By Cindy Gelpi
Few things affect a person’s outlook on life more than the death of someone they love. Watching a family member suffer through a long illness or the sudden death of a friend destroy our perception that there is time to do all the things we want to accomplish in our short lives. Confronting these situations as we enter our fifties or sixties can have even more of a catalytic effect on our decisions because we realize there is a window of opportunity that may not be there as we age. Whether it be moving abroad or starting a new career, goals become more time sensitive.
Watching my 82-year old father die slowly from vascular dementia and congestive heart failure was the impetus for me to begin taking actions towards fulfilling my dream to live abroad in Europe. I knew my father had always wanted to visit there, but circumstances had prevented him from achieving that goal. After helping to nurse him through his illness and grieving his passing, then watching two of my daughters leave Louisiana to fulfill their dreams of living in California, I realized the time had come for my husband and I to pursue our goals.
In order to pursue goals later in life, planning ahead of time is not only necessary but crucial. When we are trying to accomplish something on the brink of our senior years, we must not only plan for the goal itself, but think about our later years as well. “Can we afford this?” is probably the common concern that my husband and I both shared when making this decision. Healthcare expenses tend to multiply as we age and were a major factor in our decision-making.
“Should we sell our home or rent it?” was another question we considered as we planned to only live abroad for a year or so. “What do we do with all of the things we have accumulated over our lives?” Tackling these questions head on was the only way forward. Researching options and finding solutions became our mission.
Putting a plan into place is key to getting to the point where you want to be. Start living like the goal is in play. Make a concrete budget and stick with it. Sell things that are extraneous to accomplishing your goal. Don’t make large purchases that don’t contribute to it. Pay down your debt as much as possible. Question your expenses. Cut back on those not crucial to your quality of life, but you pay out of habit. For us it was our cable bill, as we found we used wireless more than cable. For others, it may be an unused health club membership or frequent visits to a shopping mall or restaurants. Live below your means as much as possible without jeopardizing your quality of life. Put anything you save towards your goal.
Also look for creative options to reach your goal. Sometimes the answers appear unexpectedly. For us, we decided we would rent our house because we wanted a place to return to after our year abroad. We were clearing our house and selling unneeded possessions when my youngest daughter decided to move back to Slidell. Her and her husband needed a place to live, so we decided to rent our home to them.
While that solution may not work if you have younger children, there may be other solutions. Maybe you don’t want to live abroad, you want to pack everything up in a camper in the U.S. or you want to do something less ambitious like take a course or learn a new language; look determinedly for ways to accomplish what you want to achieve. Don’t let anything be an excuse not to do it. Let it be a problem to be solved to get where you want to be!
After over a year of research and planning we have finally reached the point of seeing our dream become a reality. We left on Feb. 27 to begin our adventure in Pula, Croatia. In this blog, I will be posting the stages of our journey and our future exploits in Europe. I encourage everyone out there to pursue their goals whatever they may be. And in the coming months, I will share my experiences throughout Croatia and the rest of Europe.
Are you ready to make a mid-life change? Start planning today. We can take the journey together!