(This article is adapted from Don’t Retire Rewire!)
The transition to retirement is stressful, and that stress is made worse by not having a plan. Leaving full-time work is a time of change, ambiguity and lack of structure. It’s easier to know where you’re going if you begin to develop a road map ahead of time. In doing so, you can avoid the feeling of being out of control, which only leads to more stress.
A ‘Taking Stock’ Quiz So You Won’t Flunk Retirement
Tessa Albert Warschaw, noted executive coach, psychotherapist, author and expert on resiliency, has created the following questions to help you assess where you are in your preparation for the transition to retirement.
First, answer these 10 questions about preparation and count the number of “yes” answers to see how you scored.
- Have you thought about restructuring or reinventing yourself? Yes/No
- Have you spent time asking yourself “What’s next?” Yes/No
- Are you aware of the loss you may feel (e.g., loss of position, power, the game, the deal, a place to go, schedule, agenda, assistants, secretary, etc.)? Yes/No
- Have you considered whether you’ll miss the travel and entertainment perks of your job? Yes/No
- Have you thought about how you’ll feel about doing your own paperwork? Yes/No
- Have you considered how you’ll feel about not having a career purpose? Yes/No
- Have you thought about whether you’ll miss all those problems to solve? Yes/No
- Have you anticipated whether you’ll miss the triumphs and approvals? Yes/No
- Have you considered whether you’ll miss your title? Yes/No
- Have you thought about whether your spouse will miss your title? Yes/No
Ten “yes” answers: Either of these two interpretations is possible: (1) You are well on the road to a smooth transition. You’ve thought through the main issues to prepare for the changes in your day-to-day life and are aware of the need to create “bliss” or internal fulfillment; or (2) you are in deep denial. You haven’t come to grips with any of the changes about to take place in your life.
Seven to nine “yes” answers: You’ve done a lot of the preparation. Take a deeper look to see if it is, indeed, denial or just a few things you need to rethink.
Four to six “yes” answers: You’re only about halfway. It’s time for the SRR approach: Stop! Reflect! Review your “no” answers individually.
Three or fewer “yes” answers: You still have a way to go. You may have prepared for the pragmatic parts of your new life, but you still must come to grips with the psychological issues. You’ll meet troubled waters if you don’t make some time for reflection and specific action.
Now, answer these 10 questions about fulfillment:
- Can you imagine going to a movie in the middle of the afternoon? Yes/No
- Have you created an agenda for filling your time with avocations, interests and worthy commitments of your choosing? Yes/No
- Can you imagine, post-retirement, arising to face the day with the same anticipation you experienced during your career? Yes/No
- Have you asked yourself, “If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I do next?” Yes/No
- Have you drawn up a list of the 10 things you always wanted to do in this lifetime? Yes/No
- Have you remembered to include “playtime” or making “play dates” not synonymous with golf or tennis? Yes/No
- Do you feel you have life ambitions you want to fulfill? Yes/No
- Do you think there’s time to live your dream (if not now, when)? And do you have the desire to do so? Yes/No
- Can you reconnect with those people in your past who brought you joy and appreciation for your friendship? Yes/No
- Are you prepared to seek the truth that you are more than your work? Yes/No
Ten “yes” answers: You are ready to go! Run with your ideas. You have a good start on creating a fulfilling future.
Seven to nine “yes” answers: You have a good sense of self, and you’re ready to chart a course. Don’t let dream stealers get in the way.
Four to six “yes” answers: You’ve probably been too busy to think about fulfillment. Find someone to talk to — a coach, therapist, or another person. Now is the time.
One to three “yes” answers: Stop and rethink whether you are really doing what you want to do or what you have to do.
Zero “yes” answers: You must go beyond talking to someone and get into action. Inaction is the road to hopelessness.
A traditional retirement isn’t for everyone. That’s why rewirement makes so many people so happy. Rewiring represents a whole new way of approaching life, of staying vital and of using your strengths, abilities and gifts. It’s a way of staying active in work related to your field, working at something new, doing what you love or staying connected to what makes you special. It means refocusing your energy in new contexts.
Rewiring is an alternative to traditional retirement because it encompasses activities that provide meaning, not just leisure. It includes expanded work options and opportunities to contribute to those around you by rerouting the energy that was spent in your prior occupation into flexible, satisfying retirement work opportunities — including full-time, part-time, flex-time, phased, sabbatical, seasonal, paid, personal, and/or volunteer.
Being rewired is a customized, individualized way to live and work, one that may require a journey of discovery.
It’s for you if you are open to it.
Next Avenue Editors Also Recommend:
- Don’t Retire — Rewire!
- 5 Giant Myths of Retirement Planning
- What Surprises Boomer Women Professionals When They Retire
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