Visualize Your Retirement Lifestyle

February is National Time Management Month.  We only get 1,440 minutes a day.  Are you satisfied with how you are spending yours?  Are you living your best retirement life or are you just treading water? 

Retirement is a little bit like being 18 again and just graduating from high school.  A whole new world awaits for you to decide how you want to live it.  Actually, retirement has even more open doors than being 18. You have more money, time and wisdom.  And, when you graduate from high school you may have your trajectory mapped out for you by other’s expectations.  Ah, but retirement…we get to decide.  This takes some reflection time.  Time to sit with your thoughts.  Grab a journal and start processing. 

Questions to trigger your thought process

Below are some questions to ask yourself. I have included my answers to them in hopes it will help trigger your thought process.

  • What energizes you? What makes your heart sing? What makes you feel totally alive? For me, it is being out in nature. Add yummy food and good company, or my journal and a great book and it is perfectly wonderful. I come back feeling refreshed and whole again.
  • What makes the time fly by for you? Think about something you like to do that you get so involved in you lose track of time. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi terms this state “Flow.”  (If you have not read his book, l would highly recommend it.) Flow transports you into a state of deep contentment. This experience often has the bonus of producing a sense of accomplishment. For me, it is when I am creating something: writing, sewing, decorating or designing a project with my Cricut.
  • What do you wish you had more of in your life? Think about how you can create more opportunities for that in your life. My WOTY is “awe” and so I am seeking more “awe” moments. I also notice that I want more unscheduled time in my life. Time to let the day unfold a little more and be open to spontaneous opportunities.
  • What do you wish you had less of in your life?  What time wasters or things do you want to eliminate? This could be too much time on social media, cloths that no longer fit your lifestyle, a relationship that is toxic or a schedule that is too full without enough White Space. “The first step in crafting the life want is to get rid of everything you don’t” (Joshua Becker, Real Simple). I am soooo ready to get rid of a lot of our “stuff.” It is making me feel suffocated. It seems like we spend the first half of our lives accumulating and the second half trying to get rid of it.
  • What did you do as a kid that you loved?  I have heard it said that we are most ourselves prior to about 8-10 years old.  That is when we start to become more aware of what our peers think and less of what we really want to be and do. Consider bringing something back into your life that you loved doing as a child. For me, one of those is riding my bike.
  • What would be your perfect climate? How can you find ways to spend more time in your perfect climate? Our winters are pretty cold, gray and cloudy in the PNW. That can be cozy for about… a month and then it becomes just plain dark and dreary. Mr. U and I want to spend more time in the sunshine during our long winters. Snow-birding anyone?
  • What does your ideal home/yard look like in retirement?  Do you enjoy having a yard or garden?   If so, do you want to care for it yourself, or would you hire that out?  Or would you prefer a condo with less maintenance, or a retirement community with built in activities available? Like many retirees, we are empty nesters living in a large home where we raised our family. We are preparing to downsize to a smaller house and yard in the next year or so. Stay tuned.
  • What would be your preferred environment that would support your ideal retirement lifestyle? Do you want to be close to the city so you can walk or have an easy drive to theaters, restaurants, coffee shops, a local pub or favorite gym?  Or do you prefer the quiet of a place in the suburbs or country? We have lived in the country most of our married life. This was very intentional as we wanted our children to be free to roam the woods away from social pressures. But now that we are empty nesters, we are ready to move closer to town, without a long, steep driveway to plow in the winter. Preferably somewhere with a view or near the water. (It is that need for nature again.) I would love to be able to ride my bike into town to go to a coffee shop or out to dinner.
  • How much social interaction do you want and where will it come from?  How much solitude do you need? How much time do you want to spend with your spouse, family or friends? If you need more social interaction, don’t wait for others to reach out to you.  Think about what steps can you take to make that happen. Or maybe you have too much going on socially and need to pull out of some commitments that are not enhancing your ideal retirement life. I love, love, love my people time. But I now know I need to balance that with some time for solitude. (And I am just figuring that out now???)
  • Do you want to work part-time or volunteer for a cause you believe in?   If so, how many hours per week would you be willing to devote to this?  Right now, I do not want to add this regularly scheduled commitment. It puts too many limitations on my time and freedom. I addressed this in a previous post, I Think I Have Commitment Issues.
  • What hobbies or interests do you want to make time for?  Consider some of the things that put you in a state of “flow” and figure out how to make more time for them. Do you want to start a new hobby?   It takes time, determination and a big dose of humility to start something new at this stage in life. It can also be extremely fun and rewarding. I have always loved to write and was interested in starting a blog for several years, but I just did not have the bandwidth to do it while working full-time. Once I retired, there were not any excuses. This blog has been a big, hairy, scary step out there for me. But working on it definitely puts me in a state of flow. I can be writing and look up to see that two hours have passed in a breath.
  • Will you be living with someone or by yourself? If you live with someone, you may want to answer these questions separately and then discuss them. This makes for an interesting, lively discussion over dinner or on a date night. Go into it with the intent of finding out the other person’s vision of a perfect retirement lifestyle.  After you have both shared this, work together to determine how you can meld the two. God willing, Mr. U and I plan to live out our retirement years together. We have discussed our retirement plans and dreams a lot. However, I wanted to test drive these questions, so we recently had a date night, and I brought this list along to discuss. It generated some surprising conversation as we discovered some new things.
Time spent in the great outdoors always makes me feel alive.

You can make no better investment in YOU than how you spend your retirement years. Take the time to reflect and make sure that you are living the retirement you dreamed of.  If not, why not? If you are not, it is time to take action and make the changes to ensure that you are living your ideal retirement lifestyle. Many retirees don’t have the option due to circumstances beyond their control. So be thankful if you have the opportunity to plan for and live your ideal retirement. It is a gift. Use it well.

What does your ideal retirement look like?

4 comments on “Visualize Your Retirement Lifestyle

  1. Although I slipped into retirement like it was a big, warm pool of water, I know others struggle. I think your list of questions are good ones to ponder and answer. Too many people retire FROM something (burnout, bad job, horrible boss, etc.) rather than TO something (entering retirement with reasonable and positive expectations).

    1. Hi Janis –
      I totally agree that we should be retiring TO something and not FROM something. My transition into retirement was fairly smooth, but then I still worked at home part time for a year and a half before fully retiring. I think that helped me transition easier. However, I can’t say it was quite as easy as “slipping into a big, warm pool of water” either. (Love that analogy.)

  2. I thought your questions were really thought provoking. They reminded me to be more intentional in what I want more and less of in my retirement. I liked the comparison with being 18 again. That is the place (direction) I wish to come from. I always enjoy your blog.

    1. It is a bit like being 18 again. (Now, if only I still had my 18-year-old body.) I constantly have to bring myself back to what I want from these years. It doesn’t help any that circumstances are always changing. It makes for a moving target. A couple good looking guys and cars in the feature picture huh? Smile.

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