Retirement is not just what’s in your wallet. But, chances are when you think of retirement planning, your mind automatically thinks about money, 401(k), and investments. That’s not surprising because we’ve been taught to think that a financial plan was all we needed to step into that chapter of life.

Retirement is an incredible milestone, filled with a multitude of emotions and changes. 

If you’re anything like me, that meant a milestone and transition filled with good emotions and positive, fun changes. But, I learned that doesn’t just happen if you’re planning for retirement the traditional way.

Most people start planning for this significant phase in life years well in advance of the actual event. I know I did. But the mistake I made was planning for retirement the traditional way, which meant focusing on the financial aspect of what life will be like after you walk out the corporate door. 

In reality, retirement planning is so much more than having a financial plan in place. Because a financial plan isn’t retiring. A person is. And, that requires planning from a holistic perspective using an approach that considers every facet of your life and the new lifestyle you’ll step into.

Now is the time to rethink retirement.

Not sure where to start? One way is to acknowledge the workforce changes and societal pressures that often accompany retirement in today’s world. The conventional model of getting an education, working for a set number of years, and retiring around the age of 65 to a life of leisure is changing. And, for some, it just doesn’t work that way anymore. 

Don’t get me wrong. The financial piece of the retirement puzzle must be in place. But, there are new considerations in planning from a financial perspective. First, people are healthier than ever before and are living longer lives nowadays, often extending well into two or three decades post-retirement. Women can also face unique challenges due to caregiving responsibilities for both children and aging parents that must be factored in. Finally, statistics show that women tend to have longer life expectancies than men, meaning their retirement savings must cover an extended period. 

But, there are other pieces of the puzzle that need just as much attention. For many women, the most significant challenge lies in the loss of identity that retirement may bring. Careers often constitute a substantial part of one’s identity and purpose, and stepping away from them can leave women feeling uncertain and disconnected from their sense of self.

It may surprise you to discover that it is entirely possible to shift your mindset from one of loss to one of opportunity. This transformation begins by understanding the inner workings of your mind.

Our minds are extraordinary, intricate entities that reside within our brains. They possess a unique consciousness and feelings that no other organ in our bodies can claim. While we cannot physically see our minds like we can our brains, they work in tandem, determining our reactions, decision-making processes, creativity, initiative, and thought processing.

To tap into the power of our minds, we must comprehend the conscious and the subconscious. The conscious mind governs our logical and analytical thinking, while the subconscious mind acts as a vast library, housing all our life experiences, emotions, and memories.

When we operate on autopilot, we effectively function from the subconscious mind, drawing from the vast library of past experiences and emotions, both positive and negative. A lot of that library was built on the past experiences, thoughts, and emotions of our career. All that changes when you retire. Some of the books that are on your library shelves are now like outdated cookbooks, and if you are using old recipes with ingredients you can no longer get or if you are lingering in the past, yearning for what is no longer attainable, you may feel lost, confused, and trapped.

During my personal experience with this sense of identity loss, I mistakenly believed that something was inherently wrong with me. In reality, I discovered that many women face similar challenges, especially during transitional phases. They may feel too old to pursue their dreams or uncertain about the meaning of pursuing dreams altogether. They may feel like they have nothing more to offer the world when nothing could be further from the truth.

These are false beliefs that hinder us from uncovering our true, authentic selves and finding fulfillment in retirement. By engaging our conscious minds, we can gain profound insights into our thoughts and emotions, and begin to challenge any negative or limiting beliefs that hold us back. Shifting our mindset to one of opportunity paves the way for an entire realm of possibilities, aligning us with our genuine identities. (Hint: it’s not tied to the identity we had during our career.)

This newfound mindset empowers us to embark on a transformative journey. But how do we take the next step? 

While numerous approaches can aid us in this process (which I’ll delve into further in my upcoming Next Chapter Plan™ Academy), here are some ideas to initiate your journey:

  1. Mindfulness meditation: This practice involves focusing our attention on the present moment, observing our thoughts and feelings without judgment. Mindfulness meditation has proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and increase self-awareness.
  2. Journaling: Putting our thoughts and feelings into writing allows us to process and gain a deeper understanding of our minds. We can try free-writing or use prompts to guide our introspection.
  3. Creative activities: Engaging in creative pursuits like painting, drawing, or writing can unlock our conscious minds and enable us to express our thoughts and emotions in new ways. Even if we don’t consider ourselves inherently “creative,” exploring something new can provide access to our conscious minds.
  4. Self-reflection: Allocating time to reflect on our experiences, values, and goals allows us to develop a more profound understanding of ourselves and our motivations. Whether through journaling or merely setting aside moments each day for introspection, self-reflection is a valuable tool.

Venturing into new territories and taking risks may seem daunting, but the rewards can be extraordinary. It’s never too late to learn, adopt a new hobby, or pursue a passion that’s been brewing within us. By embracing opportunities beyond our comfort zones, we challenge ourselves and uncover fresh avenues that were previously unexplored.

Having the right mindset is crucial.

By comprehending the workings of our minds and accessing our creativity and conscious thoughts, we can challenge false beliefs and discover our inner strengths and passions. These discoveries will contribute to a retirement filled with growth, fulfillment, and happiness. If we perceive retirement as an exciting new chapter in our lives and take control of our thoughts and actions, the transition becomes a time of profound transformation.

My blogs, Amazon best-selling book, and the upcoming Next Chapter Plan™ Academy are resources designed to assist you in changing the way you think about and plan for retirement. Join me in reimagining retirement by signing up for the blog and getting on the Academy waitlist. I’d be honored to share my experiences and life lessons with you and be your guide as you plan for retirement from a “whole person” perspective.