RETIREMENT NOTE #2: GHOSTS AND OPPORTUNITY
“The past can become ghosts when you move on.” T. Fields
My career was filled with accomplishments and helping other people. So why after retirement did I still feel empty regarding purpose and lost? At fault were the Ghosts from the Past. They haunted me and held me back from finding the new me. Key among those were identity, purpose and loss of social interaction. Somehow, I needed in retirement to find fulfillment again.
If you made it to the doorstep of retirement and figured out funding, you have already accomplished a lot. That plus your career are your portfolio. The accomplishments of the past need to be savored and honored, but they can also spawn Ghosts that will haunt you into retirement.
When you retire, it’s a new day. The road forward is less clear. Your earned work portfolio does not have the meaning it once did.
There are many good articles on this transition and suggested ways of dealing with it to find new fulfillment. Mentoring others, volunteering, learning new things or continue working in same field are often ways mentioned to deal with this transition.
Having tried all these things myself, I can vouch for them as valuable tools of transition. However, they can also hold you back from the last opportunity you have to become that inner person you always wanted to be.
You have to ask yourself how much responsibility do I want and will using my past skills give me the fulfillment I seek in retirement?
For instance, you may want to do volunteer work. The question is will sitting on a board (based on your past skills) give you what you want. Or will seeking a lower level volunteer position where you can work more directly with clients, gain the perspectives of others and make new social connections with other volunteers be better.
In retirement, the timelines are different. It’s not like the straight line of your younger years. Things happen. Your health might not hold up. You might not be able to achieve the skill level to be a great painter in years you have left. It may take you longer than expected to work on the new you. And there will be times you crash and burn in that pursuit.
Here are a few things I would suggestions to best move forward toward the goals of becoming a new you in retirement:
· Start when you are still employed to begin exploring the pursuits you want to follow.
· This is doubly true if you are still going to need to work. Looking and training for different work is a valuable investment. If you follow a new work line, you may feel refreshed by the newness of the endeavor.
· Keep the great communication going with your spouse on the retirement goals you have.
· Avoid as much responsibility as possible. You have had long years of goals set by others, selling what you do, going to company meetings and repeating year after year the same work. Do you really want more of the same?
· Realize that you may not ever do anything grand again and that is OK. It is the pursuit of goals such as becoming a good photographer that will give you the greatest rewards.
· Recognize its not always the big effort that wins the day. There are opportunities to help all around each of us every day. Small gestures of kindness and outreach can give much satisfaction. They don’t come with trophies or awards, except those inside.
· Move through life gently, it gives you the best chance of observing the best of life. Learn to stretch the time you have left. Slow down and enjoy.
· Take risks, learn new things and meet knew people. People different than the ones you worked with all those years. These efforts yield great insights in life and give you knew ideas.
· Lastly, forgive yourself for past missteps and falling short of career goals. There is still much to achieve and enjoy in life moving ahead.
When you retire, it will surprise you that when you meet people they might initially ask you what you did in your career. After that, they only thing they really care about is you as a person. So, you are free to become the person you really always wanted to be. Take advantage of that freedom and the opportunity it represents. I wish you a great retirement adventure.