Spring is definitely in the air. We’re starting to see more sunny days; temperatures are rising higher during the daytime. The clocks have moved forward and the snow is melting away. What does all this have to do with business or retirement? Perhaps nothing; perhaps a lot. The changing of the seasons is a constant reminder of the steady marching on of time. No matter what we do, where we go, or who we’re with, time doesn’t slow down, whether we want it to or not.
It feels like such a short time ago that high school was my biggest concern…not the worry of getting good grades, but of having good friends. Then university came and went…good grades were substantially harder there, but I managed to find and keep some really good friends. I guess things have a way of balancing out so you’re not stressing over too much all at the same time! That’s a really important aspect of life – balancing all the moving parts so you’re not overwhelmed.
So, how do you go about achieving that balance? Do you have to decide which activities to drop, which friends to stop seeing so often, which business ventures to ignore? Yes, actually…you have to make choices. But that doesn’t mean you have to give things up completely. You need to recognize that you can’t do all things, all the time. Sure, you can take part in a multitude of different activities, but you have to decide which you want to focus on RIGHT NOW.
What stage of retirement preparation are you in? That will help you decide what you need to focus on. If you’re nowhere near ready to retire – meaning that you’re enjoying what you’re doing and can’t imagine not continuing to do it – then your focus will be on continuing to build whatever you’ve got underway. If you’ve determined that you’re ready to move to the next stage, then you’ve got to start to turn your focus to cleaning up and winding down your current work activities (unless what you do is something you can simply walk away from). If you’re already retired, then your focus can start to expand again: what do you want to be involved in, now that you’re free to choose? Maybe you should make a list and still focus on one or two activities at a time, but your path is wide open now.
There are a few questions to ask yourself as you’re getting ready to retire. They’re important questions because they’re going to determine whether you’ve set the stage properly. But it’s not just a matter of knowing what questions to ask. You also need to be comfortable with the answers to the questions, or you’re going to find yourself unhappy. Let’s not go into this great stage of life unhappy!
Ask yourself this: Am I ready for the next step?
If you hesitate before you answer, or if you’re not sure what to say, then YOU’RE NOT READY. It’s a pretty simple test. If you’re ready, you’ll know it. Even if you don’t have all the steps worked out yet, if it’s time for you to move on from whatever it is you’re doing, you’ll know it. Your answer will be some version of “Bring It On!”
If that’s not your answer… if your answer is “I’m not sure” or maybe even “Ready?! I’m hardly even started getting ready!” that’s okay too. Everyone gets there on their own schedule. You don’t have to retire when the calendar says you’re at a certain age. You don’t have to retire when your boss tells you to. You may have to leave whatever it is you’re doing at some point, but retirement – the time when you get to decide where and when and how much you work – is YOUR decision.
So make it wisely.
Many people are counting on their calendars, making little comments about it being “almsost time.” That doesn’t mean they’re ready. You’ll know – and so will they – whent the time is right, because a new leaf will find them, bringing with it promises of new days and new adventures. When that excites you (more than the idea of leaving your current work does) it’s time to go.
So take a moment today and look around you as you walk down the street. What new leaves do you see? What excites you today? Tell me about it below.