Key Questions on Life Domains

Building a life in retirement required me to think about things beside work. In my book Retirement Transition – An Innovative Approach (link here to Amazon purchase), I created a holistic Life Domains Framework with seven life design areas.  Building from a center of self-knowledge, I used this framework to help craft my Retirement Lifestyle Vision and create plans to achieve that vision.

Since this past month was my retirement anniversary, I felt it was a good time to review all the areas to see how things are going.  This blog post shares some of the questions I explored again in each area of the Life Domains Framework:

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  1. Career/Work
  2. Finances/Prosperity
  3. Hobby/Leisure
  4. Relationships/ Connections
  5. Health/ Wellbeing
  6. Location/Lifestyle
  7. Personal Development/Generativity

 

Career/Work

For most people, a job/career provided more that just financial compensation. The question of working or not can be revisited throughout retirement to meet a breadth of things you personally might still need. The question recently became, “what benefits that work delivered do I need in my life and am I (still) trying to replace those? Is finding a part-time job the best way to fulfill those needs?”

  • Did work help provide a Sense of Identity? Did I (still) introduce myself by saying what work I did? Did I (still) need something to build my ego, provide recognition, or provide status?
  • Did work help provide Social Affiliation & Friendship? Since most of my friends were through work or work related activities, do I still need to find additional new connections as work ones are gone?
  • Did work help provide Structure & Routine? Since I do work best with structure, do I need to work on more daily planning and goal setting?
  • Did work help provide Challenge, Accomplishment, a Sense of Utility? Have I replaced my mentally stimulating work situations/conversations and the feeling of being “needed”?
  • Do I need to provide supplemental income (to make ends meet or for lifestyle desired) or medical benefits at this point of retirement or looking forward?

Finances/Prosperity

While I never talk finances when I address retirement transition (I am nowhere near an expert in this area!), there are some basic questions to confirm.

  • Do I/we have a strong awareness of our financial plans and money matters? Do I/we have monthly budget/cash flow understanding and clarity on retirement drawdown strategy including Social Security & Medicare?
  • Do I/we have enough to satisfy our material/lifestyle needs or do I/we need supplemental retirement income or to shift our spending habits?  
  • Do we have updated wills/estate plans/POAs (especially as we are moving states!)? Is all the financial information easy to find/known by both spouses? Are the papers up to date, organized, and easy to find?

Hobby/Leisure

Leisure time in retirement can be anything you want it to be! This area is unique to each individual. I am finding this pandemic time is causing me to reconsider some of my own leisure elements.

  • What new fun stuff do I/we want to do? What’s on my life possibilities list that I can explore now?
  • Am I reaching out to friends and family for fun activities? Am I regularly engaging in play? Am I appreciating my time for solitary relaxation?
  • Have I considered: more learning (on line classes), future travel planning (bucket list destinations), creative expression outlets, different physical pursuits, different ways of social interaction, and different ways for spectator appreciation?
  • Do I have a plan to identify a place/organization/activity/cause that matches my values/strengths/interests as we move locations?

Relationships/ Connections

I’ve often said that I lost 80% of my regular connections when I stopped working. An Intentional Connections Plan early on helped me fill a lot of that void. The pandemic and our planned future move are both impacting this domain area.

  • Do I have strong supportive and positive relationships? What connections do I need to maintain, improve, build, eliminate, or replace? Do I have intentional plans in place to address those needs?
  • Am I making time for my relationship with myself? (Self-love)
  • Am I making time for my relationship with my spouse/partner? Have we talked the he/she/we plans lately? Are there things I can do to strengthen this important relationship?
  • Is any relationship taking too much time and energy, creating stress? Are there things I can do to improve/modify this relationship? Can I reach out for support here, if needed?

Health/ Wellbeing

This domain includes thinking about physical, emotional/ mental, and spiritual wellbeing. This domain is strongly interdependent with some of the other domains, but I think it’s helpful to relook at these areas and consider if new activity plans are needed for improved relaxation (meditation, prayer, spirituality exploration, sleep), nutrition (eating healthy, cooking healthy), or activity (physically fit, exercise programs, movement).

  • Do I have the right activities for my physical health? Do I have activities/habits that address daily movement, flexibility, and strength? Am I eating for nutrition and hydrating appropriately? Do I have habits that promote relaxation and good sleep hygiene?
  • Do I have the right activities for my emotional/mental health? Do I have activities/habits that address mental stimulation, stress management, and social connectivity?
  • Do I have the right activities for my spiritual health? Do I have activities/habits that address purpose, positivity, community connection, and spirituality /religious beliefs? Am I engaged in reflection and practicing mindfulness?
  • Do I/we have all the regular check-ups and appropriate diagnostic screenings/tests/shots planned? Do we have a plan to set up a new medical support structure as we move?

Location/Lifestyle

Downsize/ resize/ relocate can all be significant aspects in retirement and is often the biggest area of consideration after the to–work-or-not-to-work question! Choice of location and community can have so many other implications – closeness to others, access to work opportunities, support of health and wellness. We are planning a significant location shift this next year, so it’s a good time to rethink this domain.

  • Do I have a good articulation (vision board?) of the lifestyle I/we want to live moving forward? Do I have a plan for building personal connections and engagement in new activities?
  • Do I/we have plans in place for the actual move?

Personal Development/Generativity

This domain has always been the most difficult one for me as it is connected to purpose, legacy, and volunteering. Here are the questions I’m focusing on at the moment:

  • Am I spending my time and energy on activities that align to my core values?
  • What am I doing to improve myself at this point of my life? What am I doing to lean into believing “I am enough” and to dismiss the “compare and despair”? What else can I do to release self-limiting beliefs?
  • What am I doing in regards to legacy? How am I thinking about volunteering activities as we relocate?

 

Milestones, like an anniversary, are good moments to step back and reflect on where you’ve been and where you are going. This reflection time highlighted a few things I personally need to work on, especially in this next year as we relocate.

Have you used any similar/different framework for your retirement life design? Is there an area of questions I’ve missed?

 

Picture Credit: our summer garden

21 thoughts on “Key Questions on Life Domains

  1. The answers to these questions should provide a strong framework for building a sound retirement plan. I, too, lost most of my friends when I retired. Working in an elementary school and as a librarian, I spent my work day surrounded by mostly women (and children!!). Felt like I didn’t need to ‘hang out’ on weekends and after school because I was with my pals all day M-F. Now they are all still working and I am not.

    I am finally no longer introducing myself as a (retired) librarian. Not sure how I am introducing myself now! Haven’t been able to get out to meet anyone. Was on a mission to find/make new friends when Covid struck. My kitties seem to know me without reintroduction.

    Think I will sit down and answer these questions to get a good idea of where I am. This December will be my 7th anniversary of my retirement. I am in a much better place than I was in 2013 but still room for improvement.

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  2. Thanks Pat. These are all good questions for me to ask myself as I get ever closer to retirement. I look forward to having the freedom, but also worry some about the loss of direction and connections. Of course, with the pandemic, there has been less social connection with my coworkers, so maybe that’s been some preparation for that piece of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Christie, Interesting perspective on loss of connections during this time. I’ve never been a work-from-home person and never had to develop skills for connection because of that. I always wondered why Starbucks was packed with people working there, but now I get it a bit more. I do wonder if many folks stay with working from home (so many companies are finding it works for them), how that will shift things in the future. People need social connection. And yeah, it’s one of the things I’ve missed the most and have worked to get back in this past 2 weeks… added walk & talk with friends back to my calendar!

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  3. Just wanted to let you know that you have inspired me with your Zoom Zumba. I decided to try the Zoom Yoga offered by the Y. I enjoyed it much more than I thought. So hopefully I stay motivated to move 20+ min per day. Do you have an app that you like to use to track “healthy living”?

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    1. So glad you tried Zoom yoga! Also, you might want to check out Yoga with Adriene on Youtube; she has lots of free stuff and is really laid back in her approach.. I’m doing some “yoga for back pain” at the moment that is really helping. [I try and do yoga 3-4 times a week, and notice a difference in how my body feels when I do that.]

      I don’t use any app for tracking. If I track something, it’s still old school… pen on paper in my (not quite a bullet) journal. The only things I track are new things and books read. What do you want to track for “healthy living”?

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  4. Hi Pat. I always admire the level of thought you put into these things. I’m more of a “go with the flow” type so, although much of what you listed (relationships, finances, leisure, health, etc.) is important to me too, I don’t really put them in a formal framework. I must hang out with mostly retired – or close to being retired – folks because my answer, “I’m retired so I do lots of things” doesn’t stop conversations. We usually end up talking about our latest travel adventures (when we could do that) or what we do for fun.

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    1. Ah Janis, I am an over-thinker. It’s hard for me to ever “go with the flow”! I have noticed that in FL, where most folks I engage with are retired, it is less of a question about work and more about what you’re having fun doing. In OH, I still have more folks I engage with who are still working… it does make a difference in conversation.

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  5. Hi Pat – I always enjoy your thought provoking posts and this one comes at a time when I’m feeling a little unsettled and out of kilter. I was talking to some friends about it today – I think it’s the next stage in adjustment for me after recovering from the work “crap” and then covid’s impact. Question #7 is the key one for me atm – and I’m not sure that I have any answers – but I’m doing a lot of mulling it over in my mind and hopefully will come up with some sort of epiphany before too much more time goes by.
    #MLSTL

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    1. I don’t think you are alone in feeling unsettled. I’m finding that this Covid-19 time is making me rethink many elements of my retirement choices. i also think life is constantly changing and so it’s good to rethink choices made and decide where you might want to head next. Many folks I’ve chatted with have said that 2-4 years into retirement, they made some significant changes in direction. I’m at year 6 and thinking about it again!

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  6. Guilty – I enjoy “shocking” people by telling them I was a chemical engineer. Not too common among women of my age. So yes, I still take identity from my “career” life stage but I don’t see how that is a bad thing.

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    1. It’s not at all bad if it makes you feel positive. For me, it feels more like past and not present, so I’m still working on a better articulation to answer the “so what do you do” versus just saying “I’m retired”.

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  7. Your mentioning of will and estate plans, especially in regard to moving, caught my attention. After finally buying a home here, estate planning was one of the first things I wanted to tackle (my old will was useless since it represented my prior marriage). It’s been three years since we took care of that, and I’ve come to question some of what was included — or rather, what the attorney suggested that we include. Since the start of the pandemic, I have been re-thinking how much I want to make changes to it (beginning with finding a new lawyer). It’s important to realize that wills are not necessarily static documents; one can and should review and revise when necessary. Thanks for the reminder. – Marty

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  8. After I retired, I quickly discovered that when I told people I was retired the immediate follow up was an enquiry as to what I used to do. To say “I was a..” always made me feel some kind of has been. I quickly remedied that and for the past few years, when I meet new people and they ask what I do, I proudly respond with, “I’m an explorer on a quest to discover the secret parts of a parallel universe called Retirement.” It certainly feels like a much more positive response and steers the conversation away from the past to the future.

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  9. Great job. I really appreciate the thought of re-evaluating on the anniversary of retirement. I am a month out from my 2 year mark and am reconsidering many things. I think mostly because of CoVID but I am finding that I want (need) to revise my original plan. I also find myself to be a person who likes change and it just might be time for a change, again.

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    1. Candyse, I’m big on anniversary reviews. I’ve revised my original plan multiple times… and I don’t like change that much! Hey, I even played at being an antique dealer in there. (obviously it didn’t stick).

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    1. Kellie, I think loss of identity is one reason many find it so hard to retire. And then, when retirement coincides to am empty nest, many women struggle with “who am i?”. I still don’t have a good answer to the question, “so what do you do?”. I often answer with whatever my latest interest is!

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