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It’s OK to be confused - simplify to fix it

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

How Self Directed is Your Self Directed Search? What else is pulling You?

Let's Start with a quote: "Complexity is the enemy of everyday working Americans trying to build toward a financially secure retirement." Mark Miller, author of the book Retirement Reboot

Retire is a word that in itself confuses. It basically means withdraw. Well, you can withdraw from life if that's your choice, and complexity is a turn off. Too much information and not enough reliable filters to decide what is or is not relevant to You. Where is your Greener Pasture (as portrayed in the cartoon by Wiley). Money is important, but is itself a very complicated subject. For now, try to keep it as simple as possible.

We seek simplicity, yet we do not want to miss anything. This causes bad investment decisions, bad relationships, neglect of health regimens, and lack of knowing where we can coast a little while we focus on something that could be a threat. In short, we become risk averse where risk is required. Or we thirst for risk to feel alive (why else go to see the Titanic Or fly into space like William Shatner?)

Over Age 50 is an Undiscovered Country, and We are all Immigrants

That's why fortune tellers will always have job security. We all want to know what is going to happen to us and those we care about tomorrow - not so intensely the next month or year. How far ahead do you want to plan? Many say it's too complex to go beyond next week or next year! Complexity becomes the enemy again, creating confusion and hopelessness, when we want to count on something that we can, by God, count on!

Homo Sapiens has struggled with this for nigh onto 100,000 years and we have made some progress in the external world that allows some planning. Not so much internally. Abraham Maslow described our internal ascendancy in his Pyramid of Needs. It starts with Survival - food, shelter, etc. Moving upwards still is a struggle to reach Self Actualization (the highest and most gratifying level). As the blog title asks: Is your search self directed? You might look up Maslow in Wikipedia and estimate where you are now and from day to day. It might serve to simplify your thinking about you.

Simplicity Demands We Do Something

Each day dawns and can be used wisely or not. If your search for the future is only external it will likely go awry. After some years of wrestling with this issue, my suggestion is that you start with a simple daily list of what you must do and what you would like to do. In the evening, brace this up with a short reflection on the list. What did you get done and why? What was left undone and why? Keep this log for awhile, and hopefully compare it to one a friend is keeping at the same time. Compare ways to improve your logs.

Next, Set some small goals in three areas only: Health, Relationships, and Resources. These will be YOUR small goals - plug them into how you are using your time control. Form habits of DOING. Then see what you learned.

There are other ways of doing this, but I think they are inherently more complex. Stay simple. Better to stay in the shallow end of the pool. It's the fastest way to get to your Greener Pasture.


Life over age 50 can be thought of as beyond your control. It is naturally confusing - like being an immigrant in a new country where few speak our language. It's a problem and only a process will solve it. Use a simple one. Tell me about it when you can! I love feedback in my own self directed search.

And end with a Quote: "For the self development of men and women it is absolutely necessary that they should be alone with themselves at least an hour a day to get the blessing of solitude" - Wm J. H. Boetcker

Happy Days Ahead

Joe Grant, MBA

Certified Retirement Coach

Contact me for a Free 45 minute Consultation at

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