I loved Serena Williams explanation of how she sees her next act. Williams indicated her intention to retire in a Vogue article in early August, saying she was “evolving away from tennis.”
Retirement coaches and the media have been struggling with what to call the new retirement. Longevity of 20+ years post career has made the idea of retirement outdated. Terms like “unretired,” “rewired,” “next act,” “third act,” have all been suggested.
Evolving is such a beautiful way to look at the life we are living after we step away from our full-time careers. That is what my clients are doing as part of the What’s Next coaching program. In each cohort you can almost feel the relief when they realize that they can let go of their “shoulds” and the preconceived ideas of what retirement is supposed to be like. Retirement is a time of transition, a time of reflection. It is an opportunity to evolve into the person you want to be, maybe for the first time in your life.
The Wall Street Journal published an article on Wed. 8/31, written by Veronica Dagher titled “Retirement Planning Means More Than Saving in Your 401(k).” In it she talks about how retirees struggle with the loss of structure and routine. Friends that used to be part of our work environment disappear. We struggle to find fulfillment in golf or watching the grandkids, without other interests or purpose in our lives.
We spent our early years following the path of school, choosing a career, buying a house, raising a family. If we lost a job, we generally did not take a lot of time to ask ourselves if the next opportunity was something we really wanted to do. We just took it. We developed life skills and career skills, but we did not develop the skill of managing unstructured time. We may have put an interest or passion on the back burner and now we don’t know how to reignite it.
To evolve means to develop over a period of time into something different and usually more advanced. There is a period of transition that takes place after we leave our full-time careers. Ideally, we will allow ourselves time in the Neutral Zone. This is where the evolution happens. We may feel like we are wandering in a wilderness of unknowns. Who am I now? Who do I want to be? What is my purpose? I am not ready to be “old.” How much time do I have left? Slowly, over a period of time, we begin to discover, evolve, into newer versions of ourselves. Versions that are fulfilling, versions that contribute to our communities and our families, versions that recognize the importance of self-care.
Let’s look at Carla’s story. She thought she was ready to retire. Financially her house was in order. Her parents had recently moved into a senior living facility, and she knew she would need some time to support them emotionally. She does not have children, so the pull of grandchildren was not there. She had been a solopreneur for many years and was hesitant to give up her practice. But she did want to slow down and spend more time with her husband. She also thought she wanted more adventure in her life, maybe travel to exotic locations to do volunteer work. When she actually stepped back long enough to really exam how she wanted to evolve, she realized that adventure travel was not really for her, and there was a part of her work that really excited her. She wanted to continue that work.
Carla is evolving and accepting who she is completely. She is building more time into her life for healthy activities and time with her husband. She is continuing to stay energized with some of her work but has let some of the other pieces of her practice go. It is an evolution, and her life will continue to evolve as she decides she wants it to.
That is the beauty of this stage of life. We have choices to live life with passion, live life with relevance and live life with courage. We get to evolve.
In what ways are you evolving?
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