Erickson Advisors - Linda Erickson - HeadshotLinda P. Erickson

Linda P. Erickson, CFP®, is the president of Erickson Advisors and a registered principal offering securities through Cetera Advisor Networks, LLC, 336-274-9403

What is Retirement after all? Let me suggest it is a gateway to a new and reinvented version of “You.” Indeed, any major life change – a move to a new city, job or career change, loss of a partner or spouse – gives an opportunity to stop, reflect, assess and grab your passion.

I always told my children that they should pursue what interested them the most. Why? Because I knew they would excel at activities they loved. And, in the end, isn’t that what you might call a great life: getting up every day with enthusiasm and purpose to do what you love? If you can turn that passion into a source of income, that’s icing on the cake.

Of course, you have to have some idea of what that passion might be. Often it’s not what you think. Many coaching programs today focus on the process of revealing or discovering what your personal motivating purpose, goal, interest, satisfaction and inner driver might be.

Here is a short list of questions to answer. Be thoughtful, and write down your answers. Ideas take shape on a page (or for younger readers – on a screen).

  • What has been your proudest moment? Why?
  • Write a short obituary of yourself, your accomplishments to date and what you would like to be able to say.
  • What big ideas/causes are important to you? Why?
  • Who do you admire the most? If you could work with anyone in the world, who would that be? Why?
  • How have you most enjoyed your leisure time and why? Has leisure activity been more about the activity or the people with whom you play, volunteer, or talk with?

While I acknowledge that any life transition comes with some anxiety, maybe even fear, I’m suggesting that surrounding that anxiety with a positive goal, informed by a real understanding of your strengths, will help launch the next phase in your life. Take your answers to these questions (don’t skip the “why” part) and see a picture emerge, a picture of who you really are, where your interests lie, and what you really want to do with the next part of your life.

Retirement is a life transition that can be particularly disquieting or can be a new window of opportunity. For many, not being able to say “where you work” is the same as saying “I no longer have meaning.” Transitioning into an avocation, a volunteer commitment, more time for a loved hobby, or tackling a new and exciting activity in retirement will offer you the ability to say, “I am working on the most amazing project!” Try it out.

Not everyone moves into retirement with a sense of financial security. Whether financial concerns intrude on this exercise or not I recommend this thought challenge to anyone with an opportunity to turn a challenging life transition into a powerful personal expansion project. Grab the force within you!