Retirement. A destination or a new start?
For years, it was a distant destination on the horizon, a finish line to cross after decades of hard work and dedication. Little did I know that this supposed “finish line” was actually the beginning of a remarkable journey that would redefine my sense of purpose, creativity, and self-discovery.
As I stood on the brink of retirement, excitement mingled with uncertainty. After years of crafting congressional testimony, marketing materials, and press releases for an electric utility company, I was ready for a change. Yet, as the days turned into months and then years, I found myself feeling adrift, like a ship without a compass.
For about two years, I was lost in the sea of retirement. The routine I had known for so long vanished, leaving behind an emptiness I struggled to fill. I had planned financially, I had prepared for the practical aspects, but I hadn’t prepared for the emotional and existential shift that retirement would bring. Who was I without the corporate titles, the meetings, the carefully crafted communications? The woman I had known for decades suddenly felt like a stranger in the mirror.
Thinking about it from the perspective of a new start wasn’t on my mind.
During those uncertain years, I delved into various hobbies and activities, hoping to find something that would reignite the spark within me. But nothing seemed to fit. It was as if I was trying on different masks, hoping one of them would help me recognize myself again.
I felt disconnected from the world around me, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing something crucial – something that would give me a sense of purpose beyond the roles I had played in the corporate world.
Then, one day, it hit me – I wasn’t lost; I was on a journey of self-discovery. I realized that I needed to peel away the layers that had accumulated over the years, the layers that hid my true authentic self. I needed to uncover the woman who loved to write, who had always been drawn to the power of words, who had woven stories in journals long before she ever crafted corporate communications.
Aha! Finally, a new start!
As I embraced this realization, I began to unearth my zone of genius – that intersection of passions and strengths that was uniquely mine. I dusted off my creative writing aspirations, which had been relegated to the sidelines for far too long. With trepidation and excitement, I put pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keyboard) and let my imagination run free. The process was liberating, cathartic, and deeply fulfilling.
The first book I wrote after leaving my career emerged as a labor of love, a testament to the creativity that had been lying dormant within me. I wrote a history book during my career, but that experience was very different. While both were a labor of love, with this one the words flowed effortlessly, and I realized that this was where I truly belonged. My blogs became a canvas for my thoughts, my travels, and my reflections, resonating with readers who connected with the authenticity of my voice.
But my journey didn’t stop there. Four years ago, we drove from Washington state to Oklahoma to collect our fourth Bouvier des Flandres. On the drive home, I started Alli’s Adventure Log and we still entertain others on social media with her weekly adventures. She has quite a following.
And, I’m getting ready to launch an online course I’ve created (based on my Amazon best-selling book) to help other women plan for retirement from more than just a financial perspective so they can design and live their next, best chapter. Because I believe I’m not the only one just getting started.
Oh, and Alli’s Adventure Log? Who knows? That may turn into a children’s book one day.
The bottom line? It wasn’t until I went on a journey of self-discovery and discovered my true zone of genius that I was able to tap into my writing skills in unexpected ways. Now, I say that my retirement is just a new chapter filled with creativity and purpose. And, I’m having a lot of fun doing it.
Looking back, I realized that it took those two years of feeling lost to truly find myself. Retirement wasn’t an ending; it was a gateway to new beginnings, a chance to redefine my identity on my terms. My corporate communications career was just one chapter of my story; the chapters that followed are going to be filled with the colors of creativity, the power of storytelling, and the joy of embracing my authentic self.
Yes, I’m just getting started.
So, if you’re nearing retirement and feeling that sense of uncertainty, know that it’s okay. The journey of self-discovery and a new start takes time, and it’s a journey worth embarking on. Don’t be afraid to peel away the layers and uncover your true passions, talents, and dreams. As I learned, your retirement is not the end; it’s just the beginning of a remarkable adventure that you have the power to shape. Embrace your zone of genius, and watch as your retirement unfolds into a masterpiece of your own creation.
The pen is in your hands.
Need a first step in your new start? I’ve got a free, fun Zone of Genius quiz that might help. You can take it here. And, if you’re not on the waitlist for the Retirement Reimagined™ Academy, you can find that here.