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.
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.
If you read Dixie’s last blog about volunteering, you’re probably full of ideas. One of the best ways to fulfill your desire to volunteer in retirement is to mentor a young person. You’d be surprised at the number of younger people who would benefit from your insights and your attention.
You might be able to mentor even before you retire. You’ve probably noticed in your workplace that there are fresh employees who seem a little like “deer in the headlights” when they first join your employer.
Instead of being a spectator to their discomfort and floundering, make yourself available as a “big brother or sister,” a mentor to gently relay information that will make their transition into the seduction of work a little easier.
Mentors Make a Difference
A good friend of mine, recently retired, became involved in her church women’s group. She had reached the pinnacle of her career by working hard and then working harder and harder still. The big recognition reward in her company in addition to salary was earning the coveted pink Cadillac. She notched 11 of them on her company belt while taking care of her husband and two children.
After retirement she attended a Bible study for herself which allowed her, in retrospect, to examine her life, to look closely at herself and to begin to understand “Sisterhood.” The “volunteer gig” part of her church relationship in retirement was to spend her time in the “Mom’s Session” with the young mothers to partner with them and validate the importance of the time they were spending with their children while sometimes yearning for the postponed professional life.
My friend’s greatest contribution to these young moms was to remind them how valuable was this time spent with their children and to remind them that this too would pass. There was ample time left for them to meet their career goals.
Say yes invites you to do new things for the whole first year of retirement. You can pare down and be selective after that.
Before retirement, our lives are pretty much consumed by the time on the job and the ancillary time required to get to and from the job, prepare meals, oversee the household responsibilities and carve a little time for immediate friends and family.
In today’s rapid-paced fast lane, most opportunities not directly related to “the career” are categorized as “back burner.” Sometimes that burner never gets revisited while the front burner gets “burned out.”
Now you have the luxury of time. If you plan thoughtfully, you will have the absence of “hurry.” That formula should result in life fulfillment and self-actualization. You can try on different shoes to see what’s the most comfortable fit for this new phase of your life.
Your neighbors, friends, and family are used to having you available for snatches of time before or after work. They have been conditioned to respect your constraints and not bother you for what may be trivial. They have a routine in their lives that hasn’t included you, their too-busy friend. Host a little “getting to know you” brunch at your home to get reacquainted. It would be fun!
The good news is that you are available now! Go to an unhurried lunch. Take a relaxed shopping trip. Play a round of golf. Attend a class. The list is endless. This is the time to reach out to friends and neighbors and let them know that you would like to be included. Continue reading Retirement 2: Say Yes the First Year of Retirement
Okay, so you have this precious new gift. 40-60 hours a week that you haven’t had for the past several years. How will you fulfill your life?… not your work life, your retired life? How will you use these 60- minute gifts?
Take a couple of “vacation weeks” and decide. If you want to sleep for two weeks, do it. If you want to lay on the beach with your toes in the sand, do it. These hours are YOURS!
After decompression from a workweek filled up by others, decide how to arrange this next very important phase of your life? Your expanded life. Your freed-up life!