My recent column on retirement (May 30) elicited some excellent feedback from a few readers who have already moved down that path. The comments from these readers also opened up a lot of ideas for me about living a full life prior to retirement. More about that later.
First, from Lib McPherson: "When I retired in 1993, I had decided that I would spend some time setting goals so that whatever I did in retirement would reflect my highest values. I had heard too many retirees say, 'I never get to do what I really want to do because so many people continually ask me to things that I can't say no to.'
In my professional life I had considerable training in strategic planning and among the authors whose work had been used in some of my training was Steve Covey's Seven Habits which really made sense to me. I also had his book First Things First, so I decided to use it for personal study and as a workbook for determining my goals for retirement.
As a result, I chose three areas and having used the Franklin Covey planner for years before retirement, I began to use it to plan my time. My husband and I began having a brief "family staff" meeting every week to plan our week and we were honoring our values. This served us well for as long as he lived.
I am now 82 and live in a beautiful assisted-living facility. I still use the Covey planner and choose how I use my time carefully. Steve Covey's statement 'It is easier to say NO when there is a burning YES inside' is so true. Folks facing retirement need to take the time to plan for retirement systematically whether they're planning finances or how to spend their time."
For Lib, this has framed retirement and ensured that she's using her time in a meaningful way. Yet, I often hear from clients about finding meaning in their working lives, while unemployed, while thinking about career changes, etc. The question becomes, what would your life look like if you used your discretionary time in a way that fully enacted your values? Franklin Covey can then help put your thoughts into action; however, each person should find a method that works for them. Try addressing these questions as a starter:
•What are my deepest values?
•What would I like to be remembered for?
•How well are my current activities aligned with my values?
•What is one change I'd like to make to strengthen that alignment?
In addition, many books and other resources, including life coaches, can help guide this process.
Another reader, Joan Brown, reminded me of the value that volunteering can bring. It can provide structure and a sense of contribution, and can also help someone who may have moved to a new town upon retirement become part of the community. As Joan points out, many organizations welcome volunteers -- hospitals, schools, senior centers, libraries, political parties -- the list goes on and provides opportunities to fit one's individual interests.
My thanks for these thoughts; readers, your comments and ideas are always welcome!
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.