When I talk to people thinking about retiring, one of the most important concerns I hear is that this next stage in life won't be as fulfilling and meaningful as previous stages have been. This no longer has to be true because retirement as it used to be is no more.
Instead, we now have a new stage in life that may last for 20 to 30 years. There has never been a time like this in history for working people. This stage in life is so new it has yet to be named. Even the word retirement will eventually be retired.
So, what do we have in its place?
This new gift of time in terms of added years in life has tremendous value. The word is slowly getting out to the many Baby Boomers who are at different stages in the retirement process. They are also helping spread the word about what is possible and are beginning to create freedom-based retirement lifestyles that are meaningful, fulfilling, and joy-filled.
There are many different approaches to this time in life. Some of the more obvious ones are wanting to:
- Do something different in your life other than what you have been doing.
- Find a way to continue doing some of the things you liked best when you were working.
- Have additional income
- Volunteer in an area that is important to you
- Take a break before you make a decision about your future
Some take a "Gap Year" or a break before making a decision about this next stage in life. This may be a matter of several months or up to a year. The important benefit is that it gives you time to reflect on who you are and what type of lifestyle you want.
When you are looking for fulfillment, your brain needs two important ingredients: novelty and challenge. When you encounter something novel, your brain releases a neurotransmitter necessary for feelings of bliss and well-being. When you are faced with a challenge, it discharges a hormone that in small amounts, elevates mood, increases concentration, and improves memory.
In addition, researches know there are five strengths closely related to life satisfaction:
- Gratitude – awareness and thankfulness for good things
- Optimism – realistically looking for the best in things and others
- Zest or vitality – living life as an adventure
- Curiosity – exploring and being resilient
- Love – valuing close relationships.
The more of these five strengths you use to find opportunities for novelty and to challenge yourself, the more your life will be enhanced.
Another important ingredient to fulfillment is the emotion of joy. This comes from feelings of happiness and well-being. Joy gives the opportunity to broaden your outlook and to build your best future because it expands your ideas about possible options. It transforms you by touching and opening your heart.
Yes, this life stage has its challenges. However, it can also be vital and amazing. I find I can take great pleasure in life by choosing to focus on:
- Having positive emotions
- Using my strengths to be more engaged
- Creating meaning by helping others discover purpose and meaning in their lives
- Experiencing feelings of accomplishment and fun in areas I personally value
- Enjoying close relationships with my spouse, adult children, grandchildren, and friends.
Transitioning to another stage in life can be challenging. It can also be an adventure. No matter what stage of life you are in or what is going on in your life and around you, you have a choice about how upbeat you feel. Look for small things that will delight you. And when you find them, share your happiness with others so they will also feel joy-filled.
What do you choose to focus on that gives you great pleasure and makes you feel fulfilled?
If you have concerns or are struggling with this transition in your life, let's talk. Email me for a complimentary Lifestyle Transition Conversation. I help transform the Encore Years into the most joy-filled time of your life.
Until next time,