Ok, I’ve only been retired for one year from my demanding, albiet rewarding, career as a school psychologist, but I have learned some valuable lessons already which I want to impart to fellow retirees and those anticipating the leap: PREPARE – PLAN AHEAD. I’m not just talking financial planning which is discussed by everyone – everywhere. That is a given. Instead, I’m referring to the psychological, spiritual and physical preparation that most of us don’t consider very often. Let me explain.
- PSYCHOLOGICAL PREP WORK: It all sounds good on paper and in theory…done with the daily stresses, grind, and responsibilities associated with your career or work…but in reality, the abrupt cessation of these things can leave a void. And we all know that something will always rush in to fill a void. Plan ahead now to fill the void with something meaningful. Discover or uncover those things/activities that make you happy, fulfilled, excited to get up each day, and give your life meaning like volunteering, developing a long-neglected talent, or discovering a new one. Otherwise, it is too easy to slip into the stay in pajamas all day, lose yourself in the TV or Internet, wander around the house aimlessly – routine. Boring and depressing!
- SPIRITUAL PREP WORK: There is something about retirement from your life’s work that triggers thoughts of mortality. As the old song asks: Is this all there is? This is a big-time question and one that can leave a person in despair if not spiritually prepared. While we are busy with building our careers, working, and raising our families, we are often so preoccupied that we don’t consider the Bigger Picture. Start now to examine and define your spiritual beliefs, explore new ideas, come to grips with your own mortality and legacy – whatever those are for you. Consider your legacy. How do you want to be remembered? Do something now to shape your destiny and leave the World a better place. It really is not too late, unless it is and your time is up.
- PHYSICAL PREP WORK: I never thought I’d say it…but here goes. I enjoy exercising and it feels good! When I was working full time I erratically put forth effort to exercise, but always found an excuse…takes too much time…too busy, etc. Now that I’m retired, I really can’t make the same excuses. Actually, I can make the excuses, but I no longer can get away with them. Why is this important? Aging and retirement often coincide with each other. It isn’t fun to feel tired, achy, depressed, “couch-potatoey” which, not coincidentally, tags along with inactivity. Think of feeling energized; sleeping better; being fit. All by-products of exercise. I found that muscle-building and aerobic exercise can enhance overall wellbeing – Wow, what a concept! But seriously, it actually does. This comes from a formerly non-exercising person. Who would have thought it? There is another perk I’ve found from participating in group classes like water fitness or yoga – socialization with other like-minded people. This helps fill the social connection void often created by retirement. Win-Win!