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I Want To DO Less . . . And BE More February 17, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.

IMGP1800bOne of the best tricks I’ve found to discern whether I’m on the right path for me is to envision this as the last year of my life ~ to question whether I would regret spending the next 12 months engaged in similar endeavors.

At this point, I’m happy with the flow of my days and nights, but in earlier years this simple exercise inspired big changes:

In 1997, it led to my decision to leave the practice of law, take a sabbatical, and re-enter the work force as the director of a Crisis Intervention Team, assisting victims of domestic violence to evaluate options.

In 1999, it encouraged us to shed possessions, down-size, and move out of New Jersey to a home on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay ~ still close enough to visit family while being far enough away to live our own quiet lives.

In 2008, it freed us to leave winters behind for good and move to Florida.


Aah . . . that’s better!

What would you do if your “final curtain call” lay around the next bend?



1. Jill Weatherholt - February 17, 2015

I think you made some good changes, Nancy. One day, I’d like to take similar steps, but right now, I must keep squirreling away $ for retirement. Leaving my job isn’t an option…but it’s nice to dream. πŸ™‚

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Leaving the practice of law was scary ~> I didn’t know how we would pay the bills (or save for retirement) without my salary.

When the price of staying put got “too steep,” I took a leap of faith . . . the net appeared before we C~R~A~S~H~E~D.

Jill Weatherholt - February 17, 2015

Great story, Nancy! You seem happy and that’s what matters.

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Thanks, Jill! Using “happiness” as my yardstick for “success” has made all the difference.

2. Kate Crimmins - February 17, 2015

I had a funeral this week and it made me reflect on that question. I’m happy with my life too. I hate winters here but love the friends and family so there are always tradeoffs. Most important is that I can do what I want. For me that was the gift of retirement.

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Yes! Life’s trade-offs abound. It requires a balancing of competing priorities.

In addition to the internal wrangling, many of us get caught up in the idea that we need a permission slip to live our life. We don’t.

We don’t have to give anyone else a vote in major life decisions.

I delayed leaving the law because my parents didn’t understand (or approve) of my decision. After trying to explain my rationale for the umpteenth time, I had an “aha!” moment and realized that no one but me had to understand.

Kate Crimmins - February 17, 2015

Yes I had a few of those matches with my mother who had gone through the depression and was locked in on a good paying job for life. The problem was that it was my life and not hers. I did recognize and appreciate her struggle over the years.

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

When I was a kid, my parents said, “We don’t care what you do as long as you’re happy.” But when I told them I wasn’t happy practicing law, they didn’t want to hear it. πŸ˜›

3. Grannymar - February 17, 2015

Nancy, I like your style!

I was forced into retirement in 2003 by health issues, yet here I am: Still going in 2015! Since then I have tried to live in the moment, listening to my body and being hopeful of tomorrow and another few years, but not planning too far beyond. I have no desire to fly to the moon, reach a century or be a burden to my daughter in the future. I gave her life and not a life sentence.

In those twelve years I have done things I never expected… won awards, spoken at conferences, appeared as a guest on television and auditioned for a film. On days where energy deserts me, the world come home to me through blogging and other methods of social media. I am so fortunate and enjoy my life.

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

I loved reading your comment, GM. Life is full of amazing surprises. Just when we think, “well, that’s it then,” we turn a corner and find new possibilities waiting.

My change in itinerary also stemmed from health issues ~ I began to see what S~T~R~E~S~S was doing to me and decided it was time to take a detour. Or two. Or three.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Grannymar - February 17, 2015

Mine were heart related issues and exacerbated by other people stressing around me. A calm life was always more important to me than money. That calmness cannot be bought, it comes from inside.

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Having a happy and peaceful life is more important to me than money. It doesn’t bother me that I can’t impress people with the size of my salary ~ just keep it simple!

4. suzicate - February 17, 2015

Here’s to spirit leading the way!

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Yes! Spirit assisted in my decision to leave the law. I knew I wanted to stop practicing but was worried about the financial implications of the decision. One night, Spirit whispered: “you are not doing what you came here to do.”

I resigned (for real) the next day! 😎

5. Don - February 17, 2015

I admire your decisions Nancy. You are an absolute example of creating your own reality. It takes courage and you have it.

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Thanks, Don. My decisions felt intuitively “right” to me . . . while others called them “foolish.”

That’s perspective for ya!

6. Cecelia Futch - February 17, 2015

Bravo! Great way to make life decisions. For years my guiding question has been “when I am at the end of my days, what kind of life do I want to look back on. Am I living that life? If not, what changes do I need to make?” Although I am not fully where I want to be, I can honestly say that I am on the right track. Thanks for this post. Might use this in my work re helping clients with decision-making skills.

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Thanks, Cecelia. Your questions are wonderful. Imagining we’ve reached the end of our days helps us shift perspective so we can see if we are living the “right” kind of life for us.

7. Pix Under the Oaks - February 17, 2015

Well Nancy, I know Florida was the best thing for you and BFF! You guys are HAPPY! I would need time to think about what I would do. I am pretty content right now. I love the Tiny Ten and the seasons and Missouri has a hold on me. I would spend longer time in Florida for our winter visit there and we will next year!

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Yay! It’s great when we are already who and where we want to be.

For many, this exercise highlights a few “nips and tucks” that would custom tailor life to suit them ~ no ripping out of seams.

8. Hariod Brawn - February 17, 2015

“What would you do if your ‘final curtain call’ lay around the next bend?”

I would do a U-turn. Fast. πŸ˜‰

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Good luck with that!

9. livelytwist - February 17, 2015

I like the way you question whether you would regret spending the next 12 months engaged in similar endeavors, using your answer as a compass for life. As I weigh my current options, I will be asking this question.

The last photo of you, relaxed with bottle in hand, ah, now that’s better! πŸ™‚

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

At every stage of life, we have different (and often competing) priorities ~ looking at them from different angles may provide the clarity we need to pick the right path.

For now, Florida suits me! Bottoms up!!!

10. Three Well Beings - February 17, 2015

I think you’ve definitely earned that beer on the beach, Nancy! Your choice to follow island life seems so sound to me after a career in law and then domestic violence intervention! I think for the most part I’m living the life I want to live, but I have to constantly assess where the energy, which isn’t limitless, is flowing! I am very involved with elderly parents and at times I don’t account for how much time and energy that really takes. They are a priority right now and my “job” is not to become over-stressed and bring on additional issues for any one of us! I do know that it would be a sad thing to get to the end of my life and regret that I wasn’t fully present to the role I play.To not grow too weary, every day I look for something that is “just for me,” which might simply mean sitting in the sunshine for a little while with a book or some music.

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Carving out “just for me time” every day is important to our health and well being ~ even if we just fully integrate ourselves with the present moment by stepping fully into the sights and sounds around us while letting go of stressors.

Also finding time to LAUGH ~> best stress buster eva!

11. Silver in the Barn - February 17, 2015

You’ve hit on something so vital. We are not guaranteed a thing and to live our lives as though we have an indefinite length of time is crazy. We were talking about that when news came of Bob Simon’s death. Here’s a guy who spent his life on the front lines, right? And gets killed in New York City in a car accident. I think he lived his life the way he would have if it was his last year….and who knows, this might be ours too. Great post, Nancy. And you look happy!!!

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Thanks, Barbara. This type of exercise provides me with clarity in so many different situations ~ realizing we could be “hit by a bus” next week helps us evaluate whether we are spending our days the “right” way . . . or whether a course correction is called for.

“Death” keeps us honest.

12. NancyTex - February 17, 2015

Perhaps the more specific question for me would be, what would you do if you had a year left to live and DIDN’T have kids? I find that much of my decision-making, as far as income earning is concerned, is very much rooted in how my decisions might impact my grown, but still partially dependent children. Oh to not have that to worry about… Then again, I wouldn’t trade ’em in for all the tea in China. πŸ™‚

So I guess my answer would be: spend as much time with the ones I love as possible!

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Great response, NT. One reason why advice is never “one size fits all” is because we are not interchangeable widgets on an assembly line.

As long as your kids are a priority for you, they will continue to impact decisions about where you live, how you celebrate holidays, what you have to trade for all the tea in China, etc.

13. anotherday2paradise - February 17, 2015

Interesting exercise, Nancy. I think my answer would have to involve an awful lot of airplane travel to visit relatives dotted all over the globe. πŸ™‚

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

I hear ya, Sylvia. There are times when I long for days when families didn’t stray so far from the fold ~> we have relatives in New England, NJ, CO, MD, Florida, Chicago, etc. Since we can’t be with all of them, I finally decided to live where I want to live and let them come visit me! πŸ˜›

anotherday2paradise - February 17, 2015

That sounds like a great idea. πŸ‘

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

You seem like a Happy Traveler when you fly up to visit your son’s family in NY or your mom and sister in South Africa.

In contrast, the BEST part of any trip for me is walking in MY front door at its conclusion.

Hmmm . . . maybe that’s because I don’t pack enough? πŸ˜›

14. Barb - February 17, 2015

Sometimes we just have to take the bull by the horns and do what we FEEL is right for us; we are the only ones we have to please, not others. And when we have made the decision to follow our heart, it feels so good!

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Yes! When life is a perfect fit for us, it’s such a good feeling.

15. brickhousechick - February 17, 2015

Very impressive and inspiring, Nancy. You think my husband would understand when I tell him that I am not returning to Massachusetts – ever? It may not go over well but being in PR sure has opened up my eyes to the things in life that really matter. πŸ™‚

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

If you stay in PR, please don’t tell Mr. BHC that I led you astray! I don’t want him gunning for me. 😎

Maybe you should encourage him to read your post and let him come to the conclusion that you BOTH should relocate to PR?

16. JOriginal Muse - February 17, 2015

Right On… and WRITE On…!

nrhatch - February 17, 2015

Here’s to following our hearts!

17. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - February 18, 2015

I love the idea of asking ourselves that question, you are right, one size doesn’t fit all, but that’s a great place to start and make sure we are happy with the pie chart of our lives!

nrhatch - February 18, 2015

Yes! And looking at it as a pie chart is a great idea ~ because deficiencies in one area might be OK if other areas are overflowing with goodness.

18. Tiny - February 18, 2015

I completely get this Nancy. Lots of similarities with the choices I’ve made. And the funny thing in my case is that now everyone who really matters (and doesn’t live abroad) has moved to Florida, a few hours driving distance πŸ˜‰ Perfect.

nrhatch - February 19, 2015

Great example of leading the pack, Tiny! You’re a trend setter.

When we give ourselves permission to do what we want to do, those around us often claim the same freedom.

19. Behind the Story - February 18, 2015

I thought about your question for a while and decided that if I had year left to live I’d live it pretty much the way I do now. I thought about living closer to my children and grandchildren or spending more time with them. But I already visit with them fairly often. And they’re at a different place in their lives than I am. So I think the way I live now is about right for me.

nrhatch - February 19, 2015

That’s awesome, Nicki. It’s great when we look around and see that our life has become a perfect fit for who we are now.

20. Val Boyko - February 19, 2015

I love your reflections and your journey Nancy! I am right with you in that I wouldn’t do anything different in my life as I live it now… I follow my passion and my heart, and try to ride the waves that are a part of life.
hhmmmm … although moving to Florida to escape the winter cold would be a priority πŸ˜‰

nrhatch - February 19, 2015

Sounds like you’re already working on that transition. Good luck with shifting gears and locales! 😎

Val Boyko - February 19, 2015

Thanks Nancy πŸ™‚

21. L. Marie - February 19, 2015

Great goal, Nancy! It sounds like you know just what you need to leave behind or hold on to.
Concentrating on my writing has been my major step this year. I can’t say that it has been easy. But I owed it to myself to try.

nrhatch - February 19, 2015

Thanks! I’m glad you’re focusing on what matters to you, Linda ~ so much better than wondering “what if?”

22. beeblu - February 20, 2015

You’re full of surprises, Nancy. I didn’t know about your work with domestic violence victims.

To answer your question, I would stop working immediately and go travelling.

nrhatch - February 20, 2015

It’s great that you’ve been able to enjoy some travels while still working ~ like your trip to Japan.

I worked with the mayor’s office to get the DV program, Side by Side, up and running ~ selecting volunteers and getting them trained. Then worked with the court system (judges, district attorneys, police officers, etc.) to improve the process and make it easier for victims to get help and avoid intimidation from their batterers.

When we moved out of the area, one of the “best” volunteers took over the reins. All in all, a very satisfying few years.

23. jannatwrites - February 23, 2015

That’s a great exercise – healthy review just to check our navigation. I need to make some changes, some of which are easier to make than others πŸ™‚

nrhatch - February 23, 2015

Absolutely. Not all situations are amenable to a quick fix . . . but acknowledging that change is needed/desired helps us move from where we are to where we want to be.

24. Tammy - March 1, 2015

Such a good way to think through things Nancy! I try to do it at the end of the week for the next week – what do I not need/want to do that is on my calendar? And then I take it off!

nrhatch - March 1, 2015

Excellent idea! Evaluating the choices we make day by day about how to spend our time, energy, and $’s pays dividends in Life Satisfaction.

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