Before you begin to plan the nuts and bolts of your ideal retirement, make the life-changing decision to embrace happiness. This may not be as simple as it sounds, but it can be done. So much of how we feel is a decision. Consider the example of Abraham Lincoln.
President Lincoln said that we’re just about as happy as we make up our minds to be. That’s truly amazing when you consider that he suffered from melancholia (clinical depression) and that he had recently lost a beloved son and was responsible for steering the nation through a brutal Civil War.
If Lincoln could decide to be happy, surely we could give it a try! Here are some proven ways to raise our level of happiness.
Begin by being as good to yourself as you’d be to a friend. Most of us tend to be pretty hard on ourselves. Pay yourself first.
Think back to the times that you’ve been far more accepting and forgiving to others in your life than you were to yourself and see if you can’t cut yourself some slack. There’s nothing selfish in that.
Special gifts just for you.
Start by doing things that enrich you – your body, your mind, and your soul. Find things that nurture you and make you feel good about yourself. They can be big things – traveling to South America – or small things – learning to bake the perfect pie!
Increase your self esteem and self confidence.
Applying these gifts to your life will increase your sense of self and your self-confidence. Research echoes these suggestions. Take a look at this excerpt from Psychology Today.
“As we learn better self-care, we become better people in general. When we are in touch with our own feelings, we can then reach out more effectively to others and show love and empathy to them also.
If we are filling our own emotional tanks with self-respect and loving care, we have much more to give to our families, friends, and the world in general.”
How do you discover your authentic self by looking in the mirror? This might seem like a strange question that has little to do with life in retirement, but the answer is revealing because the look we pursue says something about us. It says, “This is the face I’m showing to the world. This is what I want to be.”
For some, it’s professional dye jobs and plastic surgery. For others, it’s the decision to stop all that stuff. I know of one coworker who said if she ever had a car accident just remember that L’Oreal # 56 was her hair color. Another friend said, “I just ignore my wrinkly neck and wear low-necked shirts.
No matter how excited you are about retiring, it represents a major change. Prior to this departure, you knew what was expected and required of you, but here you are in a whole new role. Even though it’s a wonderful role, it’s still change, and that can be daunting.
It’s even more daunting if you don’t want to retire. Before we quit working , I can remember my husband saying that he feared retirement more that death. Wow! That’s an unpleasant comparison.
In either case, retirement demands a significant change to a significant portion of your days, week and years. How will you adjust? How will you maintain your equilibrium and your balance, so that you can make this transition smooth? Take a look at this interesting article about change. Here are some additional suggestions.
Retirement is a departure from the purpose of work and also the routine of work. You already know the compensation ends. The routine that surrounds and supports your work also ends.
Find your new purpose?
When the purpose ends so does the routine that surrounds and supports your work. You know the routine that I’m talking about:
Preparing clothing for work
Planning ahead for fixing dinner. Need to stop at the store on the way home?
Buying your lunch? Fix a lunch.
If there’s family, getting them up and off to their destinations.
Gas in the car?
Setting the alarm for 1-2 hours before starting the commute.
The commute. Is it an hour each way? Less? More? Allow for traffic, weather.
To do List to clear up what wasn’t finished yesterday. Start on new projects.
Family activities after work?
Stop at the dry cleaners.
After retirement, that routine changes drastically. The drain on your time changes from all the tasks listed above to “What am I going to do today?” Sure you still need to keep up with the laundry, the meals planned and the family attended to, though they probably have their own homes by now. You have all day to deal with these items and if not today, then tomorrow works too.
Find Your New Purpose
Now is the time to shift your passions and probe your curiosity to identify your new purpose in retirement.
Purpose evolves as you pass through the many phases of your life. This may stem from passions from the past or desires at one time or another that you didn’t have time to pursue. In retirement your constraints are lessened because you may be downsizing your home, the kids are through college, the car is paid for, the weddings are over and you are into the next phase.
Now, the “job well done” may only come from inside you after retirement, but the truth of the statement still resonates. And it may resonate on a much more personal level that will have residuals that far out-distance a title and a salary.
You might be counting down the days to retirement. I know I was, but I always knew that I’d want to do some kind of work when my “career” came to an end.
You don’t have to rush into it. Take some time to bask in the joy of ignoring the alarm clock. Remember when you were a kid and the early days of June heralded the long and wonderful summer ahead? That’s how the start of retirement is. The world opens up before you with endless possibilities.
But if you decide you want to work, how do you get started? You might want to make a list of all the things you’ve been interested in doing over the years. Maybe you want to remain in the field where you’ve worked, or maybe you’d like to branch out and try something completely new.
You may be able to turn your current skill-set into a consulting job or a part-time teaching position, either on-line or in a classroom. If that’s what you want to do, then finding part time work in those field might be easier while you still have your career position and contacts. Dixie worked for several years as a marketing consultant when she retired, and I’m still teaching online. It’s wonderful to get up and work in your pajamas.
If that isn’t feasible and you want to try something you’ve never done like flower arranging or working at the golf course, then a time lapse after retirement shouldn’t hurt your choices. Go for it. It should be fun.
“According to US News, 60% of workers over sixty look for a job in retirement.”