Finding Your Future

Written by Marianne Heron with Paul Britton

What exactly does ‘meeting your needs’ mean? In a nutshell it is about recognizing the things that give you a kick, bring satisfaction, or that all too elusive feel-good factor that certain things you do at work or at leisure give you. It’s different for everyone: for a nurse or a human resources manager it might be the need to work with people; for a manager it might be the ability to motivate others; for a writer the ability to harness imagination and words to bring fiction to life. Usually there are numbers of different things in and out of the workplace that meet your particular needs and it is by recognising what these are that you find your clues to a promising future.

Many of the difficulties in retirement stem from unilateral plans where one partner (usually the husband), rushes into a grand scheme, like building a yacht to sail around the world, only to find out that the better half has other ideas. Make sure that you and your partner develop a shared retirement plan. If you are single, share your ideas with a friend or mentor.

 

After retirement you need new ways to find those intrinsic (inner) and external rewards and the great thing is that you are now free to construct your own scenario for doing so. Having your needs met is one of the keys to having a satisfying life and contented relationships for that matter too. It might be through any or all of the core elements of Rewirement; purposeful activity, personal growth, fun and recreation.

You may need to do this through a basket of activities and the following three are the Rewirement core of your retirement plan.

And, when you find something that you really enjoy that brings you in touch with like- minded folk or that ignites your passion, you can start growing.

Purposeful activity

A purposeful activity is where you produce or achieve something or provide a service either for financial reward or on a voluntary basis.

 

Being involved in purposeful activity – something bigger than everyday activities where there is an end result or a service – sorry golf doesn’t count, it’s a leisure pursuit – for five hours minimum a week is key.

Think about aspects of your work or leisure that are really satisfying or enjoyable – what needs are those answering? You need a purpose that fires your imagination, motivates you and hopefully involves your passion. It’s easy to drift into keeping busy for the sake of being busy, to fall into the duty trap and do all the things you ought to do (not much fun), or to drive your other half mad by trying to take over some of their stuff, or do nothing while they are as busy as the proverbial blue fly.

Personal growth

Personal growth is an important slice in the Wheel of Life. It means being able develop in ways you want, including enhancing the quality of your life, developing new skills, increasing earning power or deepening knowledge. It’s a way to bring a bit more of the sunshine of contentment and sense of accomplishment into your life. It is very much easier to achieve that growth if you know what you want, why you want it and how you are going to get there. If you turn what you want into a goal, you are much more likely to succeed.

Perhaps you don’t yet know exactly what you want and are experiencing a sense that something is missing (SMS). For example you realise that you miss being with people and that you are a bit bored and you set out to discover a way to meet those needs for social contact and new challenge. So you begin by exploring, perhaps it might be something that has interested you but you haven’t had time to experience, like painting; perhaps it might be involve nature, bird watching or hill walking; perhaps you might build on an existing skill like cooking or train in ways that equip you to offer a service or help others. It may be the time to get technologically savvy, even if you just learn how to use email and Facebook to stay in contact with family and friends.

Fun and recreation

It might seem counter intuitive to remind you to build fun into this new stage of life, but workaholism can seriously affect your psyche. It’s surprising how many people admit that they feel guilty and have difficulty taking time just to relax and read during the day. How do you override that work ethic? Give yourself permission to take time out, even make an appointment with yourself to do something you enjoy.

And what about those unrealised promises to yourself -as in I have always wanted to do X one day? The hardest part can be getting started and taking a course is a great way to get motivated, gain confidence and meet like-minded people, whether it is to learn a language or play Bridge.

Some of the most rewarding fun involves a ‘growing edge’ – things that open up new intellectual, physical and aesthetic experiences. Add the stimulation of being with other people and you have a winning combination. The great thing about this time of life is that you have the time to experiment and find things that really give you that feel- good factor. The Wheel of Life is a tool to help you identify different aspects of your life and your shared life plan with your partner where you can identify shortcomings and set goals to improve the situation. For instance if you are less than satisfied with the fun aspect – what action could you take to make things better?

Being involved in something you really enjoy is a great ‘agedote’: think of people who are vibrant, full of life and you can guarantee they have found enjoyment in their lives be it music, art, writing, sport or nature. There’s a joke about retirement which goes: ‘the trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off! ’ But you do actually need to take time out to have surprise outings, treats and adventures as a break from routine.

You can take small steps in learning to enjoy yourself, one workaholic started by building in a treat a day, coffee with a friend, a visit to a gallery even that walk on a beach. And there is plenty of organised fun out there waiting for you to join up with whether it is a club, a society or one of Active Retirement Ireland’s numerous activities. Libraries and the internet are good places to start your search.

This excerpt was taken from Rewire Don’t Retire, sponsored by Irish Life and Active Retirement Ireland. You can download the full guide HERE