worth of Americans is $84.9 trillion, but after subtracting the debt of $65 trillion, it drops to just about $20 trillion–coincidentally around the amount of our new debt ceiling.


Moreover, with the richest 1% owning more than 50% of the wealth by 2016 that leave only $10 trillion or $31,675 for each of us–not so hoity toity for 239 years of independence and founding as a nation or all the blood, sweat, and tears we put in every day of our lives.


In terms of our escalating debt, just this last year alone, social security spending went up to $944,143,000,000 or the equivalent of $6,345 for every American with a job. and this is projected to dramatically rise with the retirements of the baby boomers.


Projections are for social security to exhaust its funds by 2035, which could result in across the board 20% or more cuts in benefits of the already meager program where many seniors end up eating cat food.


Additionally, the retirement age already set to go to 67 by 2027 could be forced to go even higher, and social security would likely be curtailed or eliminated entirely above certain income levels.


Is this the financial security and brighter future we are leaving our children and grandchildren?


We can kick the can down the road, but the unsustainability of it all will eventually come back to haunt us. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Pictures of Money)

Temptation Or Accusation?

Temptress
So on the way home from synagogue today, my wife and I are talking about what happened to the renown Harvard constitutional and criminal lawyer, Alan Dershowitz.



He was accused of having repeatedly had sex with an underage woman (while he was married with children and grandchildren).



I explained to my wife not to believe these accusations, that in my mind, Dershowitz was upstanding and completely innocent, and that this could happen to anyone.



And I went on to tell a funny story from a day earlier…



I was at a retirement party for one of my staff who served the country for 51 years.



At the party, I am going around talking with people and helping to make everyone comfortable–until I didn’t.



One guy who was a retired manager and had come back to work as a contractor calls me over to his table to introduce me to his wife. 



He’s motioning to her and saying how she is his most beloved wife.



And just joking around trying to keep a straight face, I say, “Hmm, she’s a lot different than the other woman I see you with every day.”



[Yeah, I don’t know what came over me (maybe a little too much drink–any drink is too much for this dry mouth).]



His wife, is like, “Ah ha! Some other woman in the office…”



And he’s leaning back, waving his hands and mouthing to me, “Shut up Andy!”



He goes, “Okay Andy, you just wait until I meet your wife!”



Then, we all broke out laughing…just Andy being a wise guy again!



So, I said to my wife, you see how easy it is for someone to make a false accusation (and how quickly people can be to think the worst of others).



It really is important to treat people as “innocent until proven guilty.”



As for Andy’s hijinks…I’m banned from any more parties for the next few weeks. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Watch the Years Go By

Sunshine Man
So two quick stories on getting a little older…



First story:



After my workout today, a guy follows me into the elevator.  



He opens conversation and asks me, “Did you have a good workout?”



I said, “Sure did! What did you do today [for exercise]?”



He motions his arms up and down like pushing some machines and doing some curls, “A little of this and that [long pause]…You know I’m 80!”



I said, “Wow that’s awesome that you still work out–can I ask, how do you do it?”



He replies, “The key is to always keep going, and not to give up.”



I say, “Yes, but also I think it has a lot to do with the One Above.”



He nods in agreement, although still looking determined to keep himself pumping away in the gym. 



As the elevator doors open I say, “Well, I sure hope you can keep going like this for another 80 years.”



He gives me a warm smile, and says, “I hope so too.”



Second story:



One of my colleagues at work is retiring after an amazing 51 years of service to the government. 



Now this guy having been around awhile has a really nice engraving of the agencies seal hung on the wall in his office, and months ago, I had commented to him how beautiful and special it was and that “they don’t make them like they used to.”



He said, “Well you know what? When I retire, I’m going to pass it on to for safekeeping.” I thought that is nice, but also probably just talk as they say. 



Well recently, he has announced his “big day” and so he stops by my office, and in his hands he is holding the beautiful seal engraving–he puts out his arms, handing it to me. 



I was like, “OMG, I didn’t really expect this. This is great.  Are you sure you want me to have it.”



You says, “Absolutely!” referring back to his promise a number of months ago.  Then he pauses, obviously thinking for a moment, and says to me, “But you have to put in 51 years of government service also! [big smile]”



I said, “That’s a noble idea, but honestly, I think I started a little late for that. How about we go for 30 or so with G-d’s help?”



Anyway, thinking about these two events, I am not quite sure how these amazing people do it…years of doing, giving, and with a great attitude–and always a desire for another round to go. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The G-d Watch – Live With The End In Mind

I used to have this manager who was within a couple of years of retirement.

She kept a jar of beans on her desk.

Each bean represented one day of work.

And every day, she would take one bean out of the jar.

This was her way of counting down to the end of her career (and the beginning of her retirement).

Anyway, trust me when I say, that we were counting down too–even without the beans. 🙂

At work, some people may even say of someone just hanging on or just hanging-out waiting to retire that they are Retired In Place (RIP)–a pun, on rest in peace.

Uh, not funny, but when people know the end is coming (either for career or their life), they often change their behavior–they focus on what what’s coming next.

With the end of career, perhaps they are imaging sunny skies, palm trees, and margaritas in retirement.

And with end of life, people are often thinking about judgement day–and how they spent their lives: in love or hate, purposeful or without direction, doing good or taking advantage.

So it’s very interesting to me how this company, Tikker (funny name, as a watch often makes the sound tick-tock, but also a person’s heart is referred to as a ticker), developed a watch (the Death Watch) that not only provides the time, but actually counts down–years, months, days, and even hours, minutes, and seconds–not that they can be so precise–to your expected death.

The watch is supposed to give people new perspective and encourage them to live a better life.

Someone who is going to purchase the watch fills out a questionnaire with information on family health history, age gender, and race, and then they get their estimated date of death, for the countdown!

With the DOD (date of death), we now know what we are dealing with–for better or worse–and of course, subject to change, by the One Above.

But like the boss looking to retirement who took out a bean a day from the jar, we too can look towards our own mortality–not in a sad way, but in a fundamental human way–one that guides us, with the end in mind, to make better decisions for the time we have in life.

Despite, what almost every young person seems to believe, we are not immortal–and the stupid things we do when we are young or throughout of lives comes back to haunt us (whether smoking, drinking, overeating, or other bad stuff).

And so we must choose to live every moment, not as if we have forever, but rather with purpose, passion, and poetry–until the clock runs out on all of us, as it inevitably will.