As you start the journey of retirement, it's a good time to consider what you want to be "when you grow up." What is your dream for retirement? What are the joys and challenges that may help or hinder you in making your dream come true?
Many of us have an image of what an ideal retirement looks like, but when we actually retire, we may discover that image doesn't actually reflect our interests or skills. For example, people often talk about traveling in retirement, but you may find it is not as appealing to you as you thought it would be.
In this section, we will discuss the steps you can take to refine your dream so that your retirement is more enjoyable and rewarding.
"Is the life I am living the life that wants to live in me?" — Parker Palmer
Identify Your Passion
The first step in creating your life plan for retirement is to identify those activities and interests that make you feel happy, alive, and invigorated. Ask yourself:
- When in my life have I felt truly alive?
- What was I doing at that time?
- What talents, skills, and gifts are most recognized by others in my life?
- Are they related to what I was doing when I felt so alive?
- What was I doing when I thought, "If only I could do this for the rest of my life?"
Discern Your Vision
Now that you have identified the activities that bring "life" to your life, you should develop your "vision" by setting goals to help you to live your vocation and have a fulfilling retirement.
- Look at the different aspects of your life — family, career, finance, community, and spiritual.
- Review them and evaluate the time you are spending on each.
- Determine how you would like to spend your time. What aspects are your priorities? What do you want to accomplish?
- Envision what your life would be like if you spent your time on your priorities.
Set Your Goals
Now that you have a vision, it's time to set your goals.
- Determine what you want to accomplish in the next couple of years. Make sure that the accomplishments are realistic and specific - and that you are enthusiastic about reaching these goals. Are they your passion?
- Write down at least three goals.
- Identify family, friends, and resources that will help you achieve your goals.
- Identify challenges that you will face so that you will be prepared to deal with them.
- Enlist the support of your family and friends. They will encourage you, help you, and hold you accountable for your goals.
- Evaluate your progress toward your goals on a regular basis.
- Envision your success and enjoy the journey!
Practice Your Spirituality
Now that you have discerned your vision continuing to engage your spiritual side can help you bring it to life. Your spiritual self can be a source of strength and purpose. When you are undergoing major changes in your life, it can be easy to forget to pray to seek spiritual counseling, to attend corporate worship. Spiritualty is much like physical activity, if we don’t use it we can lose it. In retirement clergy can explore spiritual questions and practices that were not possible while leading a community.
- What spiritual practice would you want to reengage in?
- How do you want to live as a spiritual being in retirement?
Redefine Your Vocation
Even in retirement, we continue our ministry. While you may not be serving in a parish, your ministry can touch and help many people. Explore the options available to you — working with people in need in your community, assisting in the parish or diocese, or missionary work. Keeping involved with the church in retirement can help you redefine your vocation. Many retirees find serving on diocesan committees, boards, assisting in a local congregation, not-for profit institution can help clarify their identity as a priest in retirement.