Tony Leighton is a Canadian writer happily retired and attempting to help others feel the same.

Changing the Way We Keep Score

How we measure ourselves often gets in the way when we stop working and making money because based on that way of scoring, our scores plummet. It's a classic path to depression for some retirees because money and self-worth can be so tightly bound.

I make no bones about how much my earning power drove me as a freelance writer. There were lots of other reasons to do my kind of work. Money, for me, was a big one.

Then I knew it was time to stop. And if you change the game, you have to change how you score.

It took some time and emotional effort, but I’ve convinced myself of three things that have allowed me to change the way I score:

1. I have enough. People with less money might laugh at that. ("Ha, lucky you.") Yet people with plenty more money still think they don’t have enough. For someone who has always made the earning of money a priority, the statement, “We have enough” is a psychological breakthrough. You have to repeat it several hundred times to believe it.

2. My time is worth more than the extra money. I’m at that point. Some people never get there because there isn't enough. Others can't make the mental shift. I know an octogenarian who only seems happy when talking about money. It has eaten all his time and rendered him a crashing bore. I feel lucky that the time-for-money trade no longer feels worth it to me, at least in excess.

3. I’ve replaced money with new ways to score. My measurements of retirement success are non-pecuniary. They are more about life’s meaning.

Here are ten:

  • Enjoying friendships unhurriedly

  • Reciprocating generously in conversation

  • Listening with no agenda

  • Slowing down to absorb and think things through

  • Making children feel special

  • Being a worthy example

  • Giving more and taking less

  • Seeking beauty, especially in nature and art

  • Staying strong and healthy

  • Relaxing guiltlessly

There are more. The points build up.

Are you living on leftovers?

Designing a Better Question