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Marcia Smalley | July 27, 2022

“Retirement” is a hot topic.

Data shows that Baby Boomers exited their jobs in greater numbers in 2020 than in 2019 with the pandemic being a contributing factor to this exodus. Retirement is changing the face of the work force.

Our feelings about retirement are a mixed bag. Some people can’t wait to retire; others can’t imagine doing it. Some people feel retirement is a privilege; others feel it’s a well-deserved reward. Some people feel the need to come up with a different word for retirement; others don’t understand why that matters. 

Whatever our thoughts about it, we can agree that retirement is a Life Transition, a point in time where we let go of what used to be and await what comes next… and where we wander some unknown territory in between. 

And, like any life transition, retirement demands some emotional muscle building, emotional planning. If you’re embarking on a retirement journey or even thinking it might be in your future, it’s never too soon to prepare. You can start by trying these suggestions on for size…

Rely on What You Know

You’ve experienced many transitions already. You’ve navigated your way around and through a lot of change. 

Think back to a few of those changes and think back to what carried you. What qualities did you develop that helped you through uncertain times? How have they shown up in other areas of your life?

Rely on those qualities now.

Heck Yes! and No Way!

Make two lists. One list is five things you love about your life right now. Your must-haves. One list is five things that must change (even if you don’t know how to change them, exactly).

Commit to doing one thing this week to celebrate something from list #1.

Watch for opportunities to chip away at something from list #2.

Repeat as you can.

Phone a Friend

  • How do you define friendship?
  • Who are the people in your life who are there for you?
  • Who is someone you’d like to get to know better?

Answer these questions, reflect on your responses, reach out to one person and connect. When we’re faced with change, we need support.

Let Things Go

As we fly through the air with the greatest of ease, if we don’t release the trapeze bar, we can’t grab the one coming toward us. Sure, it means we free-fall for a micro-second (which can feel like eternity). But we must let go before we can move on.

Practice letting go with your closet, your garage, or your desk drawer. Release, purge, toss some of your stuff. 

Move on to other rooms, other belongings if that feels right. Have a farewell ceremony or just fill a trash bag. There’s no right way to release.

Along the way you’ll work the muscles that you’ll use when you let go of something bigger, like a job or work friends or daily office conversations.

And you’ll make space for the New. 

Dream a Little Dream

Devote some time to your imagination and let it run the show. Give your creativity a workout. Dreams are the cousins of your emotional muscles and are critical to a happy retired life… and using them is fun, too!

  • List 5 places you would love to visit. Create an itinerary for one of them.
  • You have one free afternoon and can spend it any way you wish. Write about that!
  • Plan 5 acts of kindness and carry one of them out this week.
  • Make a vision board that depicts your wishes and hopes for your retirement.

If you can’t dream it, it will never happen.

There are several ways to prepare for retirement that have little to do with financial planning but everything to do with building emotional strength.

You can prepare in advance, and you’ll probably prepare again along the path. The important thing to remember is that, whatever steps you take, it’s okay if they’re small. In fact, small steps are best.

Those small steps become the building blocks for a fulfilling retirement… whatever you choose to call it.

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