A new blogger recently contacted me with a question about Word Press “how to’s” and a more cerebral comment about retirement and her “what’s next” dilemma.
I’m the “blind leading the blind” on WordPress processes. I recommended she pose her question to the support/help forum where I’ve had good response to my own questions.
I hope I can give her more insight into her “what’s next” dilemma.
I’ve been where she is: leaving her career at its peak, not wanting to call it retirement, not sure what’s next and wondering how others figure it out (and make it seem so easy). It sounds like she’s enthusiastic about specific ideas for her future, but she expressed some anxiety and admitted her motivations are somewhat driven by her need for approval. She wrote she wants to find a calmer method of planning and, perhaps, seeks reassurance that her ideas will lead to fulfillment.
Here’s my perspective:
Explore all your ideas. Feel scattered. Make mistakes. Change direction. Start again. And again.
Even if it takes several years, that’s what transitions are.
Most importantly, seek what feeds your soul with the knowledge that even the “what feeds” evolves as we, and our external influences, change.
We are each unique in our needs, motivations, and ability to adapt to changes. What works for me won’t work for any of you. The main objective is to understand and embrace your authentic self. If that takes awhile to accomplish, what have you got to lose by trying?
When I first retired, I often found myself saying, “I’m retired, but I used to be a …” as if my career was the only interesting thing about me.
I also – being a Midwestern child raised to be productive or feel guilty when you’re not – wrestled with how others, or I, would judge me if I wasn’t significantly engaged in “saving the world” after leaving my career.
I loved my career (accounting, finance, venture capital), and I served my fair share of stints on non-profit boards, neighborhood task forces and fundraising activities. While it was all worthwhile and stimulating, I also paid a price in stress-related health complications .
While I was ill, I read a book titled Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin. The book is about the trade-offs between making money and having time for living; how to recognize and choose the balance that works for you. It was the only instance when I’ve seen the message that valuing and nurturing your relationship with your partner/spouse is just as much a legacy as the money or accomplishments you achieve.
The principles in that book have guided me in retirement as well. Now I make my mark and spend my “obligatory energies” in smaller ways. I provide long distance care to my 88-year-old parents and mother-in-law; I help raise my grandchildren; I actively participate in my relationship with my husband. I choose small, manageable activities to give of myself to my community and our deployed troops.
We move beyond careers and live our later years in varying ways. Some travel extensively; some develop new careers; some give tirelessly to a cause they love; and some choose less expansive, but no less meaningful, pursuits.
My wish for each of you is to give yourself permission to find what fits you and wholeheartedly do that.