What is it that calls out to you… that pulls at you, that lies within that yearns to get out?
It’s time to retire. Life has flown by. You’ve put in your 30-40 years at the company, raised a family, educated them, and now they are off living their own independent lives. It’s just you and the spouse at home. The idea of doing more travel, golf, lying on the beach, reading, seeing the grandchildren, and whatever else occurs to you sounds enticing. And it should be. After all … it’s your time to do whatever you desire.
What does retirement look like to you?
Like many things in our past, most of us have an outdated notion of what retirement is these days. It’s much different than what it was even 30 to 40 years ago. Many of the jobs were manual labor jobs which, after working 40 hours plus per week for 30-40 years in the mills, mines, and factories, the body was worn out and exhausted. It wasn’t uncommon at all for a person to retire and pass away within the next half dozen years while having their children take care of them.
With the onset of technology, society is increasingly becoming more of a knowledge workers society – real estate, internet, stock market investing, etc. This, along with great strides in healthcare and living standards, has allowed us to live longer lives than ever before. Today the average person can expect to live to be 80 years old or more compared to 47 years at the beginning of the 20th century, and it’s increasing by the year. Today, according to the US Census Bureau, the fastest growing age group in the country is the centenarians (100+).
For any of us to think that our time on earth is nearly over once we hit 50-70 years old is, once again, thinking in outdated ways about our longevity, particularly if we have made any attempts to keep ourselves somewhat healthy along the way.
Picking Up Where You Left Off
Without a plan, retirement may end up being a time filled with boredom and mundane activities. After all, how many golf games can you play, material goods can you accumulate, and luncheons can you attend before your soul screams “enough is enough!” Change and growth is necessary in our lives. If your not growing and challenging yourself, your brain will start to lose its edge–its ‘muscle’–from non-use. What is someone to do?
Go back to those days prior to the time you chose to join the work force, raise a family, and become whatever your business card says. Before focusing in on a career, each of us were more well-rounded in our interest, hobbies, desires, and dreams. When making our career decisions, we invariably gave up a large part of our greater selves in order to work towards and “laser in” on our goals, whether it be raising children, putting food on the table, or climbing the corporate ladder.
Now is the time to listen to your heart, revive those dreams, and set out on creating a fulfilling retirement for yourself. For many of us, this will be in stark contrast to what we have worked towards in our earlier years. Joan Konner, professor at Columbia University shares in Mark Walton’s book Boundless Potential, “We are so engaged in activities of outer value, the pursuit of financial security and social gain … that we have little validation of our inner life, our souls. We lose touch with our inner sense of being that directs us toward those things that are most meaningful in our lives.”
Return back to those days and rediscover those parts of us that we placed on the “back-burner” of life and get back in touch with them. They just may hold the key to the answers that you are looking for. Perhaps you have a love of photography, gardening, writing, teaching, or telling stories. It really doesn’t matter what your love and passion is … set off on the road to find it. It is time to go back and rediscover what you gave up.
So The Answer Is…
So what is the answer to a long fulfilling retirement? The answer is … MORE WORK!! Whether or not your past career was one you loved or not, listening to that yearning within will help guide you towards something that is of special value and meaning. Many of us are at a point in our lives where we have the time, money, wisdom and ability to use these gifts to create significant change and make a difference in people’s lives, even if just our own. Make a choice that brings you joy; something that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life.
You may work harder than you ever have in your life. You may be challenged to the point of tears. But this is all good. In the long run you will be doing yourself a great favor by challenging your brain, discovering true talents, and bringing forth those innate gifts that are yours, and yours alone, to share with the world. This is the way we can best serve ourselves, the people we love, and the world alike.
The Questions… The Solutions
How can you start on your way down this path to personal fulfillment? What is the first step to discovering this fulfilling life ?
The first, and most important step, is to bring a journal, clear your brain, center your body, find a place of solitude in the woods or along the beach–anywhere you can find some peace and quiet–and ask yourself “What Do I Want?” This will most likely be the most difficult task you’ll need to figure out. Do not expect to come up with all of the answers. This is just a start. Rehash these questions daily and ask them out loud. Get in touch with your feelings. Get in touch with your inner soul … the real you.
The universe always answers your questions. Be mindful and alert and the answers will present themselves to you. It might be a random thought in the middle of the night (so keep paper and pen on your nightstand!), an aha! moment while taking a shower, a book that catches your eye, or a stranger who crosses your path. Be alert and open to what the universe brings your way. Rest assured and know at your deepest inner level that the answers will come!
Once you have a general vision for yourself you’re on your way! The next task is to refine it … see it, feel it, smell it, and taste it. Experience yourself touching, holding and participating in your vision. Put your whole-self there. Maybe it’s playing an instrument in a local orchestra or a neighborhood gathering spot, creating a book about dog training, or traveling the world as a photographer. It doesn’t matter.
What is important is that you write this vision down in as much detail as possible. Remember, every creation is first visualized in the imagination before a hammer ever takes the first swing.