The thought of retiring, or of leaving the full-time workforce, may appear anytime, anywhere, and in circumstances that are personal or unique to you. There is no common thread here – it just happens. This thought invariably triggers an emotional response because it involves CHANGE, which in this case you may interpret as a closing stage in your life.
Change is inevitable. It is part of life. But you have the power to choose how you view this transition and how to best prepare for it.
What if, instead of viewing this change as a closing chapter you embrace it as a journey into your next best adventure in life?
First, you should unhinge any thoughts that lead into those uncomfortable feelings that keep you stuck and not progressing towards establishing your retirement goals. One simple but effective way to get unstuck is to create a vision of your retirement. In this article, I offer a two-step method to build this vision: (1) Visualize your Retirement, and (2) Build a Vision Board. For the purposes of this exercise, we will assume that you decided to leave the full-time workforce voluntarily, and that you are more or less financially ready for retirement.
Visualize your Retirement
This is an essential and powerful first step. The key to its success is that you focus, not only on mental images, but also on feelings and emotions.
To prepare, you should do whatever helps you be calm and relaxed. Spend a few minutes centering or in meditation if that’s what you like to do. This is when your intuition is more powerful.
Next, close your eyes and visualize yourself one year after you decide to leave the full-time workforce. The initial ‘Release’ stage or ‘honeymoon’ has passed, and you are beginning to fully experience your journey.
Now, watch carefully and take note of all the details pertaining to these questions:
– Where are you?
– Who is with you?
– What is the first thing you have planned for the day?
– How does your day look like?
– HOW DO YOU FEEL?
– On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how do you rate your level of fulfillment?
– What is missing from your picture?
– What obstacles seem to be in your way?
Try to focus on images that make you feel good, fulfilled, and motivated. Let your intuition guide you through this process. Trust it.
Go back if necessary and continue to observe and document everything. Pay special attention to your feelings and emotions. Write them down. Ask yourself other questions if necessary, and again write down what you are observing and feeling. If it helps, try to categorize your life in areas such as relationships, fun and recreation, spirituality, finances, home, career, and so on.
Let’s move forward in time. Five years have passed since your journey into retirement. Go through the exact same process, same questions. But this time, note any differences from your earlier responses. What has changed? What could have brought this change into your life?
You could continue progressing forward in time steps of five years if your visualization skills (and degree if engagement) allow you to do so. Regardless of how many times you follow this process, there will always be three key questions you must answer:
– WHERE ARE YOU?
– WHO IS WITH YOU?
– HOW DO YOU FEEL?
Spend as much time as you need doing this, but make sure you don’t get distracted or sidetracked. Go back and relax or center yourself if you begin to feel restless. Reset your visualization if necessary.
Whenever you are ready and satisfied with your results, it is time to assemble the pieces of the puzzle.
Build a Retirement Vision Board
Vision boards have become very popular to aid in visualization, and to bring goals and dreams into life. In this exercise, you will use them to ‘download’ all the images, thoughts, and feelings you documented in the previous visualization.
The only requirement to an effective retirement vision board is to focus on how you want to feel after you retire. Now you understand why I have been insisting that you give special attention to your feelings and emotions – by doing so your vision becomes more tangible.
How you build this board is then up to you. You can use any surface you want, for example a whiteboard where you can clip items onto. Or you could use a simple cardboard base, or even an entire table if you need plenty of space. You can have multiple boards, for example for the different time steps you include in your visualization, or for the different areas of life I mentioned earlier. What you include in it/them is your own creation. You could use magazine clippings, photo prints, quotations, rocks, leaves, souvenirs, tokens, and so on. Anything that brings your vision to life is acceptable.
Your Retirement Visual Board (or boards) is dynamic, that is, it is not fixed in time or space. Maybe you went on a vacation or retreat where your intuition came alive and your visualizations became sharper. Go back and revisit your board often and update it if necessary.
Putting it all together
Let us now summarize our exercise:
- Find a quiet place where you can be calm and relaxed, and free of distractions
- Visualize yourself one year after you leave the full-time workforce; make note of everything that comes to mind, and especially of how you feel
- Repeat this visualization in time steps of five years
- ‘Download’ your mental images and feelings into a retirement vision board (or boards) of your design.
- Revisit often. Update your board after new visualizations.
This forms the foundation and not the final blueprint of your vision. Because the blueprint may change or evolve as there are many things that you cannot control. The key in this exercise is to get you moving forward in preparing for your journey.
And one last thing….
By now you have hopefully realized that unless you are traveling solo, you are NOT ALONE in this journey. Your spouse, partner, or significant other must be an integral part of this vision. And so are your children and grandchildren. Maybe you want to build your own vision first, and then invite others to do the same exercise.
To Your Peace and Prosperity,