In life transitions, there are 4 pillars that matter a great deal but are often overlooked.

Retirement planning, for example, often conjures up images of financial advisors, pension plans, and savings accounts. While securing your financial future is undeniably crucial, there’s a more personal, less discussed side to retirement planning that many women overlook.

I know I did.

But, here’s what I learned.

Retirement isn’t just about ending a career; it’s about beginning a new chapter of life. And while it’s critical to have your finances in order, that traditional approach of planning for a new chapter based entirely on your financial plan is severely lacking.

And it can be the same for a woman having an empty nest, losing a loved one, or moving to a new town. Because, fact is, life transitions mean significant changes, especially for women who have spent decades identifying with the roles they’ve had in their lives, homes, and careers.

Here are my four untold pillars of retirement planning no one tells women about, but should.

  1. Who Will I Be When I’m Not That Person Anymore?

For me, it was losing my identity as “Hydro Girl” when I retired from my career in the electric utility/hydropower industry after 30 years.

I know I’m not the only one. For many of us, our careers have significantly shaped our identities. I read about it in groups I’m in on Facebook, and I discuss it with women I have lunch or coffee with.

The transition to retirement can trigger a profound identity crisis. You’re no longer “that person” anymore. But, you’re also not sure who you are because your identity has been so wrapped up in who you used to be. This loss of identity can be daunting but also liberating.

When you’re staring into the unknown of a new chapter, if you can think of it as a blank canvas where you can redefine yourself beyond your career achievements, you’ll be able to rediscover old passions, explore new interests, and put your talent to work in new ways.

     2. What Do I Want to Do in My Next Chapter?

Retirement is often synonymously seen as the endgame, but with increased life expectancies, it’s really just a transition into another significant phase of life.

This phase can span decades, which means finding a new sense of purpose is vital. It’s time to think about what excites you, what causes you care about, or hobbies you’ve always wanted to pursue. Whether it’s writing a book, volunteering, traveling, or starting a small business, your next chapter is a time for personal growth and fulfillment, free from the constraints of living on someone else’s terms and schedule.

     3. How Will I Structure My Days?

Without the demands of a career (or carpooling, running a household, home schooling, or volunteering) dictating your schedule, the newfound freedom can be both thrilling and overwhelming.

The absence of structure can lead to feelings of boredom or floating aimlessly through life. Raise your hand if this is you! Because this was definitely me. 🙋🏼‍♀️

It drove me crazy.

When your old routine goes away, it’s essential to create a new structure that balances leisure with activities that provide a sense of achievement and purpose.

This could mean setting regular volunteer hours, taking classes, scheduling regular workouts, or even dedicating time each day to a long-term project. Structuring your days helps maintain a healthy mental and physical routine, ensuring your retirement years are not just long but rich and fulfilling as well.

     4. How Will I Find New Connections to Replace the Ones I Had in My Career?

This was significant for me because I spent 30 years in a male-dominated industry. I can probably count the number of female friends I had (and still have) on one hand.

Truth is, the social connections and daily interactions we have at work play a significant role in our lives, often more than we realize. Life transitions can strip away this network (sometimes from the moment you walk out the door). Losing that network leaves a void that isn’t easy to fill.

Think about it. It’s way more difficult to find friends as an adult because, for one thing, you’re not as active anymore. And, the pandemic and shift to online forums makes it even worse.

Building new relationships and finding communities with shared interests, however, is crucial to your overall health and well-being. Bottom line is that humans were designed for that interaction and connection. Not having it is what leads to loneliness and isolation.

But how do you find your people? Join clubs, engage in community services, find local meetups, or participate in group activities related to your hobbies. These new connections can provide the social fulfillment humans were designed to have and replace the ones you left behind in your career.

The journey into retirement or a new chapter is as much about finding new meanings and connections in life as it is about financial security. Because in reality, your financial plan isn’t retiring, you are.

Each of these four pillars plays a crucial role in transitioning from a career-focused identity to a new, fulfilling and purpose-driven chapter. Giving these personal aspects the attention they deserve as you face any life transition will help you design a new chapter that you can step gracefully and confidently into. My free resource dives a little deeper into these topics. Grab it here.