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5 Ways to Take the Fear Out of Retirement

By Debbie Hensleigh March 01, 2018 Lifestyle

Maybe it’s not a feeling of fear that you feel… maybe it’s more like dread or uneasiness of the unknown. The dictionary definition of the word retirement is “the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work.”

Since a large part of our life and identity for many years has been our work, the thought of not having that can make us unsure of the future.

The boomer generation and those that follow should be considering the distinct possibility that we just might live into our 90s. To cease working for 25-30 years after retirement is a long time!

There are steps to take to face the ThirdThird of life, i.e., ages 60-90, without fear. Here are 5 suggestions to combat the dread of the unknown, the uneasiness of what to do with a lot of years – possibly another one-third of your life – “post job.”

Choose Your Words

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Wayne Dyer

The first way to begin to move past the fear of what retirement means for you is to eliminate the word “retirement” from your vocabulary. Don’t think of your life as empty or purposeless or “post-work.” Think of it as your ThirdThird!

If you retire at 60 and live to be 90, that’s a long 30 years. Thirty years is a third of 90, so you have the opportunity to build on your first two thirds of your life and make your ThirdThird your Best Third!

Think of your life in the ThirdThird as opportunity. You have the opportunity to build on all of the experience, wisdom and skill that you have amassed.

Invest Your Time in a Meaningful Way

I have some discretionary time, and I have skills in need of an outlet. I was on the prowl, as it were, to find a way to contribute to our community in a meaningful way.

I am not really ‘Board material’ as I prefer action to talk. I don’t want to be involved in politics. I have tried mentoring and have found my particular mentees to be less than motivated. I’ve volunteered at church and Habitat for Humanity events with good success, but in one-time events.

Recently, I was invited to an informational lunch about the Community Health Clinic in our county. I learned that they have a Food as Medicine program, well- funded by grants, and they need a volunteer leader to make it better.

They have an intern who is there daily, so it is a leadership/development opportunity more than a show-up-and-make-it-happen commitment. I have always thought of nutrition as my hobby, so I jumped in.

I’m excited about this Food as Medicine program and the monthly pop-up food pantry we will have. I can see myself doing this for a long while.

There are opportunities that will fit your skills and interests. If you are looking for them, you’ll find them!

Pursue an Interest

When you do not have to show up someplace at 8:00 a.m. every day, you have some time to follow your curiosity. Don’t worry about finding your passion. Just find things to be curious about.

A friend of mine has discovered contra dancing and is often housing various other dancers who come to our town for festivals and exhibitions.

Another friend is making “working wall art,” combining wood with antique and vintage door knobs. He and others I know find great enjoyment selling their various wares at the local farmer’s market.

I think it is safe to say that there is a class available for just about anything you might want to explore. If not in your community, then definitely online. Maybe some travel will help you stir or deepen an interest you can pursue.

Make Health a Priority

I read that 70-90% of disease is life-style related. I believe that. A client of mine in her late 70s recently got her blood pressure under control in six weeks by changing her diet and walking daily.

Falls and joint pain are just two of the common concerns that come along with age. Regular yoga helps with both since balance and flexibility are both addressed. Walking is an easy way to get blood flowing and heart pumping with all the good feelings that a bit of exercise brings along.

I resorted to putting a scale in our kitchen to remind myself and my husband that we have a weight we want to stay beneath. Even our son who has Down Syndrome has been able to get his weight under control with our daily reminder – brutal as it seems, to some.

In our ThirdThird, making health a priority can make our years post-work much more satisfying.

Give Yourself a Deadline to Meet

Take advantage of the fact that you are in control of your time – now. Choose one thing that you have said you would do when you retired, or that you dreamed of doing, and set a deadline for completing it. Or, set a deadline for starting it!

I just published my first book. I’ve talked about this for a long time and it all came together this past year, my 66th. I said it would be done in January of 2018 and guess what? It was!

Just as in your business/working life, there was nothing as motivating as a deadline, so it is now as you are making the most of the opportunities you have in your ThirdThird. One thing at a time. Set a goal and a deadline.

Build a purposeful life. Make you ThirdThird the best Third of your life by fearlessly refusing to think of yourself as ‘retired.’

What ways have you had to adjust your thinking after your career years ended? How are you planning for your post-work years? What joy have you found in new opportunities with more discretionary time? Please join the conversation below and share your experiences and insights.

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The Author

Debbie Hensleigh is a serial entrepreneur and business coach who is intent on living life on purpose. She is a speaker, writer and leads workshops on intentionally designing your best ThirdThird, from ages 60 to 90. Building on the FirstThird (learning years) and the SecondThird (earning years), the ThirdThird can be the best Third. Please visit Debbie’s website here

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