hand saw

Retirement: Suggestions for Sharpening Your Saw

by Ralph Broadwater, MD, CFP®, AIF®

Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People stresses the importance of “Sharpening the Saw”. This seventh habit is the most important- constant renewal of yourself. He describes the need to renew the four dimensions of your nature: physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional. While his book was written as a guide for living a successful life, the principles also apply in retirement- a time when your career has ended and you are slowing down.

While retirement is a time for travel, leisure activity, and relaxation, these activities are not sufficient for a rewarding long-term retirement. The current demographics of retirement mean that for many of you this will be a 20 or 30 year period. It is essential that you nourish the four dimensions that Covey describes in his book. Fortunately most communities provide a wealth of inexpensive (or even free) opportunities for retirees. These activities can help you maintain your physical fitness, renew a forgotten hobby, learn new things, develop helpful skills, share your talents and skills, and develop a social network.

Sharpening your saw will require some planning and research, but it promises to pay significant dividends to make your retirement more fun, rewarding, and exciting. Here are just some of the options here in the Little Rock, Arkansas area:

Learn something new

University of Arkansas Little Rock (UALR) offers a waiver of tuition for all Arkansas residents over the age of 60. You can take any course offered that has space available. My mother took advantage of this program after she was widowed, and received a French degree. Here is the website so you can explore: http://ualr.edu/campuslife/ntsp/over-60/

The Central Arkansas Library (CALS) offers free monthly classes on a range of topics. (Avoiding Identity Theft, Introduction to Computers, Photo restoration, Photoshop, iPhone basics, Word, Excel, etc.)

LifeQuest of Arkansas is a nonprofit organization was founded in 1981to provide a mechanism for adults in retirement to create a more purposeful and rewarding life. They host a wide-ranging curriculum based at Second Presbyterian Church. They have excellent instructors from the community that share their expertise on topics such as: The Great Books, Politics, Speaking Spanish, World War I, Big Bands and Jazz, French, Mah Jongg, Yoga, Knitting, and a range of art instruction classes. https://www.lifequestofarkansas.org/what_you_can_do/classesoverview.html

Exercise and move

The City of Maumelle has an excellent Senior program at the Maumelle Center on the Lake. For a small fee, non-residents can join and participate. Monthly programs change, but include: Tai Chi, Line dancing, Yoga on a Ball, Sitting Exercise, Wii Bowling, Zumba, and a range of cooking, hobby, and educational courses. https://www.maumelle.org/199/Senior-Wellness

Develop a new hobby (or rediscover an old one)

The Arkansas Art Center sponsors regular classes in a variety of art disciplines: ceramics, drawing, painting, jewelry-making, photography, printmaking, and woodworking. https://www.arkansasartscenter.org/adult-classes

The Arkansas Extended Learning Center (AELC) offers classes in many topics of interest: baking, cooking for pets, fly fishing, beginning golf, upholstery techniques, etc. https://extendedlearning.org/

Volunteer and share your skills and knowledge

Consider volunteering for a nonprofit, church, or school. There are opportunities with most organizations to provide leadership and help. For example, offer to be a merit badge counselor or mentor with your local Boy Scout troop. Get involved with a committee at your church.

If you don’t live in the Central Arkansas area I am sure that your community offers many similar opportunities to enrich your retirement. Research and get involved.

I hope you will explore some of these options to “Sharpen your Saw” in retirement. It will make your retirement a much more meaningful and valuable time.


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