After having written three career management books with an eye to helping my friends, clients and associates better navigate those stormy waters, I noticed more and more people retiring. Too many had a long list of what they no longer wanted to do (commute, get up early, put in too many hours on projects they hated, etc.,) but they didn’t have a clear idea of what they wanted to do. We now may have as many as 30 years to enjoy, but these may not all be quality years. Planning matters.
When I see a problem, I research it and write, but something got in the way of this plan. I mapped out the book and then couldn’t write it. I had all the material and loads of good ideas, but I couldn’t get started. You may have guessed my issue: I didn’t have a plan for my own retirement. In my career books, I talked about things I had done to be successful, but how could I promise my readers how to make the best of their retirement years if I had no idea what I would do with mine?
The answer began with a redefinition of the word “retirement.” So much of how we describe it speaks of endings, which made sense for many years as most retirees were near the end of their lives at 65. Instead, I now define retirement as “waking up each day to do things that bring you joy.” If you don’t plan, you may be content, but you’ll miss out on the joy. Joy takes planning. For myself, I found that not a lot changed because the work I was doing (coaching, writing, speaking) made me very happy. But with an eye to actually making a plan, I realized that I also needed to travel more frequently because the day might come when I wouldn’t be able to get around so easily. We’re talking about a move, another choice that works better when you can handle the stress and complications of an interstate move. I also decided I would try to build a coaching practice to help vets, my personal passion project.
With a written plan, I found that I could complete the writing of “Retirement Savvy – Designing Your Next Great Adventure,” in a matter of months, including critiquing and editing. I’m more excited about this book than any of my others. I can look forward to the plans I have made and test them every day on how much they make me happy. Recently, I quit a part-time job because it had become increasingly more irritating. That might not have happened without the clarity I gained by making a plan. More important, I have heard from my readers how it has opened their eyes to the opportunity retirement presents to them. Many have begun taking action and not letting the days slip by so quickly. Our perception of time changes when we have too much of it.
Throughout my work life, I moved from job to job and career to career, much like our younger folks do now. I have been: a biochemical geneticist, a programmer, a performance and capacity expert, a pre-sales consultant, a marketer, a writer and speaker and a coach. It refreshes and energizes us to challenge ourselves, even in our later years. While I probably won’t make radical changes in my life as I did when I was young—many seemed to scare my mother and friends more than they did me—I will always look for something new, adapting my plan on the fly to accommodate exciting opportunities. I learned this from traveling a lot. Make sure you know what’s important to you and plan for it, but leave room for serendipity. Be open to the possibility that old passions and hobbies may die out leaving time for new activities.
What would you like to do with your later years? In my book, I define a coaching model called “The Happiness Intersection,” which will help you begin your plan. My book goes through the exact issues and considerations I looked at with my plan, covering areas such as health, travel, working, volunteering, moving and more. I’ve also given you a few appendices covering how to start with Medicare (if you thought open enrollment at work was tough, just wait) and dealing with internet security.
"Our perception of time changes when we have too much of it."
Denise P. Kalm, BCC, has been reinventing herself her entire life, beginning her career in genetics, years in various roles in IT and then training as a personal/executive coach at John F. Kennedy University and as a creativity coach by Eric Maisel. Retirement is her next reinvention; she created Retirement Savvy – Designing Your Next Great Adventure to help others (and herself) design a retirement of their dreams. This is her fifth book. The other works are; a novel, Lifestorm, Career Savvy – Keeping & Transforming Your Job, Tech Grief – Survive and Thrive Through Career Losses (with Linda Donovan) and First Job Savvy – Find a Job, Start Your Career all available on all major sites as paperbacks and e-books. She also writes articles, blogs and short stories. Web sites: www.dpkcoaching.com and www.denisekalm.com. Social media accounts: @denisekalm and www.linkedin.com/in/denisekalm.