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Live Your Own Adventure

By Ardith Bowman February 23, 2024 Mindset

Remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” ® books by Chooseco? What if we looked at our post-fulltime life like that? After all, there are phases to retirement – from honeymoon to disenchantment to reorientation. Sometimes, there is no honeymoon, and we experience concern and confusion about what to do. It seems like “choose your own” is a mindset that could help us navigate the retirement journey with all its twists and turns.

Freedom to Choose

Do you ever find yourself looking around to see how others are handling life after fulltime work? Using our book analogy, that is like finding out what others are reading. It doesn’t mean that you will like the book! Of course, exploring to get ideas is a good thing. The trick is to not assume others have the key that will work for you. You could use the “choose your own adventure” chapter approach to consider your options and what is appealing.

For example, you could simply imagine or write down on paper some of the key areas you want to include in your retirement life. Perhaps draw from the four Vitality Domains© – Well-being, Mindset, Community and Purpose – as a starting point. Use whatever topics feel right to you.

Let’s imagine you want an adventure that includes relationships/community. What is your first option to begin the adventure? Maybe you choose group involvement or opt for having a few intimate friends approach. Then, follow the thread you chose to the next possibility. If you selected the adventure with a few intimate friends, next choose what you are doing with them.

One possibility could be walking/talking friendships, another might be friends with whom you connect for activities, like theater and travel. Doing this takes you on an exploration of possibility. Can you see how your decision at each option point provides the context for the next chapter? Suddenly, you may realize what you truly want!

What choices feel exciting? Which feel dreary? Watch out for making choices based on what we once imagined retirement “should” be like! I don’t think there is a Choose Your Own Adventure® book written with options for decline and limitations! The point is to nurture a mindset of doing what you can with what you have.

Fluid Storyline

Part of the delight of the “Choose Your Own Adventure®” books is that you can restart them and read a very different story based on new choices. In terms of navigating retirement, the advantage of choosing a different story may serve you at two different junctures. The first is at the end of the “honeymoon” phase and you know it is time to try a different approach. Another instance is when there is a significant shift in your life – health, marriage, move – that completely changes your life context.

The gift of deciding to choose your own adventure is that it is forward looking. It can represent growth, adaptation, and hope at a time when you might feel discouraged. Having the “choose your adventure” approach in your retirement mindset toolkit can provide a safety net when the unexpected happens.

Feeling Empowered

The charm of the “Choose Your Own Adventure®” books is that you have the option to keep the story fresh. You are in control, just as you are in life. It supports an experimental approach to retirement. How freeing! You don’t have to arrive at one ‘right’ approach.

It might be that you choose to focus on your physiological and psychological health for a period. Once you feel satisfied in that regard, you can begin the adventure again with new choices. Or perhaps you begin to go down one path and suddenly don’t like how the story is unfolding. Guess what? You can go back and make different choices!

Consider taking a “mind adventure” for yourself every couple of years to sense if there are adjustments you want to make. Remember that today many of us will be retired for as long as we worked! So, why not allow yourself to experience this phase of life to the fullest, with all its opportunity and freedom.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What comes up for you if you look at your life from a “Live Your Own Adventure” point of view? How have you navigated the phases of retirement life? What adventures are you conjuring right now?

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Jennifer L. Jessup

What a fine article. Life is truly an adventure. It often means going against the norms of society. For me it meant delving into the amazing history of the women of Quebec — Mohawk, French, English and many other backgrounds, and learning of their accomplishments. Yes, an adventure is at your fingertips on the computer.


Hooray for the adventure mindset! Your research sounds fascinating. I’d love to hear some of the stories. Any writing in the future to share? You could try sharing on SixtyandMe to see what begins to unfold. Yes, we need to walk away from what have been “the norms” for us in our phase of life ;-)

The Author

Dr. Ardith Bowman is a woman-centered coach, advancing the positive aging movement. Her mission is to empower women aged 60 and beyond to live with fulfillment throughout life. She will walk beside you, providing unwavering support and guidance as you navigate your path into more fulfillment and vitality. Find her at Becoming You After 60.

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