I have spent a large portion of my career convincing people that they can retire, be happy and have purpose. I even developed a process to tackle the emotion of retiring. I call it the three “tions”. If you will follow these three elements, you will move effortlessly into your retirement. The first “tion” is “vacation”. You need to make the first phase in retirement a vacation. Vacations take us away from work and free our minds, but more importantly, they end. That they end is important because if they didn’t you could waste away on vacation somewhere and believe me, this will eventually get old if not dangerous.
The second “tion” is “obligation” as in it no longer exists, at least not in the sense it did when you had an employer to satisfy. You are now free to say yes to what you want to do and no to those things that no longer interest you or warrant your time. You can say yes to things you enjoy doing and you don’t even need to require payment. You are on your time now and no one can require you to punch the clock.
The final “tion” is “passion”. This one is the critical element of retirement. It is important that you identify your passion. In retirement you now have all the time you allow yourself to follow and live your passion. This element is often the hardest one for retirees to grasp. The problem is that they confuse it with WHAT they did in their career as opposed to WHY they did. When I address this passion with my clients they often tell me they did what they did for the money. I will tell you that even if you think that was the why, it isn’t. If it was, you would have been changing careers continually. The fact that you didn’t change careers is testament to the passion that defined you in that career. I ask them to think of a day that was outstanding. You came home full of purpose, walking on air. What was it that you did that day? How did you do that and why did it feel so special? Your passion lies in the answers. Let’s say you were a nurse. On that extraordinary day, what were you doing? Were you holding someones hand, calming their fears? Then volunteer to help people face and understand their fears. Were you successfully getting someone to meet their exit goals? (read my blog “The Healing Process”) Then put yourself in a position to help people complete projects or tasks they are struggling with. Please understand, I didn’t say this was easy, I said it was important. To identify your passion is one thing, and remember it is a process not an action, but to find an outlet can be daunting. Just don’t give up. We all have something that fulfills us. Finding a way to express it gives us purpose. Purpose keeps us moving.
So this brings me back to the question I posed in my title. If I can explain this so well, and with pretty good success, why is it so hard for me to heed my own advice. I am good with the vacation and I am excited about the no obligation. I even understand my passion. I know that I am most purposed when I am in discussion with others helping them to resolve issues. I am a problem solver. I need simply to step over that line in the sand I drew so many years ago. But my feet seem frozen.
I need to confront my fears. Can I follow through on my passion, to be disciplined enough to take the steps. Can I separate myself from my clients, especially when I enjoy their conversations. Will I miss my coworkers and the sense of being useful, maybe even needed. Will my wife be able to deal with me under her feet 24-7. I have come to the realization that advice is easy to give but quite difficult to follow.
If you were hoping for a conclusion, I must apologize. You will need to stay tuned as I get nearer to that line in the sand. In the meantime, I will review my “tions” and in time I believe I will come to own them. And then the line in the sand will fade behind me.