Most of us work all of our adult lives, look forward to retiring and then finally, retire. For many, retirement is wonderful for a while. Your time is your own after retirement. People travel a lot at first. But then, retirement loses its excitement. Many retirees feel unsatisfied and aimless. Some start to find ways to fill their time. They get jobs, take a class or two, and hang out at the senior center. Others find that their time is filled by the needs of relatives. Suddenly the retiree is babysitting. A lot. Or driving people everywhere. Or helping out in any number of ways. One day they realize that five years have passed, and their quality of life is not what they wanted when they envisioned retiring. Donít let that happen to you. The Golden Years can be just that, if you make it happen.
Start by thinking about what you want. I learned from my father, Josiah Phillips that itís never too late to recreate yourself. My father is a stage actor, and worked for the Ashland Shakespeare Festival in Oregon for 20 years. He retired, relaxed, ate what he wanted, and grew bored. He decided to go back to work but wasnít hired back. Dad spent the next year getting into shape by working out and taking yoga classes. In spite of the fact that he was a seasoned actor, he found a coach. Finally, he started meditating and setting goals. When auditions were held the following year, he was offered parts in three plays, including a significant role in one play. Itís not easy to be a senior competing for parts, but a senior that is focused and determined is tough competition!
Your goals might not have to do with work. You might be happy with your situation in most ways, but yearn for _______________ (fill in the blank). Almost anything is possible, but only if you take action. So whatís the first step? Take a personal retreat. I recommend that everyone do this, but I think itís especially important for a senior. No one has time to waste, but time is especially precious to seniors. As long as you are here and mentally healthy, you can improve the quality of your life.
Planning your personal retreat can be pretty simple. There are a number of ways to do it, and there are books, YouTube videos, and a number of sources online that can help you choose a style that will work for you. I prefer straightforward, simple retreats. I bring a few notebooks (each represents a different life area such as relationships, health, fun, continuing education, career, etc.) most years, but some years I just bring a single notebook. Sometimes I go to a retreat center and stay overnight. Sometimes I pull down my shades, turn off the phone, ignore Face book, and retreat at home. The goal is to take time alone, to think about you. Your life. Your desires. Where you want to be, and by when. What to put on your bucket list, and what can be crossed off. You might need to create a bucket list.
Where to start? Start by picking a date for your retreat. I like Fridays so that I can choose something special to kick off my ďnew yearĒ with some kind of special weekend activity. One year, my special weekend activity was to write in the local libraryís room that can be reserved for free by writers. It doesnít have to cost anything. It might be that you clean your pantry of junk, or toss your clothing you havenít worn for two or more years. It might be that you interview fitness coaches, or get a new haircut. Your activity just needs to support the decisions you made at your retreat. So you have a date. Now, create an agenda.
The agenda is basically a list, with times, of what will be covered during your day. I like to start at eight in the morning, and end at five in the evening, with a nice lunch at noon, and two breaks. The morning is started for me, by prayer and meditation. I then reflect on what is right in my life, and I journal about my gratitude. I look at what I want to improve in my life, or add to it. I review what has happened since my last retreat. Did I stick to my goals? Have my goals changed? What needs to be adjusted, or tossed out as a goal? Sometimes I have preplanned questions that will prompt me to write out answers and guide me to setting goals. I get those from retreat planning books. If you donít do personal retreats regularly, I would recommend preplanned questions. Some are more spiritual, others are more goal oriented. I like to combine the two most of the time, but some years a retreat might lean toward one or the other, depending on your needs. The retreat is all about you. Once youíve planned your agenda, itís time to follow through.
At the end of your retreat, take time to review what youíve committed to. Think of activities and people that will support you. What goals did you develop at the end of the day? When will you have another retreat? It might not be for another year. It might be in 90 days. You get to decide. But do it. Retreat, then advance into the life created by you.