Part 4 – Freedom to Choose: Last week we focused on identifying what was most important to each of us (Part 3). We discussed core values, individual beliefs, and the behaviors that ideally reflect our values and beliefs. This week we will be creating a vision for what we might want our retirement years to ‘look like.’
Choosing What We Really Want Isn’t Always Easy
Many people think they know exactly what they want after they leave their full-time careers. Often people will say they want to relax, travel, and enjoy themselves. Other people think they’ll be happy to have enough time to themselves that they can get caught up with home projects and maybe cleaning. But then what?
In reality, many of us have spent the majority of our lives responding to the demands, priorities, and structures that others have created. As a result, it is natural that many people feel a bit disconnected from what they really want.
What Will You Do with the Freedom to Choose?
No matter where you are in your journey towards ‘freedom to choose,’ now is the time you want to start visualizing how you would like to spend your days, weeks, months, and coming years. To get started, jot down your thoughts as you respond to each of the following questions:
- When do you feel your happiest or most positive? What are you doing? Give some examples of where you are when you feel your best and name other people who might be involved.
- What types of activities energize you?
- What types of activities drain you? (Think carefully about this response. If you have a partner, this is a good question to discuss. For example, if you have a partner who is energized by being around a lot of people all the time when that is the very thing that drains you, discussing ways to meet both your needs in this area will be important.)
- Are there some activities you would like to explore that you haven’t had the opportunity to do in the past? (For example, I’m using Duo Lingo to start learning some Spanish. I’m also spending more time with my grandchildren. I know other people who are planning big hikes, taking up dancing, getting involved in political causes, writing a book, and even sky diving.) What about you?
- What would a typical week look like for you when you get to choose how you want to spend your time? Will you have certain days devoted to certain kinds of tasks? What kinds of routines will you develop? How will it be different than when you were working?
- What are some ways you can cultivate and maintain a positive attitude toward aging? (As you move from career to being the boss of your own life, it will become increasingly more important to develop a positive mindset about aging. Our culture will constantly be sending subtle (and not so subtle) signals that aging is undesirable. Your ability to deal with negative messages about aging could affect how satisfied you will be after you retire.)
- What do you believe are some of the most important priorities or activities you want to focus on during your retirement years?
- Imagine you’ve reached the finish line for your life. Looking back, what kinds of things do you think will be most meaningful to you? What do you believe will really matter?
Next week we’ll talk about social connections and the kinds of connections that are most important to you.