Fear No More

I’m writing this post on Halloween day. Today fear is welcomed. Enjoy it while it lasts!

“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.”


In my readings on retirement a common pattern arises. People near to stepping outside of the work box fear it. I speak about retirement with friends, family, and people in general, all in their 50s, as part my journey to dig deeper into the subject. At some point of the conversation I always ask, what do you fear about retirement? 90% of  the time the answer relates to the word health. I must confess this response disappoints me.  Shouldn’t we be fearing being disengage with life after retirement more? When I think of the 43% of retirees who fall into depression because they lose purpose, that statistic scares me.

Taking care of pending shores and visiting new places or revisiting others gives most new retirees direction during the first years of retirement. Then the need for a higher purpose kicks in. Striving for self-fulfillment has never been as important as it is during this stage of life. What gave us purpose in the past disappears or is replaced by unfamiliar activities. Our children are gone; our identification with the job title we used to have vanishes; the network of friends reduces as we lose contact with co-workers;  and the daily stimuli from work is replaced with routines. It sounds scary. “Meaningful activity will play a huge role in your retired life. If you feel bored, depressed, or unsatisfied with what you do for large part of the day, it can take a serious toll on your physical and mental health,” says Robin Ryan author of Retirement Reinvention.

The situation begs the question, what to do?

We have worked hard to build the financial support for retirement. Our basic needs of food, water, shelter and safety should be covered by our financial retirement plan. Despite this financial effort, we know that mankind doesn’t live on bread only.

The need for achievement, independence, development of our full potential and self-actualization (full realization of one’s creative, intellectual, or social potential) requires planning as well. Fortunately, we are now 50+ and that comes with some advantages (finally, the good news!)

The pre-retirement advantage: income for experimentation.

The retirement advantage: tested plan (if we have experimented in pre-retirement), time, experience, knowledge.

With 10 years ahead of me before retiring, my goal is to experiment with options. I’m looking forward to discovering the ones that I will pursue in retirement. Fear no more! I will learn my way to a happy retirement; to a realization of my full potential. Health issues may still come but I may cheat some illnesses by keeping myself engaged with life.

“Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.”

Karl Augustus Menninger

Ready to educate out your fear of retirement?

Let’s Flex our Creativity Muscle

For lack of a better name my retirement vision so far could be GREAT EXPECTATIONS!

“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.”

― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

When I look through the eyes of retirement I see this giant jigsaw puzzle with each piece representing my expectations. The risk with keeping the pieces too big is that I could end up with a faulty plan. These are my pieces: 

  • I expect my time to be well spent because finally I will have 24 hours a day “for me”.
  • I expect my health to carry me through reads, parties, hikes, jogs and new discovered passions.
  • I expect money to last and be able to share some.
  • I expect my soul to be full to appreciate life even more.

Some of you may have already succeeded at trying to balance all these expectations. In my case I have done some strikes in certain areas but for most I’m leaving the balancing task for later; perhaps for when I retire.

But what about this predictor of success in retirement? Create an engaging vision of your life after retirement and your chances of being happier will increase. I must find the time now! I want to create a vision that is big enough (or creative enough) to include all the expectations listed above.  As I was writing the previous sentence my mind asked, is this list of expectations creative enough?

On Creativity

I hope you are convinced that we are ALL creative. Otherwise, how to explain that you are alive in the 21st century when other species are extinct? Putting the evolution discussion aside, I do need to exercise my creativity muscle. Producing challenging goals for my retirement, as I have done for previous stages in my life, requires creative thinking.

Professor Gerard Puccio, in his course on Creative Thinking Toolkit, invites us to reinvigorate our imagination by:

  1. Pursuing what intrinsically motives you. In my case, learning new things. In my husband’s case, travelling.
  2. Applying divergent thinking or exploring multiple solutions.

I want to reinvigorate my imagination!  Like the “oh so” famous game of imagining new uses for a paper clip, so my husband and I should imagine other uses for learning and travelling. We have evidence of our love for these activities. Thus, my goal is to create a list of 50 hobbies with potential to travel and learn.

To start, I googled “hobbies after 50”. I have never thought of this hobby: horology, the art of making clocks and watches. I love wearing watches; knowing how they work seems appealing to my learning bug. I even see myself and my husband travelling to conferences to meet like-minded people.

As Dickens said “take everything on evidence.” Like an entrepreneur that validates assumptions as early as possible I must try horology before retirement. Nancy L. Anderson, contributor for Forbes, writes “Practice retirement while you are still working. In fact, making a long, drawn-out transition to retirement could actually be part of your retirement plan.”

I will keep my vision of great expectations for retirement. The pieces of my puzzle will become smaller, and with sharper edges, once I decide what solutions to try. Those solutions that I like the most will be part of my tested retirement plan.

Visit this list from Wikipedia to feed your imagination, hobby-wise.

Let us know what novel ideas you come up with to expend your retirement’s leisure time.