Re-Imagining retirement: Transformation…all around us

Sharon Rolph

Transformational forces are all around us.

In the spring, what appears dead, comes alive again as the daylight lengthens and the air is warmed by the sun. As new relationships happen in our neighborhoods, fast friends come alive with shared fun, food and experiences. As my humble efforts are invested in bringing people with similar interests together blossoms, community is strengthened.

The process of change sometimes starts with the smallest effort: a smile, a good deed, a favor. Or, it may be sparked by a request, a need or an expressed hope.

As us Baby Boomers face our retirement season without a title, or a place to go daily, a team to collaborate with, or something to create, make, or accomplish, it may feel like What Happened to the life I knew?!!

Do you feel lost? Are you bouncing off the wall, since the pace has changed? Freedom can be d.a.u.n.t.i.n.g, can’t it?

Now comes the real challenge of our mental, emotional and social aspects of life — who are you without a title, a team, a task or a customer to serve? This is where you need to actively think, try new things, and involve yourself in creating your new perspective to transform yourself in this new season. The structure of the life you knew is gone. It’s now up to you, alone. Be it playing, exploring, traveling, gardening, fishing or singing.

Your ripe age has brought you wisdom and experiences. Are you mentoring your grandchildren, and remembering how to play again?

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to transform your life, in retirement.

Why? To live longer! To be engaged with a meaningful purpose. To be happier! Our world needs you — to mentor, to pass your wisdom on, to be a public servant/volunteer, to be there for others in need. To combat isolation, which often leads to depression. To fend off boredom!

You create the rules. (How funny it was, in the About Schmidt movie, when he realized there could be new rules, after a significant life event.)

Should you live this long without having any hobby or favorite pastime, this challenge can be very significant. After all, you’ve invested lots of hours, and overtime (?), to put a roof over your family, put the kids through college and have a couple memorable vacations over your career.

What helps here is to ponder a few questions that may help you remember your unique dreams from years past. Give yourself a few weeks or months to ponder. Give your subconscious or dreams an assignment to help you recall. Could be you always you wanted to be known for something. Did you always want to learn an instrument? What deep inner longing have you had? What part of you is asking to be seen or heard?

Now, another valuable key to your transformation is recalling what you have enjoyed doing and felt you did well. You are the only judge here. Could be something from your youth, teens or your adult years. Could be something from school, work, hobbies or sports. One is good, but recalling a short/long list could help you see a pattern. Watch for your role, what was meaningful, what you were doing and your results.

How great it is having a schedule you own, when you retire. How beautiful when you make choices that make your heart sing, where you live your joy, and put your whole heart into your remaining years. What a legacy!

Transformation of life. A new season. A contribution that warms your heart and strengthens your community as a result.

— By Sharon Rolph

Sharon Rolph is a 25-plus-year resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds and earned her masters degree in applied behavioral science and bachelor’s degree in administration from City University. Her career includes many years at GTE and Boeing in Everett and Tukwila. She presents What Do I Want to Do in Retirement? Connecting with Purpose in Retirement workshops at senior center. The next one is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. March 6 at the Lynnwood Senior Center, 19000 44th Ave. W., in Lynnwood. She is also available to speak to groups or businesses.

  1. Oops! I found out yesterday that there was a misstep on the Lynnwood Senior Center date. Mark your calendar for next week, Tuesday March 6th at 2:30 for the next What Do I Want to Do in Retirement? workshop.

  2. It’s a transition that needs careful attention to detail so it can be healthy and not unhealthy.

    Finding a mission in life is similar and enjoying those who share that mission and vision is even better…avoiding those who don’t…to be sure.

  3. Lots to think about here…loneliness and depression are often the unseen hazards of retirement or any major loss in your life. Getting involved in a new life style is often the answer, and being a volunteer in the areas of your interest is a good way to start. Who knows where it will lead, who you will meet, and what you will learn? It can be a gift unto itself. Edmonds has many opportunities for volunteers, the Edmonds Museum Summer Market, Cascadia Art Museum, CRI and the list goes on. Follow your instincts and volunteer in an area that best suits your philosophy and your interests. It is a journey worth taking.

  4. Excellent article Sharon. Very good advice about the questions to ask yourself as you go through the process of transformation to a fulfilling retirement.

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