The Adjustments

earthTrust me, aging brings change along with it. Some of the changes are predictable, others not. In the hope of helping us learn better ways to deal with change, I would like to share with you the experiences I’m going through and how I am adapting to the changes they bring about.

To do that I am starting a new series of blog posts entitled “The Adjustments”. It is designed to address the issues that I am facing associated with aging and how I am adapting to them — sometimes successfully and sometimes less so.

For each of us one thing is certain. At some time in the future we will die. When I was growing up in the 1930s Social Security –a.k.a., Old Age Benefits (OAB) –- was just introduced. They came into play at 65. The expectation was that you might make it to that age, or perhaps longer. My dad died at 68. The bottom line is that the amount of time we have left here on Mother Earth is uncertain. I certainly can attest to that at 91, going on 92. For each of us that opens up the question “What do we want to do during the rest of our lives?” There’s another way is to ask that question. In light of the uncertainty, how do we want to use our limited remaining time, energy, resources and funds (TERF).

I’ve addressed the question and here’s what I’ve come up with. Let me begin by telling you a little about myself.  I call myself a nominally retired economist. I have lived alone here in Carrboro in a two-bedroom ground-floor apartment for the last 15 years. One of the bedrooms serves as my office-study-studio-playspace. I am pretty much able to do all the things necessary to take care of myself on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis with some occasional help. (You can see more about me in the blog post entitled “Me–Then ’til Now“). My primary objective is to do just that — that is, to take responsibility for and take care of myself and when I require assistance, to compensate those who provide it. Most of my remaining disposable time, energy, resources and funds (TERF) are used in finding ways in which, based on my background, experience, and expertise, I can help others. The books, essays, video and blog posts on this blog are a part of my contribution. My plan is to continue on that path. Hopefully that will be part of my legacy.

For each of us the issue of change begins with taking a look at where we are now — the status quo ante. It starts by looking at our current situation and surroundings and asking what do we do to take care of ourselves on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis. The choices we make and the path wetime take, use up some amount of the time, energy, resources and funds (TERF) that we have available. Importantly, each of them is limited. More about that later.

The next thing that comes into play is our objectives and priorities. How do we want to spend our limited TERF? By looking back at our lives we can see what we have done in the recent past. Included is examining the obligations and commitments we have taken on along with the amount of TERF that is required to successfully meet those commitments. That is where the discussion of change begins.

Do we like what we see? Are we meeting our objectives? Should we consider changing our priorities so that we spend more of our limited TERF on things we would prefer doing? Do we enjoy doing what we do? Are we happy with the results or should we consider changing the way we do things, our objectives and/or our priorities? If the answer to those questions opens up the possibility for improvement, it is time to consider making a change.

Change also comes about when the conditions over which we have no control become different; for example, when we become ill, have a fall or lose our job. The changes can also be favorable, like getting a raise, having a child, completing our education, or winning the lottery. In fact, some changes may be the result of the successful completion of the path we took, like getting the degree or producing a new work of art. Those changes force us on to a new path and along with it a re-examination of our objectives and priorities. In every case the change requires an adjustment in the way in which we manage our limited TERF.

That brings us back to a discussion of the consequences of the limited time, energy, resources and funds (TERF). Since each of them is limited, the amount that we use in any attempt to fulfill any objective makes it impossible to use it for anything else. Consequently, we give up whatever else that TERF could have been used for. Economists have a name for it. We call it the “opportunity cost” resulting from your choice — the foregone opportunity. Each of us takes the consequences of the opportunity cost of those decisions, even when we do not take them into consideration beforehand.

That realization and approach opens up the possibility of an after-the-fact review. It is asking ourselves the question, “Could I have handled the situation in a way that would have made me feel better off, using the same amount or less of my time, energy resources and funds (TERF)?

Let’s look at adjustment to change from that perspective. In each of the related blog posts in the series, I’ll talk about the changes I’ve experienced (some recently, others in the past) and how I have responded to them. My hope is that you will find them helpful.

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