Part 2: How Will You Use the Gift of Time?
Last week (Part 1), we talked about the fact that people 50+ could have literally decades of living yet to do. We have the opportunity to look ahead and do things of our own choosing – things that really matter to us.
We also talked about the fact that our ‘gift of time’ does have an expiration date. We cannot just let it sit unwrapped on a shelf – we need to open it and use it. By identifying what matters to us and the lifestyle choices we are currently making, we can be more prepared to live our best lives now and in the future.
This week, we are going to talk specifically about the concerns we have after we either burn-out on the job or completely retire. If you are still in the workplace and are in your 50s and beyond, the earlier you start working on planning for the biggest adventure of your life, the better off you will be in the future. If you’ve already left the workplace, this exercise can be useful to do some recalibrating if desired.
Do You Have Any Concerns About What Life Will Be Like After You Leave the Workplace?
Many of us get pretty eager to leave work once we get close to retirement age. However, before walking out of the door for the last time, it’s helpful to think about some of the concerns many people have as they either contemplate ‘retirement’ or they start experiencing what it is like to no longer be working.
As a way to start thinking about some common concerns people have about leaving work behind, identify any of the following areas that you are either concerned about or uncertain about:
___Outliving my money
___Outliving my memory
___Losing a loved one
___Losing my work identity
___Staying connected with friends and people from work
___Figuring out how I want to use my time (day-to-day and long term)
___ Finding a new purpose or meaning for my life
___Feeling trapped because of others’ expectations or demands on my time
___Changes in my appearance or decline of my physical abilities related to age
I started working through these concerns long before I ended my teaching career. For me, the area that concerned me most was finding a new purpose or meaning for my life—teaching had given me a strong sense of purpose and meaning. Once I started reflecting, it became obvious to me that I would be researching and sharing information with others about positive aging and ageism. What I am currently doing is important to me. It is also something that I choose to do at this point in my life.
Reflection Questions: Use a Journal to Respond
- What about you? Did you find any areas that you have concerned about for the past few months or more? Jot some of your thoughts down in your journal.
- What experiences have you had or information have you read (or heard about) that might contribute to your feelings of concern in any area? Is there anything that you’ve experienced, heard or read that contradicts these concerns?
- What are some possible ways to plan for or address any concerns that you might have?
As an example, I did a lot of reflective journaling to realize what would contribute to my sense of purpose. I also used visual images (I created a visual journal) and looked for role models of older women that I admired. I also created an inventory of experiences and skills that I valued.
Allow yourself sufficient time to reflect on the questions above. You may want to write some initial responses and then add more thoughts at a later time. Planning for a meaningful best life does take some work. However, the time you spend now will be more than worth it in the future.