Is retirement something you have looked forward to with eager anticipation? Finally, freedom to be where you want to be, when you want!
What is retirement? It is defined as 1. The action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work, or 2. The period of one’s life after leaving one’s job and ceasing to work. Many baby boomers who have been working for the past 30 or more years look forward to be able to finally put their job behind them and to the “golden years” of being free to pursue their own interests and hobbies. They have worked hard, maybe raised a family, they feel exhaust-ed from the nine to five grinds of working a job and they think it’s time they take a well-deserved break.
Sounds reasonable. Sadly however, many who finally reached that goal of retirement, in-stead of entering into the “golden years” found themselves in a living hell as suggested by George Bernard Shaw: “A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell.” Suddenly they realised that they have too much time on their hands. They have to adjust to the loss of a regular work routine, and its associated sense of purpose and even sense of identity. Retirement brings new relationship issues, and for those who do not find new meaningful activities to replace work, there is the risk of boredom and a sense of purposelessness that can lead to depression and other health problems.
One of the greatest challenge retirements brings, is coming to define yourself less in terms of your roles and activities — what you do — and more in terms of simply ‘being’. Instead of answering the question ‘Who are you?’ with a ‘doing’ answer such as, ‘I am an engineer/teacher/sales manager’ etc., you come to answer simply, ‘I am me.’ The challenge comes when you don’t know who you are.
If you are planning on going into retirement or are already there, now is the time to take stock and uncover what truly matters in your life. Now is the time to find out what really works in your life and to recalibrate your life in the areas of family and self. The achievement of this degree of self-acceptance is one of the great gifts of later life. Most of us have two major identity crises in life. The first, when we were teenagers, occurred when we struggled to establish an identity, to get a sense of who we are, who we want to be. The second identity crisis is at midlife when we must give up who we think we are so we can become who we were meant to be. This transition is not easy and many are clueless that it is even happening, nor do they accept the need to move on. Retirement forces the issue. Retirees can no longer hang on to the identity given by their job – as CEO, manager or whatever their position or role may have been.
Well, as they say, you need to have Awareness Before Change (ABC). Once you are aware that yes, like it or not, the season of change has arrived, you can finally focus on working out what’s next in store for you. Now is the time to rediscover your passions and don’t say you don’t have any; you simply have not discovered them yet!
HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS TO PONDER ON TO HELP YOU FIND YOUR PASSION:
- What have you always dreamed of doing or being? (Now and/or in the past, as a child… before other peoples’ opinions became important?)
- What are you really good at doing? What tasks seem to come most easily and naturally to you? If you had to teach a specific skill to others, what could you teach or want to teach most?
- What are a few of your favourite activities you wish you had more time to engage in?
- What are your personal hobbies? What do you do in your free time? What would you like to do more of in your free time?
- What makes your heart sing? What activities give you a true feeling of joy whenever you are engaged in them? What activities raise your spirit and make you feel expanded?
- What activities are so enjoyable that they cause you to lose your sense of time?
- What past experiences have made you feel great about yourself?
- What experiences have given you the greatest sense of joy, satisfaction, fulfilment and meaning?
LIGHTING THE FIRE
Have you ever wondered why the world’s richest and most successful people keep on working? Bill Gate’s net worth runs in tens of billions and even if he and his wife spend $100 million a year, it would take them hundreds of years to finish off just the principal sum. The same goes for people like Oprah Winfrey, Anthony Robbins, Steven Spielberg, and countless others. They still go in to work most days of the week, and in fact, I’m certain if you were to follow them around for just one day, you’ll be exhausted by how long and how hard they work.
There’s only one logical answer: Passion! As one of my favourite authors Steven K. Scott says, (people who are passionate) love what they’re doing so much that even when they could put their life on cruise control, they never take their foot off the accelerator. You will be hard put to find a dream-maker who does not have an all-consuming passion for his or her dreams.
Midlife is ultimately about the search for true meaning in life. We have to learn/relearn new things or new ways of doing things, establish our identity and then use our freedom of choice to do what we really want to do so we can have emotional empowerment. Midlife is an opportunity for an awakening into a deeper awareness of self. It is the time to light, or reignite the fire!