People say: “Retirement should be all about you!” What they often have in mind is a stereotype of what the “good life” should look like once you’ve said sayonara to your work life:
You’re moving to Florida, right? Or maybe Arizona?
Time to chuck that big house and buy yourself a Lock and Leave.
Have you signed up for a cruise yet?
Have you thought about a sports car or a boat?
The peer pressure can feel just as intense at this stage as it did when you were a teenager! I know plenty of people who have moved to Florida and Arizona; who’ve bought that spanking new Lock and Leave, taken a cruise or two, or acquired a cool new car or boat. For some, it was the right thing to do. Others didn’t find the happiness they hoped they would, and a few even retraced their steps and made a different choice.
I also know several renegades who wisely placed a patient finger on the pause button, to give themselves time to regroup, and in some cases, ask themselves for the very first time: What do I want for my life now?
Because many of us have considerable experience living the auto-pilot life, or one that has followed a hand-me-down script, living from a place of uncompromising intentionality feels unfamiliar and maybe even uncomfortable. But think about it: if you don’t put yourself squarely and unequivocally in the driver’s seat of your life at this point, then when will you?
I’ve given this a lot of thought and poked around to see what others who focus on retirement are saying. If your intuition or experience is telling you to press pause before diving into a prescribed retirement, consider the following approach, IN THIS ORDER:
Explore how you want to “show up” in the years ahead. We retain the ability to “reinvent” ourselves if we are open to it. Maybe you’ve been a little stingy with your time, more judgmental than you’d like to admit, or closed-minded. Maybe you decide that those ways of being don’t reflect how you want to experience yourself or how you want others to experience you. It is 100% within your power to be more of who you want to be. If you’re not sure where to start, look to your core values for guidance. Kindness, generosity, being good-humored, being a good listener, having empathy for others may fit into your evolving version of you.
Be honest with yourself about what you want your days to look like. Consult all available resources for tried and true as well as off the wall approaches to being retired. Then, adopt those that feel right and true for you. I know an Atlanta-based woman who moved to a small town in Georgia, started planting vegetables, and then planned two African safaris. Her drivers were a simple life, a love of nature, and adventure involving animals. Others say they’ve waited a lifetime to devote their free time to a cause they are committed to, and still other retirees who land on “getting myself healthy and fit, then figuring out the rest!”
Determine what you want to have in your life at this point. There is a lot of peer pressure – some of it quite smug – to toss, trash, and declutter. I get it. Most of us have far too much stuff. But again, don’t cave in just because it’s the thing to do, or because the people in your life are making you feel like a hot, cluttered mess. The things around you reflect the life you’ve lived. You get to decide what you want to; no one needs to understand because it’s not about them. Interestingly, I’ve noticed a counter movement where retirees have let go of the idea that they have to declutter so that the kids won’t have to!
So, there you have it, in sequence:
- Who do you want to be?
- How do you want to live?
- What do you want to have?
I am rooting for you!