Retirement Transition – It’s the Journey

For many years, my husband has given me things (T-shirts, bumper stickers, magnets) with variations of the iconic quote “It’s the journey, not the destination.” He did it teasingly because as a Type-A, goal-setting workaholic, I was always about the destination. In retirement I am (slowly) coming to realize it IS about the journey.  And thankfully, after our recent derailment, I’m feeling like the journey is once more “in motion”!

But the goal-setter achiever in me still needs to know, how do you measure the experience and not focus on just achievement of the endpoint?

– First measure – Am I enjoying it? This is my life, so am I having fun living it? Is the activity I’m engaging in really what I want versus what I think I should be doing? The retirement “shoulds” can come from well-meaning individuals and/or long-term beliefs. There’s even the research that says what retirement should include – a sense of purpose, volunteering, healthy living, supportive connections. I continue to sort through the “should” to my true desires – a challenge that continual self-discovery helps. Enjoying the activities I choose is a great measure of success along the journey.

– Second measure – Am I giving it my best shot? So many new things to try and determine if they fit in my journey– from daily journaling to taking classes to starting an exercise program with walking, zumba and yoga. So am I giving each aspect a best shot incorporating it into the journey? Which also means intentionally choosing to focus on fewer things, so I can put in the effort on new things.

– Third measure – Am I seeing my vision come to life? Having a vision, in both words and visuals, is important for me being the goal-setter. Regularly checking to see if my weekly activities are aligned with that vision gives me regular measure of progress.

Have I fully transitioned to being all about the journey and not the destination?   No. But I am trying to enjoy the journey, and live every day fully.

Are you more about the journey or the destination in your retirement?



My Anti-climactic Milestone

We hit a major milestone in the Life Vision last weekend. A milestone we have been planning since we retired 2.5 years ago; the milestone that had a massive derailment in January. And hitting this moment feels completely anti-climactic!

After the previous plan fell apart, I spent many sleepless nights in January pondering the various scenarios to making the milestone still hit this spring. There were literally days planning and scheduling to find a new plan. And then even more hours of planning to ensure that it would be executed without a glitch as it started to look like it might still happen. We didn’t have confirmation until 7 days before that everything was a “go”.

Every step of the execution I expected something to go wrong. I had thought through so many contingency plans. I had put into place a bunch of fail-safe elements. I had lists upon lists of details. My corporate project management skills were in full force!

Everything went smooth.

And now it’s done. And instead of elation, I just feel a sense of emptiness. I’m trying to understand why hitting this milestone is not the huge moment I expected.

Yes, I feel a decided lack of appreciation for all the effort I put into making it happen. It happened without incident because of all the work I put in… most everyone just saw it happen – no big deal.

No, I didn’t do anything to actually celebrate the achievement. It happened. Move on.

Perhaps I need to break out a bottle of champagne for myself and toast the achievement. Look in the mirror and acknowledge the hours of effort. Take the words of a blogger friend: “The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to forgive others for being human.” Forgive others for not expressing appreciation the way you want.

And then realize the rest of the Life Vision now has more potential to be realized. This milestone removed a barrier that opens up so much potential. Rejoice in that. Look forward, not back.

Have you ever felt anti-climactic when achieving milestones?

Picture Credit: Pixabay

Retirement by Design

I just completed reading Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Although I have slowed down on researching “How to do a Retirement Transition”, when someone highly recommends a book in this space, I’m still curious enough to purchase and read. You never know when a new nugget of information will help continue the transition. I wish I had read this book much earlier in my transition!   While more career focused, it can definitely help someone create their own “retirement by design”.

The core premise of the book is to use the process of Design Thinking to design your life. Design Thinking is a well-documented approach (with tools) that helps you delve into creating the “right solution”, since every design is considered to be a solution to some defined problem.  The tools are not checklists or answers, but provide the basis for gathering insights, generating possibilities, and driving to action. In this case the “problem” is the what is your best life, so the insights help in defining who you are, what you believe, and what you want to do. While most examples in the book are examples of designing the right work/career path, the tools are completely applicable to designing the right retirement life.

A few of the elements presented were consistent in my own approach to retirement transition, but they used some cool terminology:

Life Compass – a summary of your Life View and Work View. It’s basically answering the questions of: what are your values, what’s important to you, what engages and energizes you, and why do you work. I’ve explored these areas in some of my blogs like where I discussed the key needs work provides (Status and Identity; Achievement & Utility; Social Affiliation; Time Management & Structure, and Financial Compensation) or understanding how to design in happiness (Level 1 happiness is connected to enjoyment in our interests, Level 2 intensity of happiness is connected to utilizing our strengths or talents and being engaged, and Level 3 happiness is linked to our core values and helps us feel part of something bigger.) Your Life Compass is really discovering and articulating who you are and what you need.

Life Dashboard – a snapshot measurement of core elements of life – health, work, love and play. This concept is similar to my Life Domains concept (7 retirement life domains: Health/Wellbeing; Work/Career; Hobby/Leisure; Relationships/Connections; Location/Lifestyle; Personal Development; and Finances/Prosperity), but adds the idea of actually measuring each element to aid in identifying where you want to spend your time in creating your next life design.

Prototyping – actually doing something, a small step, trying it on.   Prototyping comes after brainstorming (creating the possibilities list) and narrowing down choices. Design Thinking has a bias to action – getting to a choice and starting to do is important for designers.   Taking action moving into a design direction allows you to experience and learn, adjust and reiterate. There is a fundamental belief that doing something is better than doing nothing – by doing something you can always learn what doesn’t work!  I most recently blogged about the 10 Lives Approach – pick a “life” and do it for a month – and my month of becoming a yogi.

The book also provided me with a couple of insights into areas I’m still struggling with:

Passion – passion comes after you try something, do it for a while, and discover you really like it. Most people do not have one thing they are passionate about – the one thing that infuses every waking moment. (This was a very liberating thought!)   Most people have multiple, different things for which they have a moderate passion. So try on various things, see what resonates, and become the “hyphenated person”.  You know… the “foodie-wanabee, yoga-novice, blogger-extraordinaire.”

Paths – there are many different life paths you could take. You have the talent and energy and interests to live many different types of lives, any and all of which could be authentic, productive, and fulfilling. You shouldn’t be afraid to just start walking down one path and adjusting along the journey. Or living one life path now and starting another life path in the future.


I agree with the recommendation I received – this is a great how-to book for designing the life you want, whether it is the encore career/work you want or the retirement lifestyle you want or some combination of the two!


Picture Credit: Pixabay