It’s amazing to me to realize that I’ve been retired now for almost 7 years. As I look back, I can see how I’ve implemented my retirement transition process including the important step of REFINE. (Link here for more on the process. Or see my book available on Amazon!) With each refinement resulted in my retirement life being a series of transitions, and we are embarking on a new big one next month!
I was chatting with a soon-to-be-retired friend this week about retirement transition and our conversation sparked in me a realization of all the things I tried that didn’t work out! I think it’s important for folks working through their own retirement transition to hear about those experiences as well. I’m not calling them “failures” – I think it’s important to “try things on” and then refine your retirement lifestyle vision as you experience what’s working for you and what’s not.
- Our original retirement life vision had us splitting time between Ohio and Florida. We downsized in Ohio to be able to manage this better. But, I found the back and forth unsettling. The partial time here/there did not lend itself to having season tickets to the theater (one of my love-to-do things!). We found that we were never “top of mind” with other folks planning things as we were often “getting ready to head north/south”. I like stability and being able to plan things. We had some health scares making us more aware of possible limited time and Hubby really, really wants to live in Florida. So our downsized-10-year-Ohio house is going on the market (at 4 years and a probable money loss) and we are becoming full time Floridians. A big transition in vision.
- My original retirement lifestyle vision had me continuing to work part time. I felt it was an expectation since I retired early. Either consult or start a second career or join a board of directors. Do something productive; something worthwhile! I tried being a (paid) consultant (formed an LLC, signed on with multiple consulting firms). And I became a certified retirement life coach. I even wrote a book for the life coach “success path” (a definite requirement). While I enjoyed the projects I worked and the people I coached, I found I was just as satisfied with life when neither “job” was occurring. So I’ve dissolved the LLC and dropped most of the life coach connections. Another big transition in vision.
- We finally transitioned out of being guardian/caregiver to my mentally challenged SIL. This was always part of our retirement lifestyle vision and we went through a long process (much longer than expected) to make it happen. After being guardian/caregiver for 20 years, it’s a huge emotional/mental shift for both hubby and me, one we are still getting used to. But, it allows us to make this next big transition because in Ohio guardians need to be residents of the state.
- I joined a couple of philanthropic groups, hoping to form some new friendships. I’ve mentioned a number of times that when I retired I lost 80% of my connections. The daily conversations that stimulated my thinking, validated my actions, or just inspired me were gone and I needed to replace them. Both philanthropic groups were female focused and claimed to provide opportunity for friendship creation. After 2 years in both, neither did – I enjoyed the group’s activities, but no friendships formed for me. I will look ahead for other philanthropic groups after our move, but not with the hope for friendship creation.
- Friendship creation was a big part of my retirement transition and I put a lot of effort into this activity. As I looked back, I realized how many things I did with that intention and how many of those things failed to result in friendship creation! Beyond the philanthropic groups I mentioned, I tried taking various classes (IRL, pre pandemic), joining/creating clubs, and reaching out to old acquaintances. While I enjoyed all the experiences, few resulted in connections that lasted. Looking back, only about 20% met that goal; I do have a few folks now in my inner-circle that were not there when I retired. And yes, I will be missing them severely but hope to stay in touch – we all know how to Zoom these days!
There were other things that happened which caused me to refine our retirement lifestyle vision. The aftermath of our trip of a lifetime (3 weeks on an African Safari resulted in hubby landing in the hospital on return) made me question how much more travel will we do in retirement. Dealing with breast cancer (I’m doing great) and family members passing away (two siblings!) gave me a huge life-span wake-up call. And then a global pandemic opened up time for new learning spaces and shifting my homebody lifestyle awareness.
I’ve come to realize that the activities I tried on that didn’t work were still the “right things to do”. Even though I decided to not continue some things or they didn’t work out as I expected, I enjoyed them or I learned more about myself along they way. I’ve learned I have too high expectations, I still think there is a right way to do things, and most importantly, it’s OK to shift your vision.
As we move through this new transition, I am confident the retirement transition tools I’ve used along the way will come into play – creating a new vision board, driving clarity on my domain focus areas (intentional connections is one again!), action plans to try-on new things, and continuing to Refine our retirement lifestyle vision. But I’m also aware that not everything I try-on will work (or meet my expectations) and that’s OK!
How do you feel about retirement activities you tried that didn’t work out?
Picture Credit: Me. During the Zoo-Blooms walk & talk that inspired this post.
P.S. In case you’re following the Big Move in real time, we have a contract to sell the house (36 hours on the market, multiple offers – whew!) and movers booked.