Recently, one of the bloggers I followed recommended a new book by an author I had read during my transition. This new book, as with many authors, includes a repeat of some of the same great tools and exercises the author finds especially useful – in this case tools to aid in transitioning. It made me ponder what tools and exercises I had found most useful from the many books I read throughout the past 2 years of retirement transition.
In hindsight, what has truly worked?
Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way, or any of her subsequent books, has a number of great self-discovery exercises. Her Morning Pages tool has become an integral part of my morning ritual. I use it for emotional awareness, creating feelings of accomplishment, and positive self-talk. I attempt to have Artist Dates with myself a couple of times a month and they have pushed me to explore a number of new, fun (out of my comfort zone) activities as well. During self-discovery, I used her memoir exercises, her secret selves exercises, exercises for creating future visions (both as stories and in a visual collage), lists of little luxuries, and customized affirmations. I continue to use many of these visioning exercises as part of my Morning Pages and regular Action Planning. (I am a planner.)
I had used this book series years ago when thinking about career change, and was pleasantly surprised that What Color is your Parachute in Retirement (John E. Nelson and Richard N. Bolles) really helped me in this life transition. Written in an educational way, the book builds on Laslett’s Four Ages of Life Model with retirement as the Third Age (freedom, flexibility and fulfillment). The authors provide excellent perspective about six elements of an ideal retirement (financial, social, geographical, psychological, biological, and medical). I found a lot of benefit in the concepts of Positive Psychology (pleasure linked to interests, engagement linked to strengths, meaning linked to values). This book really helped me articulate my values with a values questionnaire and I’ve used their thinking on geography and meaning of home as we look to our next “place”.
From Ernie J. Zelinski, I’ve latched onto the concept of a Possibilities List. [Blogger Mr. Firestation calls his the Not-be-Bored List, a name I’m contemplating stealing.] But Ernie’s approach to creating the list was what really got me started. He’s another author who has repeated some of his great tools in two books of his that I read; I’d recommend How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free for someone really focusing on not working as they retire early. He has so many ways to think about generating possibilities about “what should I do” when you’re not working…you should not be bored!
The Joy of Retirement by David C. Borchard was one book I wished I had read earlier in my exploration into transition. David presents a Profiler Model that helps you define who you want to be in retirement and then proceed to help show what aspects of lifestyle will help you be that person. As with many books on retirement, the work or not question is well-embedded in the thinking, but in a way that allows you to choose the right path for you. I loved his exercises on identity-based roles, personal definition of success, and a unique way of identifying strengths.
Don’t Retire, Rewire by Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners assumes you WILL work in retirement. Besides that going in premise however, I found their exercises on defining your motivational drivers and what in your work-life was satisfying your drivers to be extremely helpful. So even if you choose not to work, you can identify what drivers need to be fulfilled in other aspects of your life. For me it was structure and connections.
So that’s my top 5 books and the elements that really worked to help me through the transition from workaholic to learning how to live. There were other books that helped, but these 5 definitely had the biggest impact. As I relooked at my book stack, I also realized I still have a few unread ones in the pile! Maybe there’s another gem in there… oh, the researcher in me is intrigued!
And now, what book(s) worked best for you? Do I have another one to add to my unread pile? (I should warn you, the read pile is 32 books… did I mention I’m a researcher?)
Picture Credit: Pixabay