7 Lessons I Learned In Retirement

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The retirement experience is different for everyone. There are many factors that affect what we do in retirement; health issues, age, finances, the geographical location where we live and family commitments. It has been one year since I retired from my full-time job. I want to share a few things I learned that I feel are important when preparing for retirement.

#1 Make a Life for Yourself

Make a life for yourself outside of your spouse and children ahead of retirement. Some people are fortunate and have defined interests they bring into retirement.  Others retire and realize things about themselves they never knew.  They become painters, writers, artists, builders, and entrepreneurs.

#2 Ease Into It

Some people retire and realize it isn’t for them and return to the workforce in short order. Don’t feel judged for your decisions, do what works for you and your family. Part-time work is also an option, as it can help you stay in touch with people, supplement your income and help maintain a schedule. Many retirees like the feel of every day being a weekend.

#3 What You Want To Do Might Surprise You 

Enthusiasm over finally having time to purge my belongings was short-lived.  It took months before I finally got to that project. I gave away things and had a garage sale. I am not going to lie, I didn’t enjoy doing it. It is difficult to let go of things when you come from the “I got that as a wedding present, so I must keep it until I die” generation.

#4 Make Plans Based on What Brings You Joy

Plan things that you enjoy doing. Having adventures to look forward to is important for your well-being. Take your dream vacation or curl up at home with a good book, whatever makes you feel good. I have four grandchildren and get immense joy from watching them learn and grow.

#5 Try New Things to Help You Find Your Retirement Niche

I wasn’t as ready for the rocking chair when I retired. There are many things I still want to do. I certainly don’t have all the answers. My retirement niche is still a mystery to me. I figure if I try a variety of new things, I am bound by the law of averages that one will be the right fit for me. At this stage in life, fear of not trying is worse than the fear of failing. Personal growth often creates some degree of worry about what people will think.

I feel challenged when I am in my creative space. A year ago, I didn’t know I had a creative side. I have been writing about growing up on the farm in Saskatchewan, adult life and retirement almost every day for a year. I never imagined I would write about my parents and growing up on the farm. Memories I had not thought about in years came flooding back. I felt compelled to start writing from the beginning of my life when my original intent was to start my story at retirement.

Never underestimate the healing power of creative expression.

#6 Let Go of Old Thought Patterns

Learning to appreciate people’s talents and telling them so is something I have worked on. I strive to be inspired by their success, not envious or defeated by it.

I no longer scratch the days off the calendar. I am trying to stop wishing my life away. I find I am less interested in the drama in the world around me. I don’t get the newspaper every week anymore and watch less television.

I keep my detailed to-do-list. I don’t think I will be ready to let that go anytime soon, but I am trying to be less rigid about getting things done.

#7 Re-evaluate Your Fears

When I talk to someone who is contemplating retirement, I ask them what it is about retirement that makes them the most anxious. Anxiety represents a threat of some kind, whether it is real or imagined, and those feelings need to be validated.

I had no clue what my identity was when I left my full-time job. Even when you make the decision to retire you still don’t know how to feel; set free, put out to pasture or replaced? Like anything in life, it depends on how you look at it.

It was difficult for me to make the decision to retire after thirty-seven years at the same job. I was afraid I would feel a sense of loss of friendship, my safe place, sense of belonging or be bored and lonely. Fortunately, so far, I have not struggled with those feelings.

I guess in a perfect world a person should have all their ducks in a row before they retire – financially and emotionally. The problem is, if you wait until everything is perfect you might spend your whole life waiting. Time is a gift that most of us take for granted. It moves on and things change, you can’t go back, it is never the same. Focus on the day in front of you and make the most of it.





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