Boomer, let’s be honest.
You know I didn’t do a good job planning my retirement life. True, I’d planned my finances. I’d planned to travel. But I never planned how I’d replace:
- the ready-made social life work gave me;
- the purpose and meaning that work gave my days; and
- the structure that work gave to my day, which prevented me from routinely sleeping until noon.
Nope. Never crossed my mind.
Once I retired and these issues began to weigh heavily on me, I realized I needed help.
I started looking for it in my favorite places—bookstores. Fortunately, I came upon this book, published by the folks at AARP:
by Richard J. Leider and Alan M. Webber
Boomer, this is the kind of book you read when a season of your life has ended. A season like the end of a career. It’s a book that you pick up when you find yourself saying, “Now what do I do?” Or, “What’s next?”
The thesis of this book is that these questions are answered by taking six specific steps. They are:
1. Reflect. This step requires that you reflect on where you presently are, how you got here, and what your role was in bringing you to this place.
2. Connect. Here you must connect with someone who can listen to your reflections and offer support and feedback on how to knit the pieces of your life back together—or unravel them as necessary. Isolation is fatal, state the authors.
3. Explore. Begin exploring a variety of alternatives for creating a new life for yourself. For example, if you have retired but would like an encore career—paid or unpaid—explore places where your skills might fit.
4. Choose. Continuing with the career example above, this step would require you to choose the places where you could apply your gifts, passions, and values. Here, you’d seek to volunteer in activities supporting the encore career you have identified. For example, you might shadow someone some afternoon who was doing the thing you want to do.
5. Repack. In this step you reassess your life priorities. The authors state that this is the most difficult step and describe it at length in their book. They contend that as we journey through life we need to learn to pack, unpack, and repack often. We must decide what to leave behind and what to take with us.
6. Act. Here, you’ve identified at least some activities you might want to pursue. You’ve already reflected, connected, explored, chosen, and repacked. It’s now time for action. Here, using information gleaned from all the previous steps, you engage in the activities that will eventually help you create a new life that reflects your gifts, passions, and values.
The steps are designed to be trial and error. We work the steps, identify what we want to pursue, and then pursue it. If we find our selection lacking, we repeat the steps all over again—each time getting closer to the ideal we seek.
There is a lot more depth in this book than is summarized here. Some of it is common sense. Much of it is helpful. After reading the book, I attended a live AARP workshop that used the book as a springboard for working through what we want to do next. This book also has a companion website. You don’t have to be a member of AARP to use the website, but you do have to register with your e-mail.
I think the book is worth a read. It gives a lot of actionable advice in terms of the steps you need to make a change your life. As such, I’d recommend the book. It helped me. (Your mileage may vary.) You can check out other online reviews here.