QI'm afraid of flunking retirement -- that I'll be bored and at loose ends. Out of necessity, my main focus during my working years has been my job. Now that retirement is approaching, I'm ready to spend my time on other things. The problem is, I haven't had time to develop other interests and I'm not sure what I'll do with myself. Where should I start?
AThink widely about different options and have some objectives to achieve so that you have a bit of structure.
The inner game
First of all, anchor yourself in a feeling of abundance -- that there is a wide variety of interesting activities to explore so that you're primed to see possibilities. It can be easy to get stuck in not knowing what to do, so if you find yourself doing that, reshift your perspective. Also get yourself comfortable with the idea of being a beginner at things, so that the learning process isn't as daunting.
In terms of options, there are many spheres of life to explore, and not all will be equal appealing. As you consider possibilities, have in mind many areas, such as intellectual, artistic, physical, community engagement, spiritual and social.
Now, take some quiet time to reflect back. When you were a kid, what was fun? When you've heard co-workers talk about their weekends, which interests have intrigued you? What have you wished you had time for?
Then select one area to start. Let's use "intellectual" as an example. Make a list of all of the intellectual pursuits that draw you. Maybe your list includes studying astronomy, Italian, nutrition -- the list could go on and on. Then take on, say, astronomy, and list the ways you could do that: auditing college classes, classes on DVD, reading, getting involved at a local science museum. You get the idea. Use this approach to open your perspective on opportunities, and create a list of new things you'd like to do.
The outer game
Even before you retire, you can start making plans to pursue these activities. Using your list, pick two or three to start with. Then outline your starting point and goals for each.
For example, you might decide that, once you're retired, you want to become more physically fit. What are your options? Join a gym, start walking every day, play tennis with a friend -- whatever it is, figure out ways that appeal to you and be ready to pursue them once you have more time. Want to learn to cook a new cuisine? Get involved in politics? Volunteer in a school? Think about concrete ways to get started.
Find sources of support. The loss of social connections can surprise people when they leave the workplace, so be prepared to develop new ones.
Plan some structure. The shift out of a defined environment and schedule can be liberating, but also can lead to paralysis in terms of knowing how to use your time. Anticipate that and plan for what a successful day will include.
The last word
You're on the verge of a big change, but a positive attitude, some planning, and taking action once the time comes will help you have a successful transition.