Five years ago (April 2014) I was given the option of an early retirement package. I had no plan. I was a cynical workaholic with few life hobbies, and not a good genetic profile of longevity. I needed to get a life, before I died. I took the package and began the journey to figure out how to live (as opposed to knowing how to work).
What was my retirement going to be? I started with the “do what is expected”! After all, that was how I had lived my life so far – meeting expectations. So what is typically expected for retirees? Here’s the list I was given to pick from: More engagement with your grandkids, Start a second career, Travel extensively, Increase your hobby engagement, Volunteer more, and Work out more. Given that I couldn’t do the grandparent thing, had no hobbies or workout program to speak of, and constraints on travel because of family responsibility, I focused on continuing to work (start second career) and became an Innovation Consultant and a Life Coach. Everyone I knew seemed to ask me about what I was going to do (implying work at) next, so working on a second career seemed the easiest option. I knew how to work. So much for getting a life!
But I also started thinking about what I really wanted. Not just to meet societal and family expectations, but what I wanted as my authentic self. This took a lot of self-discovery and exploration – who was I really? What exactly was “living” to me? What was MY ideal retirement lifestyle? How do I balance my vision of retirement with my husband’s radically different vision of retirement?
I spent time thinking through my values. Not what I was expected to value, but what I really valued. And I had to get clear on what my strengths were, especially as I discovered a tendency to regularly feel incompetent and less than. I used a life domains framework to define a holistic life vision and then created exploration plans in each area. Yes, this is the process I detailed in my book – Retirement Transition. (available at Amazon.com!)
So looking back now, did it work? Did I “get a life”? I think so and here are some of the highlights in the areas I’ve chosen as part of my retirement lifestyle vision… the beyond-the-work areas.
- Play with Words – I discovered a love of writing and words. Beyond reading and doing crosswords, I created & maintain this blog (almost 3 years now), and wrote & published my book. I’ve recently joined a book club, am reading and synthesizing what I read about spirituality, and am exploring some additional writing opportunities.
- Intentional Connections – Nurturing relationship became a must-do as upon retirement I lost 80% of my regular connections. I still actively plan and execute intentional connections with others – from regular Theater Dates with hubby to Walk & Talks with girlfriends to all kinds of Fun with Friend’s activities. My friends do appreciate my being the planner and I’ve come to realize it’s my gift to them.
- Get Out & About – My life vision is to be active and mini-adventures are a big part of this vision. I have bucket list items to check off (like doing a zip line, learn to swim, cross the equator, getting a professional photo shoot – all done) and a Personal Possibilities List for things to consider and explore. In 2018, I did 130 new things including new restaurants & new foods (I am a foodie, for sure). This area also included some out-of-comfort zone stuff (motorcycle class, learn to swim, joining a philanthropic group) and a once in a lifetime trip (African Safari).
- Healthy Living – Move More and Eat Better are two big elements here. I continue to do weekly yoga, weekly Zumba, and a weekly hike. For a never-had-any-exercise-program person, this is a big deal. I have started cooking more. I tried multiple food delivery services last year, regularly take cooking classes with friends, and we do have more fruits and veggies in the house. In this area was also the unexpected beat cancer goal and ongoing physical therapy that seems to have been an outcome of that fight.
- The Artist Within – This life area continues to be the most challenging of my life vision areas. I’ve explored a number of things but seem to struggle with activating ideas I put on my to-do lists. Writing is a component of my creativity, but I really I do want something more here.
- A Welcoming Home – Security & structure are important to me and part of that was finding and creating a new home structure. We spent time (and energy) to find my SIL a permanent, independent living situation, and then right-sized and de-cluttered our own space, including becoming an antique dealer for 4 months to get rid of things. And finally last year, we did our first snowbird winter in Florida, beginning the creation of two welcoming homes.
- Practice Positivity – This area is really about my self-development and encompasses many things including morning journaling, exploring meditation, regular gratitude lists, seasonal buckets lists (to provide feelings of accomplishment), and self-care. Shifting from a cynical workaholic to an optimistic appreciator of life has been a journey.
I enjoyed taking time at this 5 year milestone to look back and see what I’ve accomplished. I was pleased to see I’ve gone from No Plan to a full Live Life framework of retirement lifestyle activities.
Do you look back at life milestones to see how your journey is progressing?
Picture credit – me – spring is here!