What Stuck and What Didn’t

A number of folks I know are in the process of starting their retirement transition. (The pandemic seems to have pushed a number of people to say, “That’s enough of full time working.”) And a few have commented that they are not sure what to engage in next. I understand that feeling as I myself retired with no retirement living plan at all! (Financial plan, yes. Living plan, no.)

What I’d like to focus on today is a review of “what stuck and what didn’t”, as I tried a number of new things in my retirement. And more importantly to point out – more things didn’t stick than did! My message being – don’t be afraid to try things out. Many things can be tried without long-term commitment. Explore your interests; try out things on your possibilities list. It’s perfectly fine if something does not click and stick!

Looking back over almost 8 years of retirement living now (where did the time fly to?), here’s a recap of some things that didn’t really stick. A few of the big ones:
– Figuring out where to live – we got it wrong at first. After downsizing up north and trying the snowbird approach for a couple of years, I realized that living in two places left me feeling ungrounded in both. So we made the Big Move to Florida. Yes, we bought two houses and sold three in less than 5 years. (But now, we are in one that I love.)
– Forming & maintaining an LLC was waste of time and money. This was something I did because so many people told me it what I “should do”. Learning to not listen to the “you should” comments is a work in progress!
– Certification as a retirement life coach. I enjoyed learning everything in the courses I took, but realized I’m not a very good coach! I applied things I learned primarily to myself, and talked about them in various ways in my blog and book. But, I’ve only coached a few folks (friends!) pro-bono.
– Consulting work. It went strong for about 2 years, and I enjoyed some of the projects. But post-cancer, I just couldn’t get back into the networking that consulting required. Also started to feel ‘out of the loop’ in expertise and not wanting to push for new learning in the area. It took a long time to give up this element of my identity and I still feel a twinge of Compare & Despair when others talk about their consulting projects.

Other hobby exploration things didn’t stick – calligraphy, origami, pottery, belly dancing, Orange Theory Fitness, meditation (although I will probably try that one again).

Then there were the things that the move (and the pandemic) disrupted and I’m still looking to reengage in FL – engaging in a women’s collective philanthropic, being active in a women’s club (OH was theater, FL looks like it’ll be gardening), and having a foodie couples group (still a WIP in FL).

You might ask, “What did stick?” Here are some things on that list: yoga, Zumba, daily journaling, blog writing, book club, daily crossword, learning spaces (mostly in psychology space – from positive psychology and the science of well being to enneagram and now into a re-emerging feminine consciousness). I’ve learned to enjoy the dabbling – in craft stuff, in Tarot and moon phases, in cooking. And I’ve embraced being the designated planner for my Fun Tribe circle.

Retirement life is a series of transitions. It is fine to try things out or even to do things for a while and then change it up. It’s all about figuring out what is right for your retirement lifestyle – based on your values and your interests.

For more on retirement transition insights into designing your own retirement lifestyle, check out my book… still available on Amazon (link here)

Picture Credit: my dabbling in crafts this week.

18 thoughts on “What Stuck and What Didn’t

  1. Journalling is the bomb. It’s the rare time in my day when I actually sit down and listen to my own thoughts. I should re-start my meditation practice too. Thanks for the reminder, and this share!

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  2. I can see some things here that I am nodding my head along with you. Removing the shoulds of retirement has been a good plan for me. I also have had to change my approach to both my ageing in a physical capacity and my old style of getting stuck into projects. I got a bit of wake up call late last year when overload (in retirement) struck. I have let things go that were not helping me and found it hard at first but am learning to value my health overall and my important relationships…with myself and my husband!! Thank you for sharing your blog post with the community at Denyse Whelan Blogs. The link up, each fortnight, called Life’s Stories, continues with bloggers such as you linking up and connecting! The next time to do so is Monday 9 May. Warmest wishes, Denyse.

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    1. Denyse, I actually worry about over-load right now as I explore a few different opportunities in this new area. It is something I am keeping an eye on! I’m not there yet and I am hoping to enjoy things and not get sucked into anything I really don’t want to do. Being involved in clubs is a whole new thing for me – and now, being asked to be on committees in the clubs. Trying to understand how much time and energy these things will take – we shall see this upcoming year!

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  3. At 88, I still don’t consider myself retired, so everything I’ve loved (writing, volunteering, working for causes I believe in, reading, walking, hanging with friends) still sticks. Maybe it’s worth looking at what brings joy and just sticking with that. Thanks for this good post.

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    1. Fran, I’m learning to not listen to everyone else telling me what I “should do” – some of the things I tried were all about that! But I also am learning more about myself and what actually does bring me joy – those are the things that stick. I’m willing to try things on to decide if that’s the case…. and that’s good right now as we are in a new place, with new opportunities. I’ve tried some new things that look like they might stick… but others are already being put to the side as they did not bring me any joy, even after the discomfort of trying new things was gone.

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  4. Such good advice, Pat. It’s a process, to be sure. One that takes a lifetime to figure out, but then, that’s part of the fun. Your book looks so interesting. I’m going to try it on my Kindle. Thanks.

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    1. Kate, thanks for looking for the book! Many of the topics are in my earliest blogs, but the book helps you walk through a design thinking process to “design your retirement lifestyle”. Do reach out if you have any questions!

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    1. Lisa – I’ve had a few friends starting retirement thinking that they need to know exactly what they going to do forever! Right now, with our move, I’m doing lots of trying new things again – hopefully some will stick, but it’s OK if they don’t too.

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  5. Hi Pat, I like Leanne’s word ‘reinventing’, as that is exactly what we do throughout our retirement years. It’s like shopping for new clothes. We try a lot of things on, keep a few items and discard the rest for various reasons. Going through the process regularly keeps the closet fresh and relevant.

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    1. Suzanne, I liked the term reinvent as well. And the “try-on” analogy totally works for me as well. At the moment I am definitely trying-on some new things as we learn about living in this new place. Some will stick I am sure, but it’s OK of they all don’t!

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  6. You’re right Pat, retirement is a series of transitions and we just have to take each new turn in our stride! I like that many things have stuck for you and you’ve been honest in what hasn’t clicked too. I did wonder what a LLC was, maybe it’s some sort of pension arrangement over there?

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    1. Deb, An LLC is a small-business designation in the USA – it stands for Limited Liability Company. Mine was a consulting company; it was definitely the thing I was told I “should do” when I retired early. You pay the government to maintain a small business and many people who hire consultants want you to be part of a company. Of course, it took me years to realize it was a “should” that didn’t really fit. I’m exploring new things now to see what might fit as we continue to learn about living in this new area.

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  7. Hi Pat – it’s interesting what sticks and what doesn’t isn’t it? I love that retirement gives us the time and freedom to try out a range of activities to decide what we like and what doesn’t really turn out to be what we expected. I’ve had a spanner thrown into the works with a major hip problem surfacing – it’s meant removing most physical ‘exercise’ activities from my life for now – and that opened a lot of extra time in my week – hence the pleasure of finding a new little job that I blogged about last week. I think retirement is a series of re-inventions as we go along so we don’t become stagnant.

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    1. Leanne, I like the idea of re-inventions. I know for sure I didn’t see where we are now when I looked ahead as I retired. And I’m guessing, a couple of months ago you didn’t see the new little job in your future either! My intent for writing this blog was to share that we all need to “try-on” opportunities when they present themselves… and keep the things that “fit”! I hope your new job does “fit” for you!

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  8. Oh so many of my friends and acquaintances tried to make their retirement ‘just right’. All I can say is they tried too hard – “we’re going to do this that and the other” was all they talked about…and ended up being dissatisfied/disappointed with the results of the ‘this is what retirees should do’ plans.

    Maybe I/we were different to others and just went with the flow. It’s just as you wrote “Retirement life is a series of transitions”…..I tried to tell them there’s no right or wrong way…it’s just a different way of living to the way you lived before a certain date.
    Great post to read and think about
    Take care
    Cathy #lifestories

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    1. Cathy, Learning what we actually want and not what we think we “should want” is a huge learning curve for many of us. We’ve spent most of our lives comparing ourselves to others, meeting expectations, doing the “right thing” to please others. My husband is a “go with the flow” kinda guy, so I know many don’t have to learn this, but I certainly did! I think I write more for folks like me – the ones’ who need to learn that there’s not a right retirement lifestyle, there’s only your retirement lifestyle!

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