Throughout my career as a engineer, retirement planning was mentioned every other year or so. I didn’t pay it much attention in the beginning because it seemed so far. I figured I had plenty of time to think about it and it was not on my radar (career, family, home, husband, etc). I understood there were two main areas to be prepared for; medical issues and funds to get you through the non-employed years. So I planned accordingly and invested my salary every year and prayed I would stay healthy.
About 10 years before I thought I would retire, I started to regularly attend retirement seminars (today I’d say start planning right away). This was before Google and the extensive web information currently available, so I relied on information provided by workshops, the library, investment brokers, friends and family. I stayed steadfast with my investments and saw some returns and a couple downturns.
Repetitive seminars year after year sounded the same information. I knew there was something missing. Health and money was very important, but I knew there were other aspects of my life equally important such as mental agility, flexibility and community, that should be discussed. Where were the discussion of what I was going to do after I left my profession or how should I plan to stay creative and fulfilled?
Because I had a passion for the environment, horses and connection I wanted to further explore this areas after I left my career. While I was working, I took classes, discovered new interests and learned more about who I was. I knew I would be more than a retired woman, I’d be a woman with 35 years of professional work, experienced in raising a family, well traveled and a lover of horses. I wanted to continue learning, playing and expanding my spiritual connections. I took a new look at my self, to be sure I would live life fully, with purpose and passion, But these parts of life, social, environmental, family, spiritual and play, so important to consider, were not mentioned or discussed in the planning for retirement seminars.
During my last year of working as professional engineer, my work stayed stimulating, motivating and interesting right up to my last day. I left my office with a upbeat, positive attitude so to enter retirement with the same outlook. It was a habit I cultivated and intended to maintain. It was my choice and it felt good. I observed other workers fearful of moving on or doing something unfamiliar. I watched as co-workers counted down their last year with signs saying “Only XX More Days Till I’m Done” on their computers or had signs saying “Stick me with a fork when I’m done”. Funny? Maybe. But I wondered if it wasn’t it a bit sad to choose to stay in a state of limbo, perpetually forlorn or a bad mood for the last year or two of a career? I observed some where “work” was the only place they seemed to find fulfillment or the opposite; they couldn’t wait to leave.
Either way, I thought, their attitude was indeed their work habit and wondered how easy would it be to transition into a satisfying, fulfilling retirement if they had created a pattern of drudgery or non-fulfillment?
So, I planned my last “hurrah” or “stage of life”, after retirement differently. One with health, wisdom, play, kindness, spiritual inspiration, fairness and generosity. My retirement plan did include finances and health but it also strategically included other critical areas of my life such as
- 13% – Social –Family, Friends, Community
- 12% – Environment – Home, Farm, Pets
- 15% – Health – Emotional, Physical, Mental
- 25% – Finances – Self, Tithing, Investments, Entrepreneur
- 15% – Spiritual – Charity, Spirit, Nature, Love
- 20% – Play – Creativity, Volunteering, Never Ending Improvement
I mapped it out so I could see the areas that were important to my whole well-being.
These parts of my life are ones that I need to thrive, all of them, not just one or two. I want balanced, not have one area more important than another. Yes, at times my life becomes imbalanced and things get topsy-turvy. That is when I really need to take a good look at my wheel and figure out how I’m doing. To get back on track, I might need to adjust or change the categories, and that is fine because adapting and change is also part of my habit. A few months back, I found I was “playing” and expanding my mind (books and internet browsing). I found myself out of balance. My friendships became limited and family time was strained. My business started to suffer. I got in a slump, but then with some simple adjustments and checking my wheel, I saw what was happening. I started living in the present and came back into balance. Not a perfect wheel, but able to roll..
What is your Wholeness Retirement Plan? What does retirement mean to you? Be prepared to change and re-evaluate your likes and dislikes. Things change just as you have changed over the years. You have more experience and knowledge. The dreams of a 24 year old are very different from a man or woman of 63 or 65. Take the time to evaluate what and how you want your life to be at this later stage. Look at the balance in your life now. Is there too much time spent at work and not enough with the family? Choose to change that behavior. Explore the parts of the whole that are important to your long-term well-being. What makes your heart sing, what is fun, how do you play and what allows you to feel fulfilled? Try a new dance, learn a new game, swim or visit new places. Start now, to live life fully and thrive. These good habits will follow you into retirement.
Barbara is a certified EGCMR life and wellness coach. She, along with her husband, dogs, cats, horses and cows, live at Wayfinding Farm, located near Ocala Florida. For more information about life coaching, connecting heart, mind, body and spirit to create wellness and balance, go to her website WWH.biz or call 304-282-0353.