This is the fifth and final column in this series in which we have been considering how to better prepare for retirement based on the book Transition to Retirement: The Uncharted Course. We have been taking a look at how things might be going once you’ve retired and experienced the Fair Winds and Clear Skies of early retirement days, then Stormy Weather when things aren’t exactly the way you’d thought they would be, thus creating a need to find a Safe Harbour to consider your life now, as a retired person including those people within your personal realm you can call your Crew. Now we get to the part where you Chart Your Own Course.
At this point you are no longer looking back but itching to get on with your future. By now you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you can and can’t do and how you’ll be interacting with others in your life. Among the things you may have also done in the first few months of retirement is experiment with various ways of living, and by now you will have a better idea of what works for you, what you like and what you need.
As well, you may, like many others, have decided that you don’t really want to be totally retired and have started looking at your options. Perhaps some teaching abroad, tutoring or involvement with organizations concerned with helping children. Or you might have found that your time is severely limited due to family responsibilities and you haven’t been able to do or achieve the things you dreamed of before you retired so that you’ve had to carve out a totally different life than expected.
Old structures imposed by your work have been replaced and you are likely living at a new pace and you will definitely have a different set of priorities. You might be deciding to do something that doesn’t necessarily include a specific job either in the form of employment or a volunteer position, but something, nevertheless that is within your value system and makes you feel happy, significant, excited or contributory.
By now your mind will be working very well within the realm of untapped possibilities, and you will talk with others who are doing all manner of different things in their retirement—the orchid grower who became world famous, the guy in the liquor store who loves being part of a 3-day work team and has a great interest in wines, the photographer who volunteers his talents to various non-profit societies, the teacher who goes overseas to third world countries to help establish schools. The possibilities are endless. And, yes, while there are limitations which perhaps include such things as aging parents, health issues, financial difficulties, you are now able to see beyond those barriers and look within yourself to find just what it is that gives you joy and satisfaction, as well as figure out how you can achieve, in some way, what you want.
As an example, if you always wanted to climb mountains but now have knee problems, consider what it is about mountain climbing that appealed to you. Was it being up high, in nature, alone, or the physical challenge of climbing? Whatever it was, think about it then find a way to achieve that feeling in another way. Perhaps bringing a sketch pad or camera to help capture the essence of the mountain or a taking a walk or gentle hike up an elevated and open but less mountainous terrain will be the answer.
At times and somewhat surprisingly, you may well find yourself back in one of the previously discussed phases. Out of the blue you can find you’re into Stormy Weather again and dissatisfied or scared about the future, so find a Safe Harbour and take time to once again ponder your life; then re-adjust and carry on. Having been through these phases before, you will recognize them and know what they are all about and how to deal with them.
Being in the age of information is just perfect for retirees. No matter what it is you want to find out about, you can do it. If something takes your fancy, look it up, find out about it and if you want to take action, just do it. You never know when something will trigger a train of enthusiasm that might develop into a whole new area of study. One person read a book about Persian carpets, did some research, and has now embarked on learning more and more about this topic and has endless hours and years ahead in which to indulge this new interest. What a gift it is to have to the time and the skills to pursue so many interests and activities. To embrace and value life at a level you never knew existed and chart your own course for this new journey on which you have embarked. Enjoy the journey!
Questions and Ponderings
- Do you spend more time planning your annual vacation than you have your retirement?
- What is your definition of a volunteer?
- What skills do you have that are not on your resume?
- Do you value activities based on the money that they bring in?
- What skills do you need to acquire to pursue your new interest, and where can you acquire them?
- How will you know that your retirement is successful and satisfactory to you?
Aids to Navigation
- Research areas of interest and find out how you can use your skills in other ways.
- Take time to consider in which direction you wish to travel.
- Don’t be influenced by the exotic sounding retirements of others; it’s your retirement that is the important one.
- Be prepared to scrap an idea if it isn’t working.
- Check it out—whatever it is—and don’t be put off by obstacles placed in your way by others.
- Keep in mind that you might want to retire from retirement.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Enise Olding and Carol Baird-Krul
Carol and Enise are the creators of a series of pre-retirement and post-retirement planning workshops: Transition to Retirement: The Uncharted Course©, Recently Retired: Charting a New Course© and Ideas … Enhanced and Advanced©, and authors of Transition to Retirement: The Uncharted Course.
This article is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s May/June 2011 issue.