Self Discovery: Will the real you please stand up?
Sensational retirements don’t just happen. They take some planning, and the place to start is with you. Take a little time to think about this and begin by asking yourself some questions to peel back the layers and find the “authentic you.”
Drill deep. It took years of experiences to add those layers and it may take some time to remove the ones you no longer want or need. Write a description of who you believe you are. Link to mind-mapping to try mapping a visual of who you are.
A simple example of mind mapping for self discovery
- Start by placing “Who Am I” in the center oval on a horizontal/landscape sheet of paper.
- Draw lines radiating from that center oval. Name these ovals wife, or mother, or daughter, teacher, writer, dancer, husband, golfer, volunteer, tennis player etc. Use as many as you need to describe you.
3.Once you have a number of larger roles that describe you, fill in labels around the center oval
- Draw lines radiating from each outer oval that more finely describe you in that role. Represent all aspects of these roles around each oval.
- Continue this exercise until you have covered all aspects of who you are.
- Reflect on what you’ve identified. Now eliminate the parts you don’t enjoy. Prioritize and highlight the parts that inspire you.
- Leave room for unknown possibilities or unrealized dreams for how you would like to be. Represent these ovals as future goals
- This simple exercise enables you to take a look at the person you believe you are and identify what part you want to strengthen and the ones you want to adopt.
There are many ways to mind map. This example is easy and paints you a visual of how you would define yourself. If you include viewpoints from family, coworkers and friends you would have additional ovals/perspectives to add to your self-description. This isn’t difficult or time consuming but provides a place to begin.
Here are a couple of ideas on your self-discovery journey to help you get started. List:
- How do you most like to spend your time?
- What are your ten favorite activities that make you the happiest?
- When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
These are activities that you do now and enjoy. Activities that make you feel happy and energized. You may not be able to spend as much time as you’d like doing them at the moment, but in retirement the sky is the limit!
When I first did this exercise, I was surprised to find that I spent very little time doing the things that actually made me the happiest. That was something that needed to change in retirement. It’s the reason you are working on your happy life plan.
When Pam was a girl of 8 she told a neighbor that she wanted to grow up and be a singer like Dinah Shore. The neighbor laughed and of course that didn’t happen. But she always loved to sing and she joined a chorus the first year of retirement. She was so happy at rehearsal she became teary eyed. A singer at last!” There are many ways to live your dreams. The first step is identifying them.
Homework for happy retirement.
Create a mind map to describe who you are and list the ten activities in your life that make you the happiest and what you wanted to be when you were a child.
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