“Everything that occurs teaches and prepares you for the next stage of life. Nothing is lost.” Zig Ziglar
There are valuable lessons to be learned at every stage of life. We just need to take the time to look for those guiding events. For example, during that awkward adolescent stage you come to discover that the opposite sex is called that for a reason because that is who they are: the opposite of you, which can be both good and bad! They may not be like you and you may butt heads a little, but you can learn from them and you can balance each other out.
Then you begin to navigate this fresh and exciting yet intimidating quest to start a more serious relationship with a boy or girl. Early attempts may have involved a passing “hey” in the hallway and then calling her by her last name. But you quickly discover that’s not going to get you very far. So you take a leap of faith and ask her to the movies and out for a pizza instead. That leads to a better result: the beginning of an actual romantic relationship that in time may evolve to engagement, then marriage and a lifelong commitment to one another.
Navigating the dating world involves trial and error, what is officially called A/B testing experimentation. When Plan A doesn’t work, you take a different approach and go to Plan B.
And it is no different when it comes to retirement planning. The evolution of the retired life passes through various episodes, phases or periods. Some may work well and some may not. But each comes with its lessons to be learned that will help you move on to the next more successfully.
As we head into and through retirement, there are seven different and distinct stages you will experience, for better or for worse, to lead you to an amazing retirement:
- Getting Ready: Imagination and Anticipation – You walk in and tell your boss the decision has been made and the date is set. You’ve taken the plunge, made the leap, crossed the finish line. And it feels good. You are confident in your decision and you have a certain relief in knowing that it is a sure thing now. Congratulate yourself for making this move.
- The Big Announcement: Your Farewell Tour – When the big announcement goes out, you’re besieged with a surplus of hugs, well wishes, pats on the back and high fives. There may even be a cake or two in the offing. But whatever you do, do not accept the gold watch. Yours isn’t that type of retirement. You are not heading out to pasture, but are going to continue to be a vital and vibrant force in the world. Be sure to let others know that you plan to still be involved in life in a meaningful way.
- Liberation: Time to play! – Dang this feels good. I can sleep in, take naps, play golf, have a margarita or beer at lunch. Pretty exciting. Savor this time. You have earned the rest and relaxation you dreamed of for so many years. Do not feel guilty about just taking it easy for a while and “doing nothing.”
- Disenchantment: So, this is it? – You can only play so much golf and drink so many margaritas. Eventually your head and heart will tell you that you have lost your meaning and purpose. Take a moment to reflect on what is important to you and what you would like to spend your days doing. Do not get lost in the uncertainty, but build a foundation for yourself that you can work from to develop or redevelop your motivation for living.
- Reorientation: Back to the Drawing Board – It’s time to reimagine the authentic retired life you wish to lead. You know, one that is brilliantly lived. Ask yourself what that life would look like and take steps to make that happen, whatever that means for you personally. When one avenue closes, try another. When one window is shut, look for an open door somewhere else. This will lead you to the right fit for you.
- Reconciliation: The New You – Yep, this is going to work out. You accept and come to terms with where you are in your retired life and the role you have selected. Enjoy the choices you made for retirement and live them out to the fullest.
- Your Legacy: A Look Back – How did I do? If it was like most lives it was full of ups and downs, ebbs and flows, joyfulness and a heartbreak or two. Take time to think about where you have been and how you got here, what worked and what didn’t work. What lessons have you learned that you can share with others? Consider writing your thoughts and insights about your life in a legacy narrative, which 2nd Act Lives can help you with.
Settling into an authentic, passionately lived and satisfying retired life is a process with experiences to be grasped, studied and analyzed at each step. As in love, don’t be discouraged by setbacks. Just enjoy the ride. With a positive, hopeful approach and a willingness to go with the flow when things don’t quite have the results you envisioned, it will all work out for you in the end.
“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Gary A. Weuve, CFP®
Founder and CEO
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