Yeah, I'm Retired! What's Next?
Congratulations - you have retired from a successful career. So, what’s next? Are you thinking, what the heck will I do all day? Whoops, I should’ve planned for this?
If you are having these thoughts, you are not alone. Many of us work hard, save for retirement, but assume it will be great on its own. Why not, all the free time in the world, no more meetings, business travel, early morning alarms, and work responsibilities. Time for a little reality check, this stage of your life is no different than going to college, starting a career, getting married, etc., it takes thought and planning. Also, it can be frustrating at times. That’s right, I said it.
I’m just beginning this journey myself. I’m thinking of retirement as a new adventure or career for me. Like anything important, this takes some preparation and goal setting. Here are a few tips I used to prepare myself for retirement. I have to admit, I have no idea how this will turn out, but, I plan to share my story as it unfolds.
Reflect on your Career
To transition from 35 years of work to retirement is no easy task. So, before I leave my career in the dusk, there are many things I can learn from this experience. To do this, I asked myself some basic questions like:
What will I miss most about my career?
How do I define myself professionally?
What satisfaction do I get from work that I want to continue in retirement?
The purpose of these questions is to reflect upon your professional life and extract from it what is crucial for you to continue in retirement. For me, I will miss the mental challenges of work, my level of responsibility, business relationships, our delicious cafe, and the many efforts I led, creating new products and services for my organization. I will not miss the never-ending emails, writing performance reviews, and attending way-too-many meetings.
You do not have to leave your work life entirely behind, learn from it, and take the best parts into retirement. This will help define the ‘new you.’
Many people identify with their jobs or said another way, their job defines them. This is not a bad thing, but when you retire, this goes away. Many professionals fear they will become irrelevant in retirement. After all, they are not making decisions, managing a team, or delivering the next greatest product or business strategy.
So, to prepare for this, realize that in retirement, you still have a lot to offer, you can still add value, and there is more for you to do. For those defined by their jobs, I suggest you repeat this every morning - until you believe it.
Take a moment to think about your life ahead, be unconstrained. Here are some questions that I answered to start this process.
What makes me happy?
What is the one thing I haven’t done because of time or fear?
How can I leverage my knowledge/experience in retirement?
How will I get satisfaction in retirement?
Personally, I get a lot of satisfaction in helping others. Being in the retirement business for 35 years has given me purpose and the ability to help others save for this moment in their life. Now as I retire, starting a blog that is focused on continuing this passion in a new medium excites me and hopefully makes me relevant.
In retirement, your identity will change, but that’s not a bad thing. Make it something positive. You have the gift of time, are less constrained, have knowledge and skills from your career. Use the combination of these to define your new purpose and passion. You will be relevant!
Create a Plan
I hope by now, you have reflected on your career and realize you can be relevant in retirement. So, you may ask, what now?
Now, its time to use a familiar tool from your toolbox. No, I’m not being literal here - this is a little corporate humor. You build a plan. As I mentioned above, all key life events require planning. Even the ones that are unexpected require planning afterward.
For me, my plan started by (you guessed it), answering a few more questions to help me hone-in on what I will do in retirement. I started with some high-level questions to start the brainstorming process.
What are two things I would regret not doing in retirement?
What are the ten things I want to do before I die?
These are broad questions but will start the process of defining some key activities, goals, and desires you have in retirement. For me, this was the first time I created a list like this. I had a few things in mind that I wanted to do in retirement but answering these questions started my journey to define what I am going to do when retired.
Some things on my list are: Learning to play lead guitar, starting a business (workflowretirement.com), take French cooking lessons, and using my knowledge to help others (via volunteering).
I hope these tips are helpful for those preparing for or in retirement. Its never too late to change direction or try something new.
How do you feel about retirement (excited, nervous)? How will you spend your day? Do you have a plan?
I would love to hear from you, help you, and answer your questions. Please join our community here.
Good luck and let's #RetireHappy.