Retire to Do What You Love

This afternoon I had a personal meeting with Thelma Mariano, Life and Retirement Coach.

When I first started my blog nine months ago I was newly retired and asked the question: what do I want to do for the rest of my life? The answer to this question is becoming clearer but meeting with Thelma helped me to re-evaluate my goals at this stage of my life.

Our meeting started off with her stating that when you retire you have to build a new life for yourself – one where you’re going to fulfill your needs and pursue your dreams.

“Now that we’re living longer, if you retire at sixty it’s reasonable to expect a good twenty or thirty years ahead,” she said. “My ninety-one year old father still plays golf and has a healthy social life. Because we have become more aware of our health and are taking care of our bodies, we can be active well into our eighties or beyond.”

We baby boomers may be ready to retire from our regular jobs but certainly not from life. And we’re never too old to go after our dreams.

Ms Mariano’s tools are based on twenty years of research and coaching experience. One such tool which she gave me as “homework” is “Your Life Values” questionnaire. This is in two parts. The first part requires you to identify what you still want to experience and express. Forget those values which you’ve already integrated.

Along with a suggested list of values came two pages of notes. For example:

* Our Life Values are powerful, as they actually determine what we create in our lives and show us the areas that need change. They are also what motivates us and what ultimately gives us satisfaction.

The exercise also requires you to prioritize your list:

* Changing the priorities of your values affects the way you think, feel and behave in every area of your life. Someone who puts Challenge/Risk at the top of her list will go after very different opportunities than someone who puts Security as #1.

I relied on my gut feeling to prioritize my values and define how I will achieve them. So here’s my list:

1. Tranquility
2. Being recognized for my writing
3. Having a loving relationship with a man
4. Deepening my relationship with my daughter
5. Meeting more writers
6. Going to Barcelona
7. Having my own website as a writer
8. Spiritual growth
9. Going to interesting writers conferences
10. Attending a yoga workshop in Hawaii

The only reason I put spiritual growth at the number 8 position was because I had previously done Mariano’s “Slice of Life Satisfaction Chart” and spirituality had come out very strong so I didn’t feel that I needed to prioritize that aspect. I hemmed and hawed at whether a loving relationship with a man was more important than my writing career.

Then I thought of a TaroGold. quote which I received in my inbox a few weeks ago: “If you sacrifice your growth and talent for love you will not find happiness. True happiness is obtained only by fully realizing your potential. Love should be a force that helps you expand your life and bring forth your innate potential with fresh and dynamic vitality.” In the midst of writing this I felt caught in a chicken and egg situation. So I guess my number 2 and 3 values go hand-in-hand.

But wait! The test is still not finished. Now that I’ve identified my values I need to define them and set goals to achieve them. Yikes!

You can use some of Thelma’s tools which she’s posted on her site.

Excerpt from Retirement and Cocaine

I am in one of those funks over my retirement. I am supposed to be joyous about this situation but I am everything but joyous. Instead of joy it is anxiety and fear that inhabits me these days. Will I be able to make it financially? Will I be too sheltered and see the world close in on me.

It is as if I am dying. Or at least part of me is dying. That part that I so identified with: the teacher. Suddenly she is gone. Or perhaps she is merely shifting classrooms and now her teaching will be somewhere else. Her writing will be her classroom.

I guess what I fear is having nothing to do. I don’t mean literally nothing to do for I could spend my days cleaning my house, cooking, doing yoga , meeting friends for coffee, biking and going for long walks. That would fill up a day, all right. But there would be something missing. Some personal fulfillment not met and this is what I fear the most about my retirement.

I cry a lot these days following my retirement but I associate them more with missing my mother, my father, my sister.

My friend, Sylvie calls and I tell her I can’t stop crying. I am so fragile and sensitive.

Sylvie is a great listener but also a great comforter. She is in a way like a man for when you tell her a problem she has the need to find a solution. Unlike a man though (at least many of the men I have met whose solution is to say not to think about whatever it is I’m thinking about) Sylvie offers solid solutions.
Don’t forget you’ve just retired. You’ve got to mourn that. In all the mourning I’ve been doing this past year and a half mourning a retirement seems so banal. Superficial almost. But maybe she is right. It is another stone on my pile of grief.

The school year has begun and I feel an empty hole in my life. There is lonesomeness for my colleagues and I wonder if I have done the right thing in retiring.

I am truly retired. The fact of being retired is in my face. I am in its early stages and although I am going towards something new and unknown I must go through this passage of grieving my career. I did not think it would leave such an emptiness inside of me. This feeling of loss and being in liminality is how Murray Stein describes this transition between work and retirement.

Liminality refers to “… a threshold between consciousness and unconscious portions of the mind… a person’s sense of identity is hung in suspension. You are no longer fixed to particular mental images and contents of yourself. … the “I” is homeless.”

I love not working. I am so happy that I retired. The greatest gift retirement offers is time. The luxury to do things slowly. To get out of bed when I feel like it. To chart my day as it arises.

My friend, Thelma, friend, writer and life coach sends me an e-mail regarding an update to her website. It’s full of neat ideas for anyone wanting to retire. View her articles here.

Excerpt From Retirement and Cocaine

For the last few weeks I’ve been having a desire for champagne. And yet, I’ve nothing to celebrate. My sister died just two months ago. Why should I want champagne?

And then it strikes me. Yesterday, I taught my last class. That’s something to celebrate. It’s odd how desire comes before logic. Strange how the unconscious mind can work.

I am retiring. How can that be? Retirement is for mature people. Not me. I have too many fears about my retirement. It’s normal friends and colleagues who’ve been through it tell me. The problem, I answer, is I have never been comfortable in the normal mold.
They attempt at reassuring me by telling me that I’ll have lots of time to travel. Envy spreads across their faces. I thank them for their kindness. Try to sound up-beat but all I can think about is how foreign cities can make you feel so lonely.

Retirement is for people who know who they are and who have specific goals for their golden future. Not me again. I am still consumed with questions I asked myself when I was twenty. What will I do when I grow up? Continue reading