From No Plan to a Full Life Framework

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!

37 thoughts on “From No Plan to a Full Life Framework

  1. Plan? Plan??? We don’t need no stinkin’ plan. Hahahahaha. Well yes, we probably do. I do not have a fully developed, written down plan like you do, but as I think back, there has been a LOT of planning and accomplishment in the (almost) five years since I have retired. However, most of it has been intuitive (matching my strong Myers-Briggs “N” component). I have, by experience, defined and at least partially sorted out what I want to do with the rest of my life. However, I still need to refine that even more. I am in the process of reading your book to help with that. I do a thorough skim (oxymoron?) reading the first time to get a sense of the entire book and then I go back and dig in, doing all of the exercises, using the tools, etc. I am near the end of the initial reading and just about ready to start the heavy lifting.

    My main problem so far is my breadth and diversity of interests and my desire to try everything NOW! I have recognized recently that I have to rein in those impulses. I can’t do it all. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. So, I am hoping that by going through your process, I can winnow out some of the chaff and identify the grains that I really want to keep. That said, I am going to be flexible and modify what I am doing based on changing interests and life circumstances.

    You have done a great job for yourself and are a valuable model for the rest of us. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bob, I like the idea of winnowing down, and keeping some things for later as well. It gives you things to look forward to for the next 25-30 years, not just the next 5!

      And you should recognize a few elements of the book… it was the core I what you & Jackie did with me in the workshops. Although I did do some of the early self-discovery/REFLECT things again after a couple of years, to confirm my values, strengths and interests. It helped me settle into it more as well.

      No plan, hmm? How is the fix-up the workshop plan taking shape?

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      1. The workshop plan is coming along. I went through each tool or other important element and made a list of what needs to be done and prioritized those items. I have started executing now. It will keep me busy for quite a while, because I am still making things concurrently.

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  2. Hi Pat,
    For someone without an initial plan, I am so impressed at how this has rolled out for you. We did have some plans in place, but those have changed along the way, too, and we are less than a year in. My blog and writing was part of the plan for me as I felt that I needed to be connected to a project and wanted to refresh my skills as well. But it, at times, does seem like I have taken on a parttime job!
    I’m reflecting as well, and I don’t think this ends, but continues us in our evolution to be our best selves.
    Am loving the freedom of retirement. But at the end of the day everything we do is a choice, and I want to maximize my choices along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nancy, I get how sometimes blogging can feel like a job. Because it’s not just about the writing. It’s about the connecting which requires reading, commenting, and responding. I still enjoy it, so I still keep on doing it… and yes, it’s a choice!

      I’m spending quite a bit of time in reflecting as well. My focus right now is personal spirituality, so there will be some blogs forthcoming on that topic! What are you reflecting on?

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      1. Reflection is ongoing…relationships mostly at this time. Also, still thinking about how I want this retirement to “roll out”.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love ALL of this, Pat (although I may be a bit partial to all your writing endeavors) 🙂
    After today, I have three more classes and a graduation ceremony and then I am officially retired. While I had a trial run four years ago, I know this time is for real – and I’m struggling a wee bit. Yes, I’m excited, but I know so much of my identity is wrapped up in my job. Who am I when I no longer have that role in my life?

    I am pinning this valuable post to my #mlstl board for future reference. I know I want to be a well-rounded retiree, and I think you have some excellent practices that I want to implement.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Molly, in my book, I have a whole list of roles that you can create identity from. And in today’s society, that is a hyphened identity for sure. Some days I am a foodie-listaholic-blogger. A structure girl, a planner. Now a published author (as are you!). My first year of retirement was a roller coaster of emotion… don’t feel you’re alone in the struggle. Reach out…. many of us are here to support you. Welcome to the retirement journey.

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  4. I didn’t have much of a plan but have enjoyed the journey so far. I enjoyed reading your plans and intentions. I also like to have a bit of a daily schedule but also like being spontaneous. It’s so interesting reading how you have gone about it. I always enjoy your writing! #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Debbie. I was known as a planner and detail person on the job. I guess that was part of the real me and not just the job. I’ve decided I am a structure girl, trying to be more flexible and spontaneous, but still at heart a structure girl.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Pat, you’ve been so intentional in creating your retirement. Maybe I’ll be able to write something like this in 5 years time, but I doubt it. Atm I’m still trying to figure the whole thing out – and pouring my thoughts out all over my husband, friends and blog! I think what surprises me the most is how much I’m enjoying not working and not having so much structure in my life. For such an ordered person, I’m amazed at how Flexibility has risen to the top of my simple pleasures list. I don’t have a bucket list, I don’t have any hard and fast plans, just a sense of calm and peace – something I’d been sorely missing in that nightmare job I just left!
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leanne, Stop the self-doubt! I can see you writing something like this, with your own twist (a BIG cup of coffee catch-up?) in just 2-3 years!

      And, there is very often a period of time after retirement (which you might have done on leaving your job) that you are in a lull. At times it can feel freeing, but sometimes it can also feel like you’re between two trapeze holds without a net. Don’t get too upset if that feeling arises… I said my first year was like a roller coaster of emotions.

      You also might find you like the flexibility of no planning. I found over time I needed the structure, but many folks do not need it. Let it come to you which is best for you.

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  6. Hi Pat, we have certainly followed similar paths since retiring and you are full of so much wisdom. I’m enjoying your book and wish I had had it when I retired. I love your ‘full life framework’ and it is quite easy to do isn’t it? People get hung up on ‘I’m retired and feel lost’ when all they need to do is take a deep breath, remember that life is there to be lived and take the time to work out what they want from life. I was someone who was in the ‘I’m retired and feel lost’ category but I found blogging and 4.5 years later I’m loving it – although at times I do put pressure on myself with the blog and FB group, I don’t think I would have it any other way. Thank you for another insightful and helpful post and sharing at #MLSTL. Have a great week! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sue, I get the feeling of being lost. I felt that way quite a bit the first 1-2 years. It’s was hard to admit that i had to work at figuring it all out…. you think it should be easy. But it takes time to figure out what’s right for you and not just a copy of someone else’s life. And I had a hard time figuring out HOW to do that…. hence the book! Blogging has certainly helped me as well. I’ve found many kindred spirits on the journey. Women and men who inspire me, cheer me on. And thanks for #MLSTL…. I look forward to Wednesday’s and seeing who’s linked up!

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  7. Hi Pat, you have to be pleased with that list of accomplishments! I think the first year or so it is all about figuring out what’s next and what you want and who you are. Then the next phase is becoming more of those things! I finished your book and really enjoyed it. It fills a hole in the retirement planning market. I wrote a review- I hope it showed up on Amazon.

    P.S. I might try some of those cooking boxes and deliveries. I like to eat good food, but don’t like to cook it or shop for it! I also don’t want to expense of constantly eating out. This is one of my areas for future growth!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michele, Thank you so much for writing a review! I will definitely go looking for it.

      As far as the food deliveries, there are so many of them now! I tried 3 different ones, each for 3-6 meals. You have choices for how many meals a week (as well as what meals), we did 2-3. Look for coupons to start… ask friends, find them on Facebook. I keep getting “come back” emails with coupons. They are not cheap, but cheaper than eating out. Each service is different … two of my friends really like Hello Fresh but I thought their meals were simplistic. I always felt I needed to add more veggies, but then there was always leftovers as well, so that made a nice lunch the next day. I preferred Blue Apron as they had foods I’d never tried, and you know I love trying new things. I actually cannot recall the third one’s name! Anyway, it was fun and I would do it again…it was nice to have all the ingredient you need to make something that tasted good. You do have to cook though, and I liked that it got me back into the kitchen. I find that chopping veggies is quite soothing. 🙂

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  8. Hi Pat! I think you have created a wonderful life (or as I tend to call it a “rightsized life”). But because I’ve come to know you as being a big planner like me, I find it so surprising that you didn’t plan how things would go once you retired. I’m not yet retired but I have so very many intentions for my future, both longterm and short term. And yes, I want to be flexible enough to allow them to change as needed, but I also find it incredibly comforting to me to know what directions to head in the future. Anyway, I think you’ve found something that works well for you and that is what makes up the very best rightsized life. Congratulations on your 5 year mark and I look forward to reading where the next 5 go!!! ~Kathy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kathy. What happened was the retirement came 2 years before it was planned for…. a bit suddenly in fact. There were very, very vague plans… so vague that when I tried to put them on paper, there was nothing to write down. Hence, I did what others told me to do – started consulting. It certainly was not a life, not even a rightsized life. It was just a continuation of working. Now, I’m looking forward to the next 5 years and trying to figure out where I might be “going” next because I too find comfort in knowing what direction I’m heading. But it was really fun to look back and see where I’ve been.

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  9. Congrats, Pat, on all your accomplishments and personal growth. I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted to enjoy my retirement. It’s been amazing so far. I’m grateful every day for the freedom and flexibility. #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Donna. I love when I provoke thinking! I actually had No Plan and the “joke” at my retirement party was how could I have no plan … yeah, once planner, always a planner!

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    1. Janice, I am certainly making changes as I go along as well. My plans are not set in stone, but I’ve learned I need a plan! I hope I’m finding a good balance of planning and flexibility, doing and being.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. By the time I retired, I was so ready not to have a plan. I wouldn’t describe myself as a workaholic but I did put in long hours. I was tired of achieving and getting results. Don’t get me wrong. Two of my strengths are responsibility and learner. I was focused on getting things done and discovering new things. But the constant pressure was exhausting. At least now I can devote all of my strengths towards the things I want to personally achieve and learn. It’s freedom and I love every minute. I could get a lot more done and we know I should focus on exercise and better eating but I’ve also given myself permission to spend my time on what gives me joy. I believe my life is full. And I’m grateful for each day. Congrats on finding your full life!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have responsibility in my strength profile as well. I have good friends who are learners, so also understand that, but it’s not in my profile. My one Learner friend gave me 10 books on Retirement when I retired … to learn about it and then teach her. I found I didn’t like most of the books… hence wrote my own book and she was one of the first ones to read it. Anyway, I had to acknowledge that I need a plan and a schedule… and stop apologizing for it. I’m a structure girl. Others can take the day as it comes (and I admire that about them!); I look at days on end without activities planned and get antsy and empty. One or 2 days a week is fine and I’ve learned to enjoy the freedom of those days.

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  11. I have looked back and have learned so much in my first 2 years. I don’t do much formal planning anymore, but love staying busy and trying new things. Congratulations on all your accomplishments, especially the book publication (which I just finished!). I too struggle with the artist within. Some creative friends have recommended The Artists Way, which I’ll read soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tracey, I’ve read 3 different versions of The Artist Way and really liked the concepts. I started with The Artists Way for Work, because I had it on my book shelf from years ago – someone had recommended it. Then I read the original The Artists Way which is much more about finding your inner artist or working though an artist block. It goes into her core methods in much more detail. Finally The Artist Way for Retirement, which has memoir as the core framework. If it truly is about your creativity, I think I’d recommend the original, but most case studies are all “career” artists. If you’re more interested in examples of retirees, then the one for Retirement. I still use some of the core tools Julia Cameron introduced me to and I think you’ll enjoy either book.

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  12. Wow, Pat! Kudos to you for all the growth and work you have experienced/put in, in your retired life so far. Yes, I do look back and review the progress I have made on my journey. It’s essential, I think. Not only must we look forward, but we must review the past with a critical eye, and learn from it. I would think most times people are gobsmacked at how much they have actually done/gone through. Great post!

    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I went from having a plan to having no plan and just enjoying the things that pop up in my life. I like not having committments and having lots of free time for walks on the beach, taking tons of pictures and contemplation.

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    1. My hubby is like you. Me… I need a plan and scheduled activities. I would put a walk on the beach on the to-do list in the morning if the weather looks good! LOL. I actually do that when we are in Florida. Ah well, everyone is different and isn’t that great!

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