Refining the Vision – a Series of Transitions

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. 

19 thoughts on “Refining the Vision – a Series of Transitions

  1. Congratulations on getting your home under contract so quickly, Pat. And thanks for sharing some of the things that you’ve tried in retirement that didn’t quite pan out how you had expected. Too often, we look at things that don’t stick as failures when in fact they are experiences that can be enjoyed, teach us lessons, and point us in other directions that fit us better. I’m not retired yet, but I’ve had several such experiences in my lifetime.

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    1. Christie, It was hard for me to not view them as failures. I tend to be a person who commits and sticks (32 years working at one company, married 28 years), so doing something for only a few years and then saying, “it’s not working, stop” is hard. I think this upcoming transition is allowing me to see the things I tried as simply points on the journey.

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  2. Wow, that’s amazing about all the offers on your home. Good luck with finalizing all of that! Interesting thoughts about retirement plans that didn’t pan out as expected. For me it was some early decisions on health insurance that were mistakes (thankfully not fatal), but I was glad to have fixed them. – Marty

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    1. Marty, The housing market here is out-of-control again. Lucky for me as a seller … not good for the buyers. We still have the next few steps to finalize – inspection, appraisal, and loan approval. I’m a bit worried about appraisal…. the lead contract was $30000 over asking price. (that is not a typo). See, out of control! But then, final packing and more daunting, unpacking. Will everything we move fit? NO! But that’ll be another blog post I am sure.

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    2. Marty, It was interesting looking back and seeing all the things that really didn’t pan out. I had to learn it was OK to try things and be OK with them not working and not viewing it as a mistake. Not an easy task for me as a perfectionist!

      The housing market here is insane. I’m sure it will crash in a few months, but It was nice to be on the selling end of things this time.

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  3. Very reflective post. It seems you’ve been very busy for a retiree. Congratulations on the quick sale of your home (always helpful) and good luck with the full time move to Florida. I bet some new, good things shake loose for you once fully settled.

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    1. Thanks Tracey. I am looking forward to a “new beginning” in a way – post pandemic, post move, a new lifestyle. And it’s funny, but I don’t feel like I’ve been busy!

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  4. Hi Pat! What a great example of retirement transitions. There is so much truth to this because it shows in a very clear example why it is to necessary to stay flexible and resilient in retirement (and any age actually.) Things change, we change. It’s best to make our plans knowing that they will likely change but at least we have our intentions to guide us no matter what. Thanks for sharing this! ~Kathy

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    1. I read your blog after this posted… or I would have stolen your quote about “nothing is written in stone”! Sometimes it shocks me how in sync bloggers are in their thinking/writing.

      I was chatting with a soon-to-be-retired acquaintance and really wanted her to understand that everything she attempts will not necessarily “work out” but that’s OK. She see’s the highlight reels of others, not the “bloopers” or out-takes! This post was my out-take reel.

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  5. This was a very positive post! Glad you are more accepting that trying and rejecting is a good thing. Hmm, I’m a few years behind you on the snowbirding thing soooo wondering how much longer before we decide trying to have 2 lives isn’t working?? Zoom has allowed the 2 lives to work over the past year but suspect that those relationships will be stressed when we switch back to in person gatherings and I’m no longer “in person”.

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    1. Lots of people manage the 2 lives well. I found it unsettling. And since stability is important to me, feeling unsettled isn’t good! Zoom allowed me to realize I have an avenue to keep in touch with friends in Ohio. I also knew I like myself better in Florida (that’s been true for awhile). And hubby certainly likes his lifestyle there MUCH more! So it was Florida full-time for us. Good luck with your decision.

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  6. Yay to selling your house!!! You are definitely one that gets things done!!!!! I am so jealous of your moving to Florida!
    I feel like your retirement has truly been a serious transition, with you trying many things to see what really works for you! You tried different was of living (the snowbird thing), you tried different styles of still working, you tried different philanthropic endeavors, and you tried many, many activities and you found what will work for you. Seems pretty dang perfect!
    I thought I had everything set up, what with my dancing and Orange Theory, and chairs of gala boards and of a non-profit board, but you know, I found that as I began to enjoy my nonworking segment of my life I didn’t want to be in charge anymore. So, I have given up my gala chairs (sad to say that Covid made that easy). I also gave up Orange Theory due to Covid but hope to pick that one back up soon. And still love my dancing.
    At first, I felt bad thatI was’t “doing anything productive” or “giving back to society” but I have gotten over those feelings, I was productive enough and I gave enough. I deserve to enjoy this part of my life.
    We deserve to enjoy this part of our life! Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Candyse, I need to keep reminding myself of that…I deserve to enjoy life. I keep reminding myself that when I was working, I had no “life” (no exercise program, no wine and dines, no fun explorations). So it’s OK that now I have “no work”. That’s gonna be my version of work/life balance… 32 years of work and now 32 years of life! Hah.

      i wanted folks to see that things do change as you “move through” retirement, pandemic or not. So, dropping the gala chairs – not surprised as you were leaning there even pre-pandemic! I’m super glad though you’ll be able to get back to the parts of dance you love. So, is there a big competition in Tampa?

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  7. Have you written earlier about your experience of being a caretaker/guardian of your SIL? I would appreciate reading about it if you can give me the link.

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    1. Susan, No I have not written about that aspect of our lives. I did a post early on about “Living with Aspergers”, but that was about my hubby. My SIL is low-mid level autistic; hubby is high functioning on the spectrum. Yes, both on the spectrum, and no, it was not a good thing in a single household. If you have specific caregiving/guardian questions, we can definitely “chat” off-blog – let me know.

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  8. Hi Pat – well done on the offers on the house – what a relief that must be! Having a quick and smooth sale seems to be something the pandemic has brought with it (lots of people buying houses) so it’s nice that there’s a positive.
    It was interesting to read what you tried and discarded. I thought I’d find another part-time job when I quit the last one, but after looking at and discarding several job advertisements (and then riding out the covid shut down) I discovered that I really don’t want to return to the workforce – life is lovely and working isn’t my “thing” anymore. All praise to those who want to work til they’re 70 – I’m just not one of them. New friendships are tricky to form, but I find maintaining a few close connections is all I can manage these days – I don’t have the emotional energy to go thru all that creating friends entails.
    Good luck with the move and yes, keep us posted and I’m glad you’re finding a clear path to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leanne, I was chatting with a friend this weekend and he mentioned he just “signed on” for another 5 years. He can’t imagine life not working! I have to not do a Compare & Despair and think I’m less because I’m choosing not to work! It’s hard when I’ve been programmed for years to be productive, work hard, etc.

      Yes, to quick sale… now to smooth part. In the US, there are 3 more hurdles – a house inspection (needs to “pass”), an appraisal (needs to “equal offer”), and a buyer loan approval. And I still have a lot of things to get rid of…. hubby has been amazing with willingness to get rid of some things! We are still moving too much, but less than I thought.

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