For over three years, Brian, a retired engineer, has been saying that he’s “figuring out retirement”—that he’s "working on it.” I see lots of “Brians” in my retirement consulting. They sincerely want to create meaning and direction in this next stage of life. The problem is they don’t have the tools to “work on it.” It’s hard to solve a problem when you don’t have a formula.
As an organizational psychologist, I often look to business theories and practices to solve retirement problems. I take the best of work and use it to create the best in retirement. So for Brian, and others like him, I recommend developing short-term learning goals.
Short-term learning goals are related to the Lean Startup methodology—a scientific approach developed by Eric Ries to create and manage a startup business. One of the principles of this model is don’t assume you know what the customer wants. Instead, create a minimum viable product and then test your assumptions by creating experiments, short term learning goals, to validate or negate these beliefs.
Let’s apply this to retirement. But before we do, foremost, you need to want to create a better retirement, just as an entrepreneur has the fire in his belly to create a new product or service. Now it’s time to start working on retirement.
Ask yourself, “If anything is possible, how would I like to live in retirement?” Your vision of a better retirement begins with noticing and appreciating what you love and value about your life, just the way it is right now. Write down what’s working, and what you want to continue and leverage. Then build on this foundation by considering the key issues and challenges you’re facing. Write these down.
Next, what emerging opportunities excite you? What can you do now to explore these possibilities? Make a phone call. Send an email. Meet up for lunch. Hofffman and Casnocha, authors of The Start Up of You, remind us, “Whatever the situation, actions, not plans, generate lessons that help you test your hypotheses against reality. Actions help you discover where you want to go and how to get there.”
What seems impossible but would be super cool if it were possible? Let your mind go crazy. Limiting beliefs and assumptions are going to get in the way. Clear these out by writing them down. Keep a running list. Then one by one create an experiment to test each assumption.
For example, maybe you never had time to coach your son’s Little League team when you were working long hours. You notice as you drive by the baseball field that you’re missing those days when you had a reason to be at the field. Now you have time to coach, but you assume the commitment will limit your freedom, or that you’re not qualified, or that only coaches who can commit to being at every practice and game are needed.
List your assumptions and then test them. Speak to someone who’s currently coaching. Ask if assistant coaches are needed. Offer to help with practices. Each step you take is an experiment that will show you what’s possible. Maybe you’ll realize that coaching is not what you want to do. That’s okay. On to another possibility and experiment. After all, you’re working on retirement.
Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.