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Thinking of Retiring This Year? 6 Tips to Help Your Journey

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by Denis Wuestman

For many people, starting a new year is often accompanied by resolutions to do something different. The areas that seem to get the most attention focus on health or work as evidenced by increases in gym memberships, new diets or job searches.  In many cases, this will require creating new habits and searching for the personal incentive to sustain a new path.

As someone who has spent many years helping companies transform the way they work, I see strong parallels between work processes and the more personal aspects of one’s life.  One thing is very clear – change is a journey and requires the ability to learn from and then let go of the old way in order to progress. In addition, a high degree of flexibility is necessary to help make adjustments and keep moving forward.

The Continuous Journey

I often remind managers that every time they reach a destination, they should treat that arrival as a new departure point for the next destination. This is a way to ensure continuous and long-lasting improvements.  The same can easily hold true in one’s life. Each step we take towards a goal gives us the momentum to launch towards the next destination as part of our journey.

This philosophy can be applied to people considering a transition into retirement. After years of full-time work, many enter retirement with high expectations for this exciting part of their lives.  However, it’s how they prepare for the transition that can make a big difference in their satisfaction. Since this is a major change one may need to create some new habits to help them along.

6 Tips to Build a Learning & Doing Habit

Is this the year you plan on making the transition to retirement? If so, you have likely spent a lot of time focused on the financial side of the equation, and hopefully, have a good plan.  To accompany that piece, here are six tips to help you prepare for the non-financial aspects of a retirement transition. Along the way be sure to have some fun and keep the momentum alive.

1) Determine what is most important to you.  This will take some soul searching but can help you focus on this next stage of your life. Do you envision yourself continuing to work? Is there a particular cause that you want to invest time in? How do you want to spend your days?  Outside of the realm of activities also consider what do you want to improve in order to meet your personal expectations? Examples are health or relationships or even one’s own mindset.

2) What do you have to leave behind? Very often, understanding what you have to let go of is critical to helping you move forward. Similar to learning how to walk or ride a bike, it’s when we let go of someone’s hand or lose those training wheels that we truly grow and learn.

3) Prioritize.  Perhaps there are multiple things important to you. Choose 1 or 2 things to get started, and create some clear goals. Knowing how you will recognize success should be part of your goal.

4) Plan & Act.  This is where you can easily struggle, but a goal without action is just a dream (saw that in a card store and loved it!).   Resist making this too complicated but rather focus on making progress. Any action no matter how small is good.  Then hold yourself accountable.

5) Learn and adjust.  This can be the fun part of the journey. As you take actions, what are you learning? What adjustments do you have to make in order to better navigate your journey? What do you want to change?

6) Set Next Destination. Now that you have made any course adjustments, what’s your next landing point? Create actions, try it, learn and adjust – keep going!

Success Factors

In trying anything new and/or building new habits here some things to keep in mind:

  • Time.Like anything worthwhile, an investment of your time and focus is paramount. It’s work! Hence, if your goals are not important to you then you will not spend the appropriate time focusing on them.  Carve out time in your day or week to work on your goals and complete the actions.
  • Get a Partner.  Having someone you trust to help you negotiate options, prioritize or even hold yourself accountable is invaluable. While you might have the best ideas, you may not be strong in turning them into actions.  Here is where a trusted thinking partner can help.  Often having someone objective and unrelated to you, like a coach, is a perfect solution for this.
  • Practice.  Trying new things is a great way to nurture new habits. Progress over perfection is the key. Think about when you first took on a new assignment at work or learned a new exercise. Until you tried it, you couldn’t possibly know what you needed to do to improve. So while practice may not necessarily make you perfect….it will build your confidence!
  • Flexibility quotient.What’s yours? Maybe you don’t know. Building new habits, particularly when making a transition to retirement takes a high degree of flexibility in thinking and behaviors.  Learning that change is your friend and not be easily deterred from what is important to you is critical. In a past article, I mentioned the need to be “Gumby-like”. This means that one must be able to bend, learn, adjust and grow, as you stay focused on what you are trying to achieve.

Retirement is not something you complete. Rather it’s a growing journey and is best supported by attitude, actions, and practice.   Like anything worthwhile – you might want to create some new habits to help you along the way!

 

Denis can be reached at denisw@retirementwisdom.com

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