Have you really “planned” for your retirement?
When reading that question, does your mind jump automatically to financial planning? It does for most people. Yet this is actually a very limited view of what will bring us the joy, richness and satisfaction we really want from our “golden years,” right?
While financial planning is definitely important, I believe it should be about 1/10 of your retirement planning process. The lion’s share needs to be planning for the kind of life you want to lead. I call it retirement “life visioning.” Your finances then naturally follow, as a way of supporting you in fulfilling that vision.
Why is retirement life visioning so important?
We are all facing a certain reality: some day we will be at the end of our lives. And as we age, we see the signs of this reality appearing daily. Whether it’s brown spots on our hands, stiffness in our joints (that our doctor says is “just old age”) or a host of other signs that our body is aging and breaking down, it’s a wake-up call that we’re in the second half of life.
Thus retirement is a paradoxical time. On the one hand, we have worked for many years, perhaps quite intensively, and it is time to lay down the burden of work and find ‘more living’ in our retirement. On the other, it is also the final stage of our active life – and thus time for us to decide what it is we really want. In other words, how to make it as meaningful as possible and contribute something to the world we will leave after we die.
So how can we create a life in retirement that is meaningfully active, yet at the same time in a completely different flow and pace from traditional work?
I have been applying myself to that question for over 16 years, both for myself and for my clients. I have been fascinated with exploring what it takes to shift out of the machine-like, work-a-holism of traditional work-life – and shift into world-engaged activity centered in well-being, joy and play.
“What will my legacy be?”
We often think of “legacy” as something we will give or leave to those who come after us. But I’d like to flip that idea for a moment… and think about what it is that we will give ourselves in the retirement years of our lives.
From an early age, I felt that I was born with a special purpose; to do and be ‘way more’ than what most people expected of me. Yet this was often not supported by others. And it hurt. What I discovered is that our culture does not encourage us to be big. It usually encourages us to be “appropriate” or “acceptable.” And when we express those larger, deeper or grander parts of ourselves, we tend to be shamed – and as a result we keep ourselves smaller than who we really are.
Thus I believe that our legacy begins with the unique and infinite way that we were born to be. The more we connect with that, the more we are able to give to and leave for others. That’s what I want for myself. It’s what I want for you. And that’s what my program is about.
Legacy + Play
What came out of my 16-year exploration is a program I’ve called “Golden Years Legacy Play.” It’s a 14-week process that gently and playfully leads people in a deeply caring and courageous journey to discover their core legacy. I use the word “core” because this process goes deeper than most self-help programs.
By way of background, I was brought up in a Tibetan Buddhist community. I’ve been meditating since a young child and practicing tantric Buddhism all of my adult life. This cultural heritage has gifted me with experiences of going deep in retreats that I have done every year since I was a teen. It has also given me an understanding of how to skilfully engage intensity from a place of deep compassion. This is something I bring into my Golden Years Legacy Play approach, so as to show how with gentleness and playful creativity, we can move beyond our deepest fears about seeing who we really are.
The journey of uncovering your true legacy is aptly seen as a hero’s journey. It is a beautiful journey of diving beneath the surface of everyday life to seek out and claim your true inner knowing. Once claimed, you can then bring your legacy back up into the world. In the Golden Legacy program, that is what we do first. Afterwards, you will then be guided to scope out practical, doable steps to activate your inner legacy through how you organize, engage and live your everyday life.
It is at this point that meeting with your financial planner can make a lot of sense, to explore how best to use your financial resources to live your legacy. But it can be more than just living on a fixed and limited income. In fact, all of the people I have worked with 1-on-1 in this approach have opened up private consulting services, where they now offer their deep passions to the world and get paid well for it. The income from legacy service is something that should also be included in retirement financial planning.
Home-Play, instead of Home-Work
One of my most joy-filled accomplishments in 2017 is writing the Golden Years Legacy Play Workbook. This workbook guides readers through a sequence of 14 weekly “homeplays.” (In the spirit of shifting out of work mentality, that’s what I call these exercises rather than homework!) These homeplays are there to guide you through the complete process of discovering your legacy and planning practical ways of living into it.
The Golden Years Legacy Play Workbook can make a meaningful New Year gift for yourself or someone you care about. It’s available at: https://www.amazon.com
All the best in your “retirement planning”!
Andrea M. Winn
P.S. If some idea here has intrigued you or sparked your curiosity/interest, I welcome the opportunity to connect. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(I’d like to thank Eric Hellman for his ideas in helping me write/edit this article.)