Tag: life purpose

Retirement: This One Thing Will Make it Truly Fulfilling

Retirement: This One Thing Will Make it Truly Fulfilling

How do you manage the change from the fast-paced, highly scheduled, and task-oriented work life to what could be the opposite in retirement? What can you do to live a rewarding retirement life without the structure that guided your work life? Many retirees feel lost and even depressed as they struggle to re-orient themselves in life’s blank canvas called retirement. Here is one solution to help those feeling a little adrift.

 

Build Your Own Personal Retirement Life Plan

 

Not a financial plan, a life plan. Your own personal plan for retirement life. How? Allow me to steal some proven practices for my strategic planning days and show you how to turn your personal dreams into action. Don’t roll your eyes yet!

 

First, Start with Your Dream

 

Most of us dream about the freedom of retirement. Some want to travel, some to relax, and we all relish the day without an alarm clock. That’s a start. I’m sure there’s more. I’m talking about a personal vision. A good vision provides clarity of your direction, your life purpose and of what’s important to you. It guides you to living the life you’ve imagined.

 

Your personal vision is your compass in your life.

 

How do You Create a Personal Vision?

 

The key word is “create”. It’s a creative process in the part of the brain that is visual. Expect it to be a bit fuzzy at first, difficult to articulate with words. It may help to draw your vision. Imagine your ideal life in retirement – your personal Next3rd.

 

What is your picture of your dream life in retirement?

 

Reflect on the life you’d like to lead in retirement. Where are you? Who is with you? What leisure activities or hobbies might you enjoy? What are you learning? How are you investing in your health? How will you help others? What relationships will you nurture? How will you grow personally and be in tune with your spirituality? What’s important to you? What hints of your life’s purpose are emerging?

Jot down some ideas or draw a sketch. Leave it for a while and let your subconscious percolate. Finetune and repeat. Write it down! A paragraph or a page – whatever works for you. Write your vision as descriptively as you can so that you can ‘see’ it in your mind’s eye. It’s OK to be vague. Over time, you’ll gain more clarity. Just get started! Remember, this is personal, you don’t have to share it, but do read it regularly.

 

Stuck? Think about what excited you as a kid. That’s part of who you really are.

 

Second, Set Personal Goals to Reach your Dream

 

Yes, I sound like a strategic planner. Can’t help it. This stuff works!

While your vision may be a little fuzzy, your goals become more specific. Read your personal vision and think of timelines. Within your vision, what would you like to achieve in one year? Three years? Five years? What can you accomplish to move closer to your ideal life?

 

Write 3-5 goals per time frame. Any more and success is less likely.

 

Preferably, your goals are measurable. You can see how you are progressing and adjust along the way. My one-year goals included hiking the Inca Trail. Easy to measure – completed or not! Sometimes goals require adjusting as life surprises us. Finetune them as you need. After an injury, I adjusted my ‘active’ goals to reading and learning goals.

 

Personal goals give you something to work toward and keep you focused on what’s most important.

 

Third, Put the Pedal to the Metal

 

Time for action! Look at your one-year goals and determine what you intend to do in the next 3 months to help you reach your personal goals. I like to give my one year goal a theme to provide some focus for my activities.  It may be helpful to plan your actions at the change of each season. You are creating your own personal action plan to accomplish your goals.

 

Write 2-3 actions per goal to complete for the next 3 months/season and ‘tactics’ of how to complete them.

 

For my Inca Trail goal, I wanted to be in top physical shape and so my ‘tactic’ was to join a gym and hire a personal trainer. Check! Repeat this process of setting new intentions toward your annual goals every season. Watch how your life’s dream becomes clearer and closer to reality! You have something to look forward to in each season.

 

Seasonal action planning fires momentum toward your personal vision and brings focus and intention to your daily life!

 

Finally, Review, Reflect, Repeat!

 

Congratulations! You’ve developed your personal retirement life plan! Keep it alive and relevant by reviewing it frequently. I try to read mine every day and let it guide my weekly To Do list.  This truly helps me live an intentioned life. Reflect on your progress, goals and personal vision. What have you learned about yourself? Do you want to finetune anything?

 

As time goes on, your priorities may change, and that’s perfectly OK!

 

Repeat the process of annual goal-setting and seasonal action-planning and soon it will be a natural rhythm in your retirement life. A rhythm that gives you meaning, some structure, and direction. A fulfilling life is one where our actions and thoughts nourish and sustain our life’s dream!

 

“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis

 

Care to share?

How This Career-Focused Woman Found Purpose in Retirement

How This Career-Focused Woman Found Purpose in Retirement

She is a trailblazer figuratively and literally.  Fully engaged in her career and one of few women at the senior level of her industry, she made a choice that unknowingly changed her way of life.  How did she manage to switch from an intense, but fulfilling career to a relaxed and rewarding retirement?

 

Janet 3.0

Janet is an engineering classmate of mine.  Intelligent, driven, and, as with many women engineers of our vintage, a trailblazer in her career.  She loved her work, and as she rose through the ranks to the executive level, her career became all-consuming.  She didn’t mind.  When she declined an offer to move, her first career, Janet 1.0, ended at age 50.

Version 2 of Janet emerged six months later. She took the time to reflect, sought out the help of a career councilor, and despite several opportunities for more full-time work, decided she wanted to do something different and on her own terms.   Consulting, a dog and the beginnings of her volunteer contribution ensued.

“Don’t leap in too quickly.  Take the time to reflect about your interests and goals.”

 

Her new-found freedom and flexibility gave her opportunities to build new tribes.  She sought out volunteer organizations that aligned with her interests and offered to help.  All she knew is that she wanted to do something for the environment.  One opportunity, led to another and soon, Janet had a whole new network of interesting, engaged people.  “I went from a tribe of geeky male engineers to a tribe of geeky citizen naturalists” she says with a chuckle.

“You can’t sit at home and wait for an opportunity to come to you.  You have to make yourself available to the possible.”

 

Enter Janet 3.0.  Over time she was invited, nominated, and/or recommended to fill various volunteer roles, usually in a leadership capacity. “I have created almost full-time work for myself, just not paid.”  As she gained experience in the volunteer world, her purpose crystallized.  Janet’s mission is to protect and improve the green-space around Ottawa. She applies her skills, sometimes her own finances, engages her network and remains open to new opportunities to fulfill her purpose … with success!  “It’s very rewarding.”

“I hate the word retirement.  I see it as version 3 –  another life phase of action.”

 

Navigating the Volunteer World

Janet offers good advice when it comes to getting involved as a volunteer.  “The best place to start is with a group in an area that you are interested in”.  Offer to help. It could be as simple as manning a desk or clearing a trail. Even better, if you have skills the organization needs.  Janet could offer project management and leadership experience.  Try out the organization and give it some time. If its not quite right, try another one.  Diversify. “Have 2 or 3 irons in the fire.”

“First you are an outsider, and then you are gradually accepted into a new network of people. The more people you meet, the more useful, knowledgeable, and effective you become.”

 

Volunteer organizations are different than work, Janet reminds us. There is no hierarchy, no boss.  People are there by choice and interest and have different skills and opinions.  It requires a different way to draw upon people’s skills and passions than in the workplace. Volunteer leadership is more like people coordination. “I ended up in leadership positions in almost everything. That’s just me.”

 

Get to Know Your Councillor

If you’d like to get involved with your community, it will likely have a community association and that is a key link to your municipal Councillor. A volunteer project is likely to have better success with the support of your Councillor. A Councillor can open doors to more tribes too.

“Having your Councillor know who you are and know that you are a contributor to the community is helpful.  They can recommend you or nominate you for various organizations.”

 

Be Open

Janet’s retirement (even though she hates that term) is more than she imagined.  Her involvement with various stewardship and community organizations brought new opportunities, expanded her social circles and helped forge a new purpose. She didn’t plan to be chair of this organization or citizen rep of that, but she was open to the opportunities. She’s making a difference.

“You have to put yourself out there, be open and flexible and seize opportunities as they present themselves.”

 

Words of Wisdom

Have kind of an idea of where you want to go or be, in the sense of being.  What is your goal?  Then, open yourself up to a whole bunch of possibilities by putting yourself out there.  Everybody chooses a different way.”

Care to share?

Retirement: One Trait Needed to Live the Life You Dreamed

Retirement: One Trait Needed to Live the Life You Dreamed

There is one trait you will want to embrace that will make the difference between a listless retirement and one that fulfills you.  It’s a skill you likely practiced daily in your work career, but may have lost the opportunity to do so in retirement.  It marks the difference between the ‘old’ retirement – that of the rocking chair life, and the new retirement which is as unique as you.

 

 Lost Opportunity

At work we had the opportunity in some way to take charge of our tasks, our schedule, our day to varying degrees.  How you formulate your presentations, how you finesse your sales pitch, or how you solve the problem of the day. You find a way to apply your uniqueness in carrying out your role at work.

In retirement, we lose the opportunity, not the skill, to direct activities our way.  We may no longer have important problems to solve or people to collaborate with.  We lose the opportunity to organize how we work and what we do in a meaningful way. We may feel a little lost, inferior and directionless.

“If you take away one’s ability to make decisions, you take away their life force.”  Dr. Richard Richardson

 

You’re at Risk if…

You are used to other people planning your activities.  We all need some degree of order and organization in our lives.  Some of us let others decide for us and we follow along. Our social agenda, household budget, and leisure time are just some items that can be organized by others. We may amble through life without expressing our own uniqueness.

We run the risk of living a life designed by someone else.

 

 The Trait that Makes the Difference

 Want more from your retirement?  A good dose of ‘self-directedness’ is the cure.  Yes, that ability to map your own direction, purpose and attitudes. Self-directedness is one of the 15 retirement success factors determined by Dr. Johnson’s research, founder of Retirement Options.

Be the captain of your own ship on your journey of personal growth. 

 

Yes, that means taking charge of your retirement.  Don’t just sit back in that rocking chair and let it happen.   Get up and make the choices that fulfill you … and act on them!  It’s about designing your own, unique retirement plan and/or one that suits both you and your partner.  Reflect on how you will find a new purpose in life (learn how in this post).  What personal growth do you want to explore?  What hobbies and leisure activities peak your interest?  What will bring you life satisfaction?  It’s your life, plan it your way!

 

One Word of Caution

A little bit of flexibility goes a long way.  Let’s not be so focused on our own goals that we bull-doze over our partner’s or love ones’.  We don’t want to be that stubborn old person, who says “my way or the highway”!  Right?

Care to share?

Retirement: How to Find Purpose After Career

Retirement: How to Find Purpose After Career

Our career gave us purpose, goals, growth and tasks on which to focus.  Yet, research has shown, we still need a sense of purpose after our careers to live a rich and satisfying life.  Retirement gives us a new opportunity to discover what truly sparks our vitality, but many career-hardened boomers struggle in this endeavour.  Here is a valuable approach to discover your new purpose.  Get ready for that “aha” moment!

 


Why Purpose?

I can see some of you rolling your eyes.  I’ve had a few skeptics in my strategic planning sessions who thought discovering the organization’s core purpose was a waste of time.  Au contraire.  Knowing your true mission saves you time.  It gives you direction, helps you in decision-making and gives focus on how to spend your efforts, energy, and resources.

Do you volunteer for this or that group?  Do you invest in this or that activity?  Do you spend time with these people or those?  How do you apply your skills and talents? How do you grow? How will you spend your time?

More importantly, research has shown that your overall wellness is linked to having purpose and meaning in life. A purposeless life can lead to depression and is often expressed as “frustration, anger, a feeling of worthlessness and internal angst” explains Dr. Peter Johnson, co-flounder of Retirement Options. Working toward something that is important to you, energizes you and fires your vitality.  It gives meaning to your life.  Isn’t that the ultimate goal in our 3rd act of life, our Next3rd?

 

“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.” 

– Viktor E. Frankl

 

 

Yours to Discover

Your purpose is in there, inside you already.  It probably has been buried since childhood, covered with external demands and tasks asked of others over the years.  Now you can mine it. Let’s go digging.  It may be muddy at first, but over time and with focus, your purpose will become clearer.

 

 

The Venn Diagram Approach

Andy Stanley reminded us to reflect on ‘why we are here’ in the 2017 Leadercast “Powered by Purpose” conference. For those less into existential thinking, his simple Venn Diagram just might hit home.

 

 

“Instead of asking what am I most passionate about, ask what breaks my heart?’” 

– Andy Stanley

 

“What breaks your heart?” That’s hitting the bone. Your answer will give you insights into what you truly care about and what problems you may be inspired to help solve.  Your first seeds of your life’s purpose.

Take an inventory of your skills, talents and wisdom that you can offer.  Revisit those personality profiles you may have completed in the past for more insights. How can you apply your gifts to the problems or challenges you’ve noted above?  You may want to do something completely different than in your past career.  This is your opportunity to bring out the real authentic you.

Who were you thinking of when examining what breaks your heart? Troubled kids, the polar bears, your family?  Who can you help by applying your gifts?

 

Meaning in life often comes from serving others.

 

What is the overlap or the intersection between these spheres of what breaks your heart, your gifts and who needs your help?  What is at the centre of your Purpose Venn Diagram?  There’s your first iteration of your current life purpose!  Is that “aha” that I hear?

 

Just Do It

Congratulations.  You’ve planted a seed to your life’s purpose and meaning.  Now act on it.  It’s not the thought that counts so much as the action driven by that seed that gives you life meaning.  It’s an iterative process.  As you act to fulfill your life’s purpose, your mission and life meaning become clearer.  Enjoy the quest!

 

Purpose feeds action.  Action feeds meaning.

 

Care to share?