Retirement Transition – It’s the Journey

For many years, my husband has given me things (T-shirts, bumper stickers, magnets) with variations of the iconic quote “It’s the journey, not the destination.” He did it teasingly because as a Type-A, goal-setting workaholic, I was always about the destination. In retirement I am (slowly) coming to realize it IS about the journey.  And thankfully, after our recent derailment, I’m feeling like the journey is once more “in motion”!

But the goal-setter achiever in me still needs to know, how do you measure the experience and not focus on just achievement of the endpoint?

– First measure – Am I enjoying it? This is my life, so am I having fun living it? Is the activity I’m engaging in really what I want versus what I think I should be doing? The retirement “shoulds” can come from well-meaning individuals and/or long-term beliefs. There’s even the research that says what retirement should include – a sense of purpose, volunteering, healthy living, supportive connections. I continue to sort through the “should” to my true desires – a challenge that continual self-discovery helps. Enjoying the activities I choose is a great measure of success along the journey.

– Second measure – Am I giving it my best shot? So many new things to try and determine if they fit in my journey– from daily journaling to taking classes to starting an exercise program with walking, zumba and yoga. So am I giving each aspect a best shot incorporating it into the journey? Which also means intentionally choosing to focus on fewer things, so I can put in the effort on new things.

– Third measure – Am I seeing my vision come to life? Having a vision, in both words and visuals, is important for me being the goal-setter. Regularly checking to see if my weekly activities are aligned with that vision gives me regular measure of progress.

Have I fully transitioned to being all about the journey and not the destination?   No. But I am trying to enjoy the journey, and live every day fully.

Are you more about the journey or the destination in your retirement?


14 thoughts on “Retirement Transition – It’s the Journey

  1. I am definitely more about the journey than the destination, although I do like looking back at all the things I’ve done over the years! Maybe that’s what I cherish most – the stories and memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So any of the writing on mindfulness talk about being in the present, not focused on either the future or the past. I too love the stories from my past, remembering the moments of delight.

      For me however, trying to live more in the present instead of the “someday” of a life of delayed gratification has been the big shift. And a learning curve.


  2. Thanks for another thought-provoking post, Pat. As I thought about your question, it occurred to me that the ultimate destination of my life has set from birth. The death rate remains one per person. So for me, I want life to always be about the journey. I want to let go, to the degree I’m able, of my anxieties about the future so I can savor each moment along the way and increase the well-being of those with whom I am blessed to share the road. I am thankful right now for you, for bringing wisdom, insight and joy to my life. L’chaim!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, John. “Savor each moment” is a wonderful thought and something I am trying to learn to do. Having taken a 14 hour road trip yesterday, that was a test of my learning to enjoy the journey. And, alas, I did not pass with flying colors. I did however, watch the beauty of spring along the road, which was delightful. Still focused on getting to the endpoint, but trying to enjoy the path. I’ve said often, I am a beginner at this “life stuff”!


  3. Ha ha. I don’t want to think about the next “destination” , so I am really focusing on the journey! I guess I have spent a couple of years just freewheeling and decompressing without too many long-term goals (tons of short-term goals though), but now maybe it is time to start setting at least a few milestones since who knows how much time we each have left. I’d kind of hate to just fritter the rest of my time away without having at least a few accomplishments to show for it. However, I spent 30+ years sweating bullets over deadlines imposed on me by someone else, so there will be none of that high-pressure stuff in retirement! If I don’t make a destination in the allotted time, it is just rescheduled.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do like having goals and plans, but am learning to not stress over the detours. Stopping to chat with neighbors and not getting all the yard work done… who cares. There is tomorrow, if it doesn’t rain…and if not, the day after. And if we decide to go shopping instead of what was on the “plan”, that’s OK too. It’s a very different mind-set than deadlines!


  4. After reading your post, it occurred to me that, in retirement, our “destination” is much harder to define. Is it the PERFECT retirement (probably not since that would be early impossible to define or achieve), is it our eventual death (easy to define and achieve, but certainly not something we’d like to have as our goal)? It’s so different from work, where we typically had a series of projects with easily defined (either by us or by or bosses) endpoints and outcomes.

    I really think – at this stage of life – it really is all about the journey. There’s nothing wrong (and, it’s probably desirable) with having goals along the way, but I don’t see those as true “destinations.” It’s like flying to Fort Lauderdale for a cruise through the Panama Canal, back to San Diego. I’d be foolish, and miss so much, if home was the destination I focused on.

    Thank you for another thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Switching from a getting there to enjoying the journey is definitely a mind-set shift. I’ve struggled with cruises because of that! To me it was always what ports and what were we doing there…not enjoying the “at sea” element at all! I can’t image how I would deal with a Panama Canal trip – Hah!


  5. Hi, Pat – I’m a fellow (ex)A-typer, who is doing her best not to recreate my work life within my retirement life. Although I am a big believer in reflection, I have also realized that we do not always need to measure. Just enjoy … (and repeat when desired and delete when not!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe someday I’ll not need to have measures. Just not yet. I still look at my weekly to-do list and see how many things are checked off… for the feeling of accomplishment. Sigh. But I am learning to “repeat when enjoyed and delete when not”! That saying “no” to things is a huge learning curve for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As someone who’s also always trying to measure and assess, I totally related to these. #2 is a great point for any activity we’re trying to incorporate into our lives — it’s not necessarily fair to judge it if we haven’t given it a real chance. Good stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In retirement, it is so much harder to have measures! There are no project deadlines, no sales goals, no yearly reviews. And I wanted measures that were more about the doing. Being a beginner at things is really tough after coming off being an expert (at work). So that measure is helpful to me… am I really giving it a try? BTW – so far, pottery class – gave it a fair shot and have some really lovely not-round snack bowls… but I’m not going to be a potter. Yoga, still doing. Cooking boot camp… it was fun, but I’m not going to be a gourmet cook either. Totally appreciate those who are! Blogging/writing… still doing! 🙂 My next big one….learning to swim. (super scary)


      1. That’s a great list of new activities you’re trying! I’m an awful swimmer — I can stay afloat or get across a pool, but that’s about it. Definitely something I could improve upon. Good luck with it!


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