Transforming Your Retirement: Introducing Vision Boards to Achieve Your Dreams

As you are transforming your retirement into a joyful and fulfilling time, you need tools to help you focus on your goals and dreams. Too often we think of goal setting and creating big changes in your life as requiring lists and deadlines – the kind of things we might want to leave behind as we transition from structured jobs and careers.
We look at that list of dates and to-dos and we’re instantly overwhelmed with the enormity of it all, so we file it away for “later.” And often “later” will be never. So looking for other tools is a great idea. We have dreams of how our retirement years can be, and that’s what vision boards are all about: dreaming. In fact they are sometimes called dream boards.

Rather than a bland calendar or spreadsheet with dates and impressive sounding goals on them, vision boards give you the creativity to let your dreams grow. It is a visual tool that helps you feel the achievement of your goals and dreams. That’s the real power of a vision board.

What Exactly is a Vision Board?

It’s a collection of images, quotes and symbols that have meaning to you and which represent your life as you would like it to be. Vision boards come in many different formats, both digital and physical. We’ll talk more about that later, but for now, let’s take a look at the components of vision boards.

Images. By far the most common item on vision boards are images: photos, drawings, mind maps, sketches or anything else that has some meaning for you. For example, if world travel is one of your goals, you might include photos of historic landmarks you want to visit, or airplanes or ships (imagine the feeling of freedom associated with those).

Motivational messages. Your vision board might include messages you see posted on social media, phrases you read and jot down in your journal, or even testimonials from your clients or nice things others have said about you. Anything that’s motivational to YOU.

Inspiring quotes. Inspiration is different for everyone, and the sources are endless. You probably already have favorite quotes; expand those by doing Google searches by topic or by person.

Everything else. What else inspires or motivates you? The blue ribbon your grandmother’s quilt won at the state fair? A small vial of sand from that secluded beach you’ll retire to someday? Vision boards can include these treasures as well. You just might have to be a little creative when it comes to adding them.

Transforming your retirement calls for new tools like Vision Boards. See additional posts for more specifics on how to create and use them.

Transforming Your Retirement: What if My Current Relationships Improve and I Create New Ones Regularly?

It’s easy to get in a rut with our relationships over the years. We may not even notice what had evolved into comfortable, known patterns are now more of a rut. As we individually travel down our life journey, our needs change but our relationships don’t always evolve along with them. If we haven’t moved or changed jobs for many years, our circle of friends, co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances may not have changed too much.

As we change our status from employed to retired, it dramatically affects our relationships. Let’s look at some of those relationships, how they will change, and how to re-create them during this time of change.

Relationships with Your Spouse or Whoever Lives in Your Home with You

You will likely be spending much more time with the people in your household during retirement even if they still go to a job each day. Take some time before you retire if possible to discuss what this change will mean for all of you. Here are some topics you may want to look at.

+ Household maintenance responsibilities. What are your expectations of how that will change; what are theirs? Especially if they still go to a job, their expectations may be that you will have time to do all of the cleaning, cooking, etc. That may not be your expectation. Discuss this and negotiate if necessary.
+ Household expenses and budget. Be sure you’re on the same page about this as soon as possible.
+ Any hints that there are new issues caused by your new status. Raise them sooner rather than later. This can be an exciting time of reformulating and renewing your relationship.

Relationships with Other Family Members

You’ve probably anticipated that family members who are still working will be thinking or saying, “S/he is retired now; s/he can do that.” It may be planning the next family gathering, taking a larger share of caretaking or support for an elderly relative, taking care of grandchildren or other children in the family…you get the idea. To minimize the friction about such issues, be proactive in informing family members what your intentions are as you move into retirement. Let them know what you will be doing with “all that time.” If you are willing to take on some additional things as noted above, say that also. If there are not-so-positive responses, it’s better to work them out early than to have tension and negativity. Invite them to celebrate your new status and plans. You will also be modeling how they can make the transition themselves

Relationships with Your Former Co-Workers

You probably spent more hours with them in a given week than with any of your friends and perhaps even family members, and now they will be outside of your daily orbit. At the farewell lunch or party, you will probably talk about getting together regularly as a group or at least with a few of your closest friends. This can be a good transition strategy for you because abruptly cutting off all of those relationships can be an emotional loss. Unless you are leaving under negative circumstances, keeping some contact with the organization and the work may be a positive move.
As you continue relationships, be alert for any signs that this has become an obligation on either side rather than a genuine desire for contact. If this happens, you have a couple of choices: decrease the frequency of get-togethers or together redefine your relationship. Rather than the occasional lunch during a workday which tends to put the meeting in the context of work, do something else together in the evening or on the weekend. Develop new shared experiences this way.

Relationships with Friends Outside the Workplace

Maybe you have retired friends who will assume that you are free and ready to spend lots of additional time with them now. If you agree on that, great! If you want to spend your time differently than they do, however, here’s another opportunity for early direct communication. Have a conversation focused on your transition to retirement, your plans and dreams and how your relationship with them fits into that. You will build the foundation of the next phase of your relationship and could even inspire them to be more intentional about their retirement lives.
As you are transforming your retirement into that joyful, meaningful time, you will also meet new people and form new relationships. This can be one of the greatest parts of these years.

Transforming Your Retirement: What if You Generated Any Needed Income in Creative, Fun, Fulfilling Ways?

It is very possible that a significant number of baby boomer retirees will need to generate additional income during retirement. As the economy has had ups and downs, savings, investments and pensions have been affected. Companies have even reneged on promised pensions and paid health to retirees. Others were already low on savings and had inadequate pensions.

Transforming your retirement may include some income-generating activity so that you can afford to do the things you most want to do. One of the most important mindset issues is to replace concern, fear and worry with positive expectation and belief that there are many more ways to earn income than we realize.

Part time jobs fit some people’s needs; independent work rather than an hourly job will be appealing to many of you. You can be a consultant, a virtual assistant, a writer, or have your own business – online or offline, brick and mortar or virtual, free standing or direct sales through network marketing, to name a few options.

Once you have expanded your horizons about what the range of possibilities are, the challenge is to determine the best match for you. Let’s examine some possibilities.

Using your knowledge and skills to earn money

Grab your handy notebook or computer file and do the following:
Make a chart (if doing by hand) or spreadsheet (on computer) that has the following cells listed vertically in the left column:

1) Knowledge & skills acquired through your employment
2) Knowledge & skills you’ve acquired through hobbies
3) Knowledge & skills acquired through volunteer involvement and community participation
4) Knowledge & skills you’d like to acquire in areas of your interest and then share with others

Then put the following horizontally across the top of the chart or spreadsheet:

1) Ways that you could share this information (for example, teach community education classes; write books or ebooks; provide workshops, teleclasses, webinars; be a consultant; etc.)
2) Places, venues or contacts that may provide places for you to do this and earn money (for example, specific community colleges in your area, your city school district community education, your church or other churches, online publishing, online radio or podcasts, etc.)

Start with what you can think of right now and continue to fill it in and expand it as you explore more possibilities. This chart or spreadsheet can be a resource and inspiration for you for a long time.

Virtual Work

Another way to use your skills is to provide products and services from your computer that others need. You can work at home or practically anywhere you can access high speed internet. There are thousands of Virtual Administrative Assistants who provide administrative support for solo entrepreneurs and small businesses, including website construction and maintenance, online marketing and more. These can be long or short term jobs. I did support work for the church I worked for in Minnesota for a year and a half after I moved to California: newsletters, bulletins, board meeting minutes and PowerPoint presentations. There are a number of websites where you can learn more about this type of work. Search for “virtual assistant.”

Direct Sales/Network Marketing

Direct selling through network marketing has become a recognized business model that is used by many large corporations and endorsed by financial experts. It is a viable option for many people in this economy and well worth exploring.

There are hundreds of network marketing company options and it can be very difficult to decide which company to choose. One resource to assist you with this is:
http://entrepreneurs.about.com/od/networkmarketingmlm/a/10tipstopicknwm.htm

Affiliate Sales Online

Affiliate Sales basically means selling other people’s products. You can sign up for many affiliate programs, free of charge, and earn a commission for selling products that are made available through that affiliate program. This is a well-established way of earning money and you can do it in areas that are of particular interest to you. You can be an affiliate for companies that sell “hard” products – books, appliances, tools, jewelry, etc. – or information products online. There is a huge amount of information available to help you get started and be effective. You can begin with Amazon.com Associate Program. The commissions are low, but the wide range of products makes it very attractive. They provide lots of affiliate resources also.

These are some of the possible ways you can generate money to augment your income as you are transforming your retirement. As you begin your exploration, start by looking at what you enjoy doing.

Transforming Your Retirement: What if I left a stunning legacy to my family and others?

Most of us want to make a difference in the world; we want to leave a legacy behind. As you move toward or into this period of transforming your retirement, it is an ideal time to take time to both reflect on your life so far and look forward to what you want to add to your legacy in the years ahead.

There are different kinds of legacies, including:
1) how you are remembered as a person – your personality, the way you treated others, what people saw in you and learned from you;
2) the work you did and the impact it had on others,
3) the family you left behind,
4) contributions of time, energy, creativity and finances that enriched others, and more.

Perhaps you think it’s too late at this stage of your life to do anything about it. “Que sera, sera; whatever will be, will be.” That’s simply not true. Although you can’t go back and do things over, you do have the ability to interpret and draw meaning from your life so far and to add to your legacy. That can benefit both you and those who view you and your life now and in the future.

Perhaps you are thinking now that this seems self-centered and presumptuous. But consider this. We live in times where celebrities of various kinds have become the primary role models for many people. Our electronic media of all kinds have become the purveyors of values and significance. Too much information, much of it trivial, has blocked out the truly meaningful messages about life, contribution, family and legacy.

You have the ability and, dare I say, the responsibility to make your contribution to changing this sad state of affairs! Too many of our younger people seem to have little interest in what has happened in the past, either in the society and the world or in their own families. This should not stop us from doing our part. Each of us has a unique experience that is given to us as a gift and can be given as a gift to others.

It may be of immediate interest to your family; it may not. It may take years – even decades or centuries – for someone to sincerely look for who you were and what your life was about. If you haven’t documented that in a way that can be saved and accessed, it is lost.

I suggest that you do some legacy work, first of all for yourself – to look at this precious journey and what it has meant to you – and secondly, to influence and communicate the legacies you leave behind. It can be a significant part of transforming your retirement into a time of joy and fulfillment.

Transforming Your Retirement: What If the Next Phase of Your Spiritual/Faith Journey is Invigorating and Joyful?

It’s my belief that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. Although we may experience it differently, we are all on some kind of spiritual/faith journey during our life on earth. That journey can be a key part of transforming our retirement.

As we age, we often have more questions about this journey and where it is leading. It may be that you are happily settled where you are, or you may be apathetic or bored, or you may be actively looking for something more, or you are in an expansive stage in relation to your faith/spirituality.

The first step is to get a sense of where you are and what you are thinking and feeling. Describe your spiritual/faith journey over the past 3-5 years. Consider these to help you put it together:
+ level of participation in an organized faith community, if any
+ any change in your beliefs or participation
+ any exploration of practice or beliefs outside of your particular faith community
+ any significant events, positive or negative
+ any new revelations or new questions that are significant to you                              + Gaps, emptiness or needs you are feeling spiritually

When you’ve completed the snapshot, rate your level of satisfaction with where you are in your spiritual/faith journey right now. Use a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “bored or dissatisfied,” 8 being “extremely satisfied” and 10 being “joyful and growing.”

If your ratings are between 8 and 10, congratulations! You are in a good place on your journey. And you can always expand your options and involvement if you want to be even more joyful and growing!

If you have ratings that are less than 8, I suggest that you take three additional steps:
1) Write down anything with which you are not satisfied and what’s missing that lowered your rating. This may take some reflection; take your time and perhaps come back to it later to allow some thoughts and feelings to surface.

2) Next, take some time to write down exactly what you would find satisfying and meaningful in the coming years of your spiritual/faith journey. Use the “What if….” format to create statements like, “What if I found/created a faith or spiritual community where I experienced genuine love and community?” or “What if could find ways to heal my church/religion-caused wounds from the past?”

3) After creating your list, choose the one about which you feel most strongly. Come up with some possibilities of how to make that happen, beginning now. As time goes on, do the same with the rest of your list. Enjoy some new exploration and excitement as your faith journey continues – which can be a major part of transforming your retirement.

Transforming Your Retirement: What if You Made Significant Contributions of Many Kinds to Family, Community and the World?

Most of us wish we had been able to do more for our family and friends than our time and resources allowed in our working years. Perhaps you have experienced, as I have, an interest and desire to get involved in and make contributions to community projects and organizations and respond to needs and issues in other parts of the world.

The first step is to look at what you really would like to contribute so that your creativity can get to work on the “how.” Let’s start with a “blue sky” step.

Write down what you would like to contribute, if there were no limitation of resources, to each of the following categories. Think in terms of time, money, expertise, and anything else you might offer:
+ to your family and close friends
+ to causes that are dear to you (specify your priority causes)
+ to your community
+ to the world

Now separate these desired contributions into two categories:
1) things you can at least begin to do with the resources currently at your disposal, and
2) items requiring additional resources.

As you look at the lists, see what excites you the most in each. Write each of them down, leaving space to brainstorm and record ideas of how to begin making that contribution as soon as possible. This is another bridge into retirement that gives you purpose and enjoyment. Think of the joy and satisfaction to be gained from your contributions in areas that you feel strongly about. This is a powerful means of transforming your retirement into a time of giving and satisfaction.

As time goes on, work more with this list – thinking of creative ways to accomplish items on your list, exploring how to secure or leverage needed resources and finding others with similar interests. One of the by-products of reaching out and making a difference is meeting new people and gaining new friends.

Transforming Your Retirement: What If You Were a Person of Extreme Health, Wellness and Energy Throughout Your Retirement?

Isn’t that what we all wish for? Wishing and hoping – but also, far too often worrying and fretting and fearing that it won’t be so. In spite of increased life expectancy, we are also aware of increased incidence of certain chronic conditions as we get older. The prospect of depending on multiple prescriptions and procedures to maintain a level of health, and affording their cost is a concern for most of us.

One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to explore and implement ways to maintain a level of wellness and vitality. Wellness is defined as ”the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind especially as the result of a deliberate effort.” There are several dimensions of wellness: physical, mental, emotional, wellness of the spirit and social. Wellness then is all about making choices in support of your overall well-being. As we do this, we create a strong foundation from which we are transforming our retirement.

We are extraordinarily fortunate to live at a time when there are a variety of approaches and techniques that enable us to be healthier longer. We have access to a wide range of things that will help us maintain and enhance our health, not just help us after we are already ill. If we focus on prevention and wellness and take advantage of what’s available, we can avoid much suffering and illness in our later years.

The key concept here is that we have access to possibilities of extreme health, wellness and energy that past generations did not have. Many of them begin with having a mindset and attitude that aging can be different than the stereotypes and even from what our parents and grandparents experienced. It means going outside the traditional wisdom and resources to explore the multiple types of practices and approaches that are available.

Some of what we have access to is being adapted from Eastern health practices & medicine; other things are based on new understandings from research. You will greatly enhance your life by finding and using tools that will increase your wellness rather than worrying about and waiting to treat illness.

In addition, many alternative approaches to healing are becoming available. Some traditional medical practitioners are including some of these into their repertoires;and of course, there are alternative practitioners for each specialty.

Huge amounts of information available on energy medicine, hands-on and other forms of healing, yoga, nutritional and herbal supplements, particular diets or food choices, types of meditation, various exercise techniques, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique or tapping), Spring Forest Qigong, Reiki, various forms of massage, breathing, hypnosis, acupuncture, acupressure….the list could go on and on. I urge you to explore them so that you expand the ways in which you are a person of extreme health, wellness and energy as you are transforming your retirement into a joyous time of life!

Transforming Your Retirement: What If You Could Learn and Do Many Things That Bring You Joy?

What a wonderful opportunity the retirement years to learn and do things we never had the time for! I am always amazed when I hear people say they don’t know what they will do with their time once they are retired. Or when retired people say they are bored!

I encourage you to develop or augment your personal “Bucket List” to expand your vision of the possibilities as you are transforming your retirement. The 2008 movie “The Bucket List” with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson inspired many people; if you would like to see it again, it is available here: The Bucket List.

I recommend a 3-part Bucket list: 1) “Things I Want to Learn About” 2) “Things I Want to Learn to Do” 3) “Things I Want to Do.” You may find some overlap between them, but that’s okay.

The “learn about” list will probably have things about which you’ve been curious: the history of your town or neighborhood, your ancestors and family history, the newest knowledge about outer space, etc.

The “learn to do” list might include things like quilting, deep sea fishing, online marketing, golfing, playing an instrument, learning a language, etc.

The “do” list can include simple things like “read one book per week” or “have a home vegetable garden.” You may do something as a result of learning about or learning to do things from the other two lists. For example, you want to “learn to do excellent digital photography.” On this list you could include “take great photos on 3 continents.” Or you intend to “learn about where my grandparents came from in Norway” and on this list you will include “travel to the family homestead in Norway and meet distant relatives.”

You will think of additional items for all of the lists as the days and months pass. Be sure to write them down. Having and continuing to add to the lists is powerful as you are transforming your retirement. The next steps will begin to move the dreams into reality.

Resources/Conditions Needed. Look at your lists and separate them into 1) things you can do relatively easily, with minimum or no cost, any time you choose, and 2) things that require significant planning, effort and/or resources. If you lack something, jot down what those things are and begin thinking how to get them. It could mean purchasing something, but often you can use resources without purchase, for example by bartering. If you want to learn to do woodworking, you could sign up for a community education class, or find a woodworker who needs a paid or volunteer assistant/apprentice, or find a woodworker who will teach you in return for you teaching him/her a skill you have mastered. Think creatively!

Prioritize. Now that you have some exciting possibilities, prioritize them to get started: according to what you want to do first, second, etc. or by time periods – within 3 months, within 6 months, this year, etc.

Then take one more step and choose the one item on each list that you can and will start now. There’s great value in having some ongoing projects at the time you retire. They give you something to focus on as you transition, and later when there are empty times. This is an important piece of transforming your retirement.

Transforming Your Retirement: What if Your Positive Expectations Created a Positive Retirement?

The images, beliefs and expectations you have of this “3rd Act” of life will greatly influence the outcomes. What you expect the coming years to be is a powerful factor in determining how it will go. Expectations are both conscious and subconscious. Our conscious expectations can be sabotaged by what is firmly planted in our subconscious as we are transforming our retirement.

By identifying attitudes and beliefs that may contradict and undermine our positive expectations, we can address them. Negative expectations can come from memories, past experiences, messages in advertising, characterizations from television or movies, etc. It is very valuable to unearth some of these, and writing will help in that process.

Take 3-5 minutes to write down responses to the following questions: + What did you think when others retired? + What memories do you have of your parents’ or other relatives’ retirements and the impact on their lives? + What do people say in whispers at retirement parties? + What advice or warnings have people given you about retirement?  + What are the messages on retirement cards? + What older characters from television or movies do you recall? What image of retirement and aging do they provide?

Look at what you have written. Are they mostly positive or negative? The positive messages and images are ones to hang onto, repeat, and develop into specific intentions and plans.

Negative messages and images are pervasive beyond our conscious awareness. What you have written in just a few minutes is an indication of that. The negatives at the conscious level can be changed with your action. As you identify the negatives at the subconscious level on an ongoing basis, you can address them also.

Become hyper-aware of the negatives and resist them, whether they are within you or from external influences. Be aware of the attitudes of the people you spend time with. Be aware of what you expose yourself to in reading, listening and viewing information.

Decide how you are going to deal with the negative people in your life. Often this means figuring out ways to limit your time in close proximity of them. A direct approach is sometimes best: tell them you have decided to be positive and look for the best in everything and invite them to join you in this. Maybe they would like to live more positively and just need the opportunity..

Decide how much negative news, commentary and entertainment you want flowing into your mind and change some listening and viewing habits.

Consistently take these steps, and your attitude and expectations will help you in transforming your retirement into a joyous and fulfilling time of life.

Transforming Your Retirement: What if Gratitude Were the Overriding Tone of Your Life?

Daily Gratitude Practice
If you are not already doing this, start a daily practice of writing a Gratitude List and really monitor how it changes your attitude. It’s very simple and most effective it you use a journal (a simple notebook is fine, or a folder in your computer) rather than scattered pieces of paper. That’s because looking back over a month, or a quarter, or a year can take you to a whole new level of gratitude. And if you don’t make it easy for yourself to do it, guess what? It likely won’t be done.

Write down 5-10 things every day for which you are grateful. If you’re not used to doing this, you may start with 5 per day; expand from there to 10 as you get into the rhythm of it. They don’t have to be huge things; in fact if you get into the habit of expressing gratitude for small things, it’s even more powerful.

Include things that you are grateful about in yourself. They may be attributes or attitudes; they may be things you did or didn’t do. As you make the change from employed to retired, measures of accomplishment and self-worth inevitably change. This is a way to acknowledge yourself in this new stage of transforming your retirement.

Writing these down at the end of the day is most beneficial as you more easily remember the day. It puts you in a positive state of mind that will lead to sleep. It just wraps up the day in a lovely package.

Gratitude as a Tool for Specific Situations

What I’ve just described is a Daily Gratitude Practice. You can also use the technique any time you are facing a situation about which you are ambivalent or conflicted. For example, list all of the things for which you’re grateful related to the change from employed to retired: I can sleep as late as I choose; I can choose with whom I spend my daytime hours; I’ll save money on clothes; and so on. You will note that these are all stated as positive statements, not the lack of the negative (I don’t have to wake to an alarm at the same time every morning). This can change your feelings about a situation, or perhaps identify an aspect of it that you do want to change in some way.