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Six Steps toward Achieving a Fulfilling Shift into your Post-Career Life

Congratulations! You set the date and you are leaving your career for a new adventure! Or perhaps you started your adventure a few years ago and wonder, is this all there is? Do you find yourself reminiscing of days gone by? Do you miss the day-to-day schedule, the peers, the challenges? After all, the decision to leave your career to strike out in a new direction is a major shift and not for the faint of heart. Shifting your priorities in preparation for this change involves some pre-planning as well as flexibility. There are no hard and fast rules. Here are some ideas for you to consider:

Visualize Your Future

Close your eyes and imagine when you are most happy and feeling fulfilled. What are you doing? Listening to smooth jazz? Playing with the grandkids? Hiking along a trail enjoying glorious views along the way? Experimenting with new recipes and hosting dinners with family and friends? Volunteering at a shelter? Taking the time to daydream and creating a clearer vision of what will give you a good quality of life will give you some helpful road signs to know what your ideal retirement might look like.

Redefine What it Means to Be Productive We're all programmed to be productive; to do more, be more, and earn more. This is why it is not unusual to fill up each and every day with a new activity. Instead, develop a plan that incorporates creating your new identity. And give yourself permission to do nothing. That does not mean being lazy or watching TV all day. It means taking time to smell the roses; to be grateful for what you have already accumulated instead of seeking more. Happiness, after all, is a state of mind, so begin by devoting time to reflect on these things and count your blessings.

Eliminate A Bad Habit It's human nature to have a few bad habits. We often joke about simple pleasures or occasional indulgences, but everyone tends to do things that truly sabotage their life. These issues can be compounded when you're no longer working. The fact is people tend to do the same things after they retire that they did before. Eventually the bad habits outweigh the good. To counteract this, pick a bad habit that may be holding you back and create a support system to eliminate it. That way you'll have one less aggravation holding you back from creating a truly happy retirement.

Stay Connected

Loneliness can be a part of aging. But it doesn't have to be. For many of us, work has been our primary social outlet. Once we leave the workplace behind, we discover that we have also left our social connections. No longer do we have a shared experience that brings us together. Instead, try volunteering in the community, taking walks in the neighborhood and joining book clubs and other special interest groups to expand your social circles.

Learn Something New

Research shows that challenging the brain in new ways can help to keep you mentally sharp. While you're working, that often comes with the territory with meeting new people, mastering new skills and taking on new projects. When you retire, you may have to be more proactive about challenging yourself.

You can — and should — keep discovering new things in your retired life, too. But you may have to seek them out. There are plenty of ways to do it, and crossword puzzles and sudoku are only the beginning. Consider taking an adult education course at a community college, learning a musical instrument, traveling to a new city and learning the history of your destination. Whatever you choose, be sure to also get offline since extensive screen time has been linked with worsening mental health. This is a great time to explore!

Develop A Spiritual Life Spiritual growth provides the foundation for a healthy emotional and mental wellbeing and helps you to act naturally with honesty, integrity and truthfulness. Whether through meditation, organized religion, a personal relationship with a perceived higher power, or a connection with nature, the resulting spiritual connection may provide context for your life by defining the values and virtues you subscribe to and wish to integrate into your retirement. Whether it's serving others or seeking peace of mind, a spiritual life can also connect you to like-minded people while providing a safe place for reflection during difficult times. The practice of turning over that which is beyond your control to a higher power will eliminate some of the heavy burden that accompanies unexpected life-changing events and create mental space for more positive and happy thoughts.

Whether you're one day or a few years away from retirement, if practice makes perfect, adding these six essential routines to your training and preparation for retirement can play useful roles in creating a happy and more joyful transition. Email us and let us know how you plan to practice being happy in retirement or what you're already doing to keep smiling.

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