Life Domains

As I have read through many retirement books and blogs, seven core domains of life were repeatedly discussed as critical elements in creating this next life-stage. Many books about retirement focus heavily of the financial element, but I have found that the six others were as important (if not more important) to think about when creating my new life vision.

While each domain is written below as a stand-alone, many are inter-connected.  I found that each domain has a whole set of critical questions that can help craft a life vision. And if you are part of a couple (as I am), comparing answers to these questions can raise areas that need discussion and compromise.

Some of the critical questions of each life domain are captured here:

Finances/Prosperity: Do I/we have a strong awareness of financial plans and money matters – from monthly budget/cash flow to retirement drawdown strategy (including Social Security) to insurance needs?  This is critical to understand everything from “do I need to work?” (need for supplemental retirement income) to “can I travel without worry?” But this also comes into play for questions like – can we afford to buy a second home/condo (location) or can he fund the adult toys he wants (hobbies)?

Work/Career: Whether work is needed for income or personal satisfaction, understanding the path forward here is challenging. What is right – Career Continuation or Encore Career or Bridge Job? (see my previous blog on To Work or Not to Work) And then what is the plan to work through a job search/new career training if that is the path forward?  I also found for me (a Type A workaholic) that I needed to intentionally limit this domain thinking to allow space for the other domains in my life vision.

Hobby/Leisure: What fun stuff do I/we want to do – from expanding current hobbies to identifying new ones? Fun things that use strengths/knowledge and/or build new skills?  This is a broad topic (see my previous blog on Imagining Possibilities) but it’s a great area to make sure is part of your life vision – from learning (OLLI, Roadscholar, Community College) to travel plans (bucket list destinations) to creative outlets (writing a blog!).

Relationships/Connections: This domain covers spouse to children to aging parents, other relatives, extended family and friends. Retirement significantly changes connection dynamics as you lose touch with work “friends”.   It can also change family dynamics. Are there unspoken expectations within the extended family for where time will be spent?  What connections do I/we need to maintain, improve, build, eliminate?  What support networks are there or need to be there (need to be created)?

Health/Wellbeing: This domain includes physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual well being.  What is the going forward plan for relaxation (meditation/prayer/spirituality exploration, sleep, yoga), nutrition (eating healthy, cooking healthy), activity (physically fit, regular exercise programs, daily movement)?

Location/Lifestyle: Choice of location and community can have so many implications – closeness to others, access to work opportunities, support of health & wellness. What lifestyle do we want to live? Are we more interested in rural/connected to nature or urban/close to the hub of activity? What does a home mean to us?  Do we downsize, resize, relocate, stay in place?

Community/Volunteerism: How do I/we want to share time, talents and/or treasures? With the local community? To a broader cause? For me, having no strong basis of volunteerism, in my first phase of retirement I am exploring various organizations that might fit my values & interests and looking at what types of volunteer activities there are.  I know others who are merely increasing the volunteering they currently do – taking on larger roles and/or devoting more time.

Reviewing each of the 7 core domains (with my husband’s perspective built is as well) has been extremely helpful in creating a broad Life Vision.

Have you intentionally thought about all the domains of your life going forward?

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9 thoughts on “Life Domains

  1. You did a good job summing up the important domains of retirement. Once my husband and I were comfortable that we had our financial future figured out and funded, we were able to concentrate on the others. We are currently questioning our location domain. Although we love Southern California, we are experiencing what over-development has done to our home (my native city). Even with the ability to go places on weekdays, we find we are faced with too many cars and people. It will be hard to find an affordable alternative that offers the mild climate we are used to.

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    1. I think my next post is actually going to be on the location domain! We have been working through this one ourselves. I think we have a plan now that meets both our needs. My husband shocked me upon retirement with his assumption we would move to Florida. Apparently he always wanted to live there. Yes, married for 23 years and he never mentioned that before!

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  2. You’ve hit the nail on the head for sure . I have considered many of the domains that you mention. I think that is why I am di excited to get moved and get started on this new stage of life.

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  3. Thank you again, Pat, for a thoughtful and thought provoking post. As I am still working full time, I find most of my focus being on the finances domain. I suspect that is typical for many…the “Do I have enough to retire?” question seems front and center. You’ve affirmed and reminded me of what I’ve seen in resources like the book Your Retirement Quest and Right Management’s Life Options process, namely that finances are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of elements/domains to consider with my wife as I get closer to retirement. I appreciate the questions sprinkled throughout your comments. Great food for thought.

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    1. John, I too focused on the finances. The transition period for me has really been on the other domains. And it was hard to also push beyond the Career/Work domain, which tends to be second one of focus for so much…including Right Management. And yes, many books and processes try and go beyond money & work…I just found, in general, less tools in the other domains, making it more challenging.

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