The Method in the Madness

I am Refining my Transition Plan. There is a method to the madness. My whole transition process was based on the process of Innovation Thinking (based on my career as a product designer).   For those of you new to my blog, this process is:

REFLECT: A deep self-discovery introspection that becomes the foundational insights for creating a “life vision” statement. I recently blogged about my favorite tools for clarifying and articulating who you are, who you want to be, your core value, your interests.   This time in reflection helps you to decide what stays, what goes, and what’s added to life so you love your new retirement life.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart”.

Carl Jung

 

IMAGINE: Creating a Possibilities for Life list. More than just a project list or a bucket list of all those places I want to visit (although those things are on it as well), this was about creating a 150+ item list of all future life possibilities, from passions to dreams to inklings – in work, leisure, volunteering, relationships, lifestyle. It’s about skills/talents I want to use and ones I want to learn. Yes, writing a blog was on my list! And yes, things continue to be added to the list.

 

ASSESS: It’s actually been proven that too many options can cause stress in the selection and promotes lack of choice. Analysis paralysis! This phase of the process was about choosing activities that best matched the vision of life I created (the output of Reflect), which was based on my values, strengths and interests.   I compared a handful of picks from my Possibilities List back to life vision to make choices in creating an initial Retirement Lifestyle Plan. I chose a starting set of activities focusing on Relationships, Leisure, and Wellbeing.

By making choices, I focused energy on the important few instead of the insignificant many.   It also helped me avoid busyness for the sake of busyness and have an inner conviction to say “no” to things that were not right for me (even though others thought I should do them).

 

ACTIVATE: By design or by default, the next life stage will happen. Design the Life you want by exploring new activities on your Retirement Lifestyle Plan, setting goals, and, if necessary, changing habits.

For me, it became a balance of scheduled events and keeping time open for spontaneity and relaxation. The planner I am loves weekly plans filled with activities than inspire, energize and satisfy me. But I also need some do-nothing time!  I also found that it’s about considering both me-time and we-time with my husband.

This phase was also about understanding my personal barriers to change and how to break thru them. One of mine was “activation energy” on new activities! So I have signed up for classes (paid the fees), scheduled activities with others (they are not happy if I’m a no-show), and made public commitments (and now friends check back with me on them).

Even though I am a planner, there might be a bit of over-kill with my word of the year (SOAR) plus a year vision board, a 52 New Things in 2018 goal, and seasonal bucket lists (action plans). LOL. But it works for me.

 

REFINE: My Retirement Lifestyle Plan is not set in stone – I can continually refresh, rejuvenate, and revise it. Every couple of months I am reviewing my goals and measures and revising my activity engagement; this has linked timing-wise to the seasonal bucket lists that many bloggers do. I regularly look at my Possibilities List for new things to add onto the calendar as others drop off.

“Let go of the past and go for the future.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.

Live the life you imagined.”

Thoreau

 

At this point in my retirement transition with some big milestones reached this past year, I am feeling a need for some refinement of my bigger life vision. So I’ve planned some future scenario writing and vision boarding to see if my current life vision statement still feels “right” and what choices from my possibilities list I can bring in for the next couple of years.

While this might feel too structured for some, I am a structure-girl and spent my career (successfully) designing future innovations. Now, the innovation I am designing is my retirement lifestyle and the Me I want to be.

 

Are you designing your retirement lifestyle or letting it happen?

 

Picture Credit: Pixabay

 

37 thoughts on “The Method in the Madness

  1. Hmmmmm. I would say that I am designing about 20% and letting it happen about 80%. That said, I am extremely happy and satisfied with where things stand right now. If I wasn’t happy, I’d be making adjustments for sure.

    It’s a little hard to explain, but I have a core vision in my head for sure. I just don’t make the effort to commit it to paper. That vision is constantly being tweaked and modified as time goes on and experiences dictate changes.

    I probably could stand a little more explicit introspection and planning than I currently do, but it’s a little hard to find the motivation when I am so happy with the current state of affairs.

    Who knows? Maybe 2019 will be the Year of Planning………..

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  2. I so agree that too many options cause stress. But I think we are faced with so many options all the time from the moment we wake up until the moment we put our heads on the pillow. I think retirement really should be a time when we are allowed to live more simply, the way we choose, and to constantly redefine and reassess. #MLSTL

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    1. Johanna, I like that phrase “constantly redefine and reassess”… that is exactly what I’m needing right now. I might end up still on the same path (starting to feel that way), but it’s by choice.

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  3. Pat our retirement plan was loosey goosey which worked for us for the first year and a half. We knew we wanted to travel and spend winters in Fl and that was the only plan. Of course with husbands health issues now it is very loose.

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    1. Victoria, for some folks, loose and spontaneous is the right thing. I live with someone like that and he just rolls his eyes at my vision boards, lists, and planning activities. (He does enjoy the fruit of that planning though.) My health issue definitely changed some of our plans, so I understand that as well. But if loose works for you, be loose and enjoy it!

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    1. Thanks Donna. So far it’s not feeling very new & different … which maybe says I’m on the right path at the moment. I guess I need to resolve the fact that my vision is not very “grand”! But I’m going to still do some more visioning activities to see where they take me.

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  4. Hi Pat I’ve just found your blog and will be a follower for sure 🙂 I’ve just had a big lifestyle change and so not working at the mo, I had planned to go back, but am, let’s say dithering and feel Im thinking of dipping my toe into maybe retiring early (I’m 53 this year) although having worked all my life, I’ve got the ‘guilt’ thing going. I’ve done my sums and made plans and I could do it – it’s more the mind set. I am a planner and get the jitters a little if things don’t go the way they should so have swayed more to living each day as it comes with a plan out there somewhere 🙂 It’ll all work out for sure 🙂

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    1. Welcome! I retired early at age 53 myself. It came sooner than planned, so I had no plan except the finances were going to be OK. I’m a planner and I decided that my first year not-working was going to be my year to figure it all out & create a Plan. It took longer than that, because things happened along the way, but I learned a lot about myself and grew a lot also. Hubby never plans anything and continues to live each day as it comes… so that works for some as well! Glad to have you along on this journey.

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  5. Hi Pat, at this stage we’re in the let’s see what happens stage of our retirement! I like to plan but I know that plans can be blown out of the water too. I like your statement in response to Suzanne, that it’s good to have things to retire to rather retire from. I enjoyed this look at another side of transitioning. #mlstl

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    1. Debbie, Oh yeah, plans can get blown out of the water. In the past 4 years, we’ve had 2 big “crashes” (I’ve blogged about both – one an 18-month plan that disintegrated overnight and the other a health related one). But, I (we) adjusted plans and survived. It hasn’t stopped me from planning going forward though. 🙂

      I wish I had more things to retire to versus having to figure it all out on the fly, but that’s all hindsight … and advise I give to friends who are not yet retired!

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  6. Hi Pat, I’m constantly defining and redefining my retirement lifestyle plan. As a planner and a person who loves to live by a schedule, leaving time for being spontaneous and also having time out to do nothing if I want to is sometimes not easy. I have been struggling these last few months but trying to keep a ‘brave face’ on things. I am very blessed with all that I have and perhaps I just need to take your ‘analysis paralysis’ advise and let me mind rest. I’m always learning from you and other wonderfully, wise women. Thank you for being part of the #MLSTL community and sharing your wisdom. xx

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    1. Sue, As I sit here facing a day with nothing planned…and having a minor tizzy… I get it. When I leave time open, spontaneous stuff just doesn’t seem to happen. LOL But I’m telling myself, it’s OK, just “putter”. And so I will. And maybe sit and read a book on the porch this afternoon. And recognize that I too am very blessed.

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  7. I am an organized and a planner, but for some reason, I have given no thought to structuring retirement. I’ve just kinda let it happen – and quite frankly, I’m not pleased. In 2009 I took my first writing class, How to Revise Your Life, and it significantly impacted my life. You have inspired me to head into this next phase with more intention. Thank you! Pinning to my #MLSTL board for future reference.

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    1. Molly, Thank you for letting me know this inspired you. I also entered retirement with no plan. And through self-discovery realized I need structure; I need plans. Some folks live fine without it… but the fact that you “not pleased” with letting it happen… that’s a sign, isn’t it? Your work on the memoirs will hopefully give you lots of fodder to design going forward!

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  8. You are definitely more intentional and bigger picture than I am Pat. I haven’t hit the reality of full retirement yet, so I’m just gradually growing my interests as the time becomes available. I don’t think I have the energy or ability to generate and accomplish half of what you’ve set yourself to do, but I’m happy to sit on the sidelines and cheer you on!
    #MLSTL 🙂

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    1. Leanne, And I so adore my blogging buddy cheerleaders! My personal vision for retirement consistently includes an element of being active. Maybe because for so much of my life I wasn’t. Or maybe I’m just re-directing my workaholic tendencies. Not sure, but I do know I am happier when I am active, eating more healthy (including the cooking), and connecting with folks either on-line or IRL – walking & conversation, eating & conversion, etc. The planning is not right for everyone, but it’s definitely “me”. Knowing your true self and then living it is really what this life stage is all about. That I’m learning from my blogging buddies for sure!

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    1. Natalie, I might try that approach. Usually I have either fully planned days or fully unplanned days and those unplanned days can leave me (the planner) feeling antsy. Today is a fully planned day of course!

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  9. Hello Pat — wow, you are a planner. Me, not so much. I think this is partly because as the 7th of 8 children I never really got my way, then I lived under a very restrictive vow of obedience for 13 years in the convent, and then had three children and a husband’s schedules to juggle along with fulltime employment! (I’m tired thinking about it). I finally am in a spot – self-employed that I get to call the shots and for the most part CAN make plans, but I still go with the flow. If the sun is shining the room painting can wait. I’m loving the freedom. That said, your post inspires me to get a bit more focused as I do have projects I’m hoping to accomplish in preparation for my transition from employment to retirement. I still have a few years at least…

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    1. Janet, I totally understand different people need different things. I live with someone who does not plan anything. Everything is go with the flow. (Interestingly he is the 3rd of 10. Maybe it’s a big family thing?) I’m trying to learn a bot more go with the flow…. but doubt the planner in me will ever go away!

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  10. Hi Pat,
    I’m a planner all the way too – as you know – but I bow to your superiority in this excellent post. Great job of synthesizing all of the actions you’ve taken to get you where you are now and primed for figuring out your next steps. Can’t wait to hear them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen, you know by now I am a synthesizer and have frameworks and lists for most everything. Anal perhaps. This process was actually planned out in the beginning. It really is based on the Innovation Process (also called design thinking) I used repeatedly in my career. It’s also the basis of the book I’ve drafted. Refining the plan now feels like what I need to do, but I’m also confirming that a lot of the life visioning i did is still “right”. Which feels good to!

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  11. Hi Pat! I too enjoy quite a bit of structure and planning but I pale in comparison 😉 Plus, I do know that I have mellowed out some during the last few years. Things that seems very important to do, now seem to take a back seat to just enjoying the “nowness” of a moment. While I doubt I will ever give up my structure or my love of planning, I am gradually shifting toward becoming comfortable with more uncertainty and more flexible in my reactions. Not only does that feel most rewarding right now, but I think I’m also easier to live with 🙂 I enjoy reading of your experience and look forward to seeing how it unfolds as the years roll by. ~Kathy

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    1. Kathy, Maybe I will mellow some on the planning as I learn to be more in the moment. The fact that I can do that even sometimes now is new for me! Many of my blogging buddies, like you, are showing me the “how” of being that way. A learning curve for sure.

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  12. I really enjoy reading your blog but I find that the gray font is very hard to read. Those of us who are retirement age often have issues seeing low contrast images.

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    1. Laurel, Thanks so much for your feedback! I didn’t realize it came through gray… I type in black and didn’t realize the system puts it into gray. I will correct going forward (and did try and edit on this one… hopefully it worked.)

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    1. Deb, I love when I see folks planning their retirement in advance, but still knowing that there will be tweaks. I didn’t do that planning, hence the detailed process after I retired. But many of the phases can be done before and then… the anticipation of activation… or even some activation pre-retirement! Wow. That’s the best option!

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  13. Good question Pat, designing would not be how we are doing it. Our lifestyle is more about having an overall idea of how we want to spend our time, which is housesitting and travelling. Until it comes to the stage, we can no longer afford to travel so much, or our health dictates that we need to stay in New Zealand. I certainly have many activities [art, blogging, tramping club etc.] I would like to do and will do when we finish travelling, so for me having ‘things’ to look forward to is essential to my [ours] retirement plan.

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      1. Funny when I hear the word “expert”, I tend to switch off. Plus, too many people on the bandwagon telling the obvious to those who are silly enough to listen. I believe everyone is quite capable of working out what they want, just a matter of time and confidence.

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  14. Hi, Pat – I’ve greatly missed reading your posts. I wholeheartedly agree that our Retirement Lifestyles should not be set in stone and should have the flexibility to change/adjust/adapt wherever appropriate. Your closing question is a good one. For me, my current answer is “a little of both”!

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    1. Hi Donna and welcome back to the blog-o-sphere! The planner in me shudders at the “let it happen”, but I know that is about being more in the moment, being flexible, and saying yes to possibilities when they present themselves …so I do try and be that way too. But planning first, letting it happen a far second! LOL.

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