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What’s missing in your life, now you’ve retired?

Moving into retirement, some people are startled and dismayed to discover a mis-match between the retirement they dreamed of, and the one they've got.

Moving into retirement, some people are startled and dismayed to discover a mis-match between the retirement they dreamed of, and the one they’ve got.

This quality gap, between how it is and how you want it to be, is worth exploring.

There are two streams of thought.

The first stream runs along the lines of  ‘things I always wanted to do’. When tested, these ‘things’ may no longer seem relevant or satisfying. For instance, ‘I travelled often in that first year, but now, a once a year trip is enough and anyway I don’t want my retirement to be just about travel.’  ‘I started learning Mandarin, but boy, it’s hard, and now I remember what I didn’t like about languages at school.’

The second stream runs ‘I’d like to do something different and new’. This may be exciting or scary or both and sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin.  People often start/stop with this one. ‘I started writing a book. I even went to writing classes. But not much is happening, now. I think I’d be better doing something I know I can do.’  Or, ‘No-one warned me running a small business would be so time consuming and exhausting. I feel caught. If only…’

Retirement brings with it uncertainty. We don’t want yesterday’s ideas and yesterday’s models as our guides but it can be a challenge to stay open to  exploring and discovering what works for us. Just remember, you are the gauge.

This is about your quality of life for the next 10 or 20 years. It’s OK to try something and to realize ‘not me, now’ and to put it aside. It’s OK to recognize that you need help to stimulate ideas and broaden your perspective on the book or the business you’re developing – but it’s not OK if real enjoyment is not there. And it’s not OK if we start to give up on our retirement selves.

Realising there’s no real enjoyment and engagement may be the beginnings of disillusionment, giving up on dreams, settling for second best, sinking into the couch. What we never envisaged or wanted for ourselves in retirement.

Or it can be an important turning point.

Sometimes our dreams are hidden – from our selves, from our partners. Sometimes our life skills and experience are not fully appreciated – by ourselves, by our partners. Sometimes we simply don’t recognize our need for support and encouragement because we’re so used to going it alone, instead of saying, maybe I could do with some help here.

It can be useful to focus on the important issues or changes you want to make, and decide what order you want to tackle them in. For instance, if you now realise just how much you’re missing the camaraderie of work friends, you could make this a top priority. And, like a group of retired women teachers we spoke to recently, establish a regular forum for getting together.

Of course, social connectedness is only one aspect of retirement life. At Retire and Flourish we have the expertise to help you with a whole range of issues, through our in-depth consultations and fun-to-participate-in workshops.


This article has been reproduced with permission from Gabrielle Leahy of Retire & Flourish Pty Ltd’

 

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