A Guest Post by Dr. Patrice Jenkins
While standing in the checkout line at Walgreens, the title of a magazine caught my attention: The Best of Europe: 100 Must-See Destinations. I reached for the magazine and thumbed through the pages that feature beautiful locations, delicious food, and tucked away places to stay. My first thought, “I should buy this magazine and make a plan to do everything that’s featured. This magazine can be my map for the next couple years of retirement.”
Fortunately, the price of the magazine was just high enough to give me reason to pause and think: What is it about this magazine that is so appealing? Why am I drawn to the idea of having someone else provide an answer to: “What will I do all day?” I think I know why.
For the past 25 years, my life has been directed by work and family obligations. I haven’t had to decide what to do all day, its been decided for me. If you’re reading Dave Bernard’s blog, I can assume that you’re in a similar situation. Outside influences have provided structure and direction, as well as a sense of purpose.
Like it or not, this new stage of life called retirement doesn’t come with a map or a how-to guide. Our days have shifted from being directed by outside forces to inner-direction. While having so much freedom may sound great, the past 25 years have not prepared us for this task (which may explain why I was looking to a magazine for direction).
Fortunately, we don’t have to hand our futures over to a magazine editor. Instead, by creating a vision for the future, tapping into a sense of discovery, and breaking the timeframe into two-year increments, we can regain our sense of direction and look forward to a self-directed life. Here are three steps to get started:
- Create a vision for how you want to live in retirement.
A vision of how you want to live your life serves as a great roadmap in retirement. To get the creative juices flowing, look through magazines of all kinds (not just your favorite ones) and cut out pictures, images, and words that catch your attention. You don’t have to know why you’re drawn to something. If you pause, cut and paste.
Another approach is to reflect on the following questions, then write a rich description of the life you want to live.
What do I want more of in my life? Family, friends, reflective time, …
Where I want to travel and what do I want to see?
What do I want my living environment to look like?
What skills do I want to learn or further develop?
- Tap into your sense of discovery.
The magazine’s pictures of Italy reminded me of the time when my husband and I were in Rome. One evening we selected a restaurant that was listed in a tourist guidebook and then spent a couple hours looking for it, walking past by several other eateries along the way. It wasn’t so much that we needed a place to eat. What we needed was an adventure—a sense of discovery. Be sure to tap into your sense of adventure when creating your retirement roadmap.
- Two-Year Increments.
You don’t have to figure out what to do with the rest of your life. Instead, what would you like to do for the next two years? Coming up with a plan for two years is less daunting than figuring out what you want to do for the next 10, 20 or 30 years.
“Your imagination is the preview to life’s coming attractions.” Albert Einstein
Dr. Patrice Jenkins is an expert on the social-psychological side of retirement. She applies her research on thriving at work, retirement research, and happiness studies to help individuals design rewarding retirement lifestyles.