Thursday, September 1, 2016

Transitions to retirement

Here are some ideas to make the transition to retirement easier. When I first thought about retiring, it was an easy decision; I made the decision to retire, so I did. I did very little thinking and very little planning about what my life would be like once I retired.

Everyone is different, but dreams are important to the process and discussing your goals and ideas about what your life will be like should be discussed with family, but there are stages to your retirement, which I have discussed before.

The first is called by many names, the GO GO Stage, the Honeymoon Phase, Active Retirement the Accumulation Stage, the Kicking forward stage a Transitional phase or just Phase One. 

Adjust your intensity to fit your new lifestyle. Now that you are retiring, you are free from any stressful job, you are free to set your own schedule. What I found out about in my first ten years of retirement was that I continued to be active. For many of us the first few years are the most active phase of retirement The only deadlines you face are those you set.

Your transition can be easier if you concentrate on the journey rather than the individual steps. It took me time to realize there is no hurry. Not everything must get done on a schedule.

Give yourself time and space to get there. Don’t be in a hurry to get somewhere you have never been before. Remember as you start your transition you are moving from a time of stress to a time without stress (unless it is self imposed). The transition if not planned can be stressful. For me this stage has been hectic and at times stressful. I realize now that if I had taken the time, prior to retirement, I would have tried to put down some goals and I might have even created a mission statement for my retirement.

I would recommend that you do this, as it will make the first phase less stressful. You have energy, skills, expertise, and enthusiasm that are valuable, and so figure out how you want to apply your gifts to your goals. Figure out what do you want to do with the time and energy you have available.
Remember, there are only deadlines that you impose on yourself. The good news is that if you impose a deadline you can remove it. However, this means that you have to realize you answer to no one other than yourself. Don’t pile on unnecessary pressure to immediately achieve. If what you do is pleasing to you it is worthwhile. Cut yourself some slack – you have earned it.

Channel efforts toward what you can control. No one can entirely control what life might throw our way. That does not mean we cannot influence our future. For example, after retiring, I thought that my mental ability and those of my friends might suffer, or our physical ability might decline. These things happened. but over time and we all have all noticed a decline in at least our physical level. I write this blog to keep my mind active. Two of my friends suffered from Alzheimer's and one of them died two years ago; I had a hip and knee replaced which slowed down my physical activity.

Retirement is the right time to focus on what is good for you. For eight of the ten years I continued to volunteer as a way to keep me busy. You have to find something that gives you joy and take time for you. You finally have time to figure out an exercise regimen that you can stick with for your good health. You have time to work on that diet to make you fit not fat. You have time to explore the multitude of activities to engage your mind and heart and passion. Rather than focus on what you cannot do try to imagine what you can – and go for it.

Remember you are entering the first phase of retirement and you may have over twenty to fifty years left. So with decades of retirement life ahead, one is not going to make it. Variety is the spice of life even more so in retirement. The more options you have to entertain and engage you the less likely you are to become bored. Rather than bored we hope to find ourselves excited about what the new day has to offer. Don’t be afraid to try something – anything – to stir things up. What do you have to lose?

Travel is one of the things that I have done, every year since I retired, as have my friends. Travelling is a major activity, which for some of my friends has included adventure travel to exotic locations. Travelling may be part of this first phase for you and should be seen as a chance to grow your mind. Also, this is a phase when you can exercise and participate in sports at a much greater intensity level than prior to retirement.

I now play golf, while my brother focuses on his tennis daily, while other of my friends prefer scenic hiking and walking. Retirement so far for me has been a blend of travelling, working, volunteering and enjoying life and new freedom from work. I have found time to write reflect, re-evaluate, and assess my life. 

I also have taken time to rest, relax and to re-think about what life and liberty mean to me. In the last ten years, I believe that I have accomplished many things without the strain of outside work pressures but it took me a long time to realize that I was my own boss (except for my wife:-) and that I did not have to answer to anyone except myself and my wife.

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