Moving into retirement has been like moving into a new space. I get to choose exactly what activities I put in it, how many there are, and precisely where I put them.
The last few years have been about downsizing and a conscious choice to minimize. Only recently did I begin to apply the concept of consciously choosing each moment in my day. What do I want to allow into my day? What thoughts? What emotions? Do I want a “to do” list or can I simply let the day unfold? Beginning with nothing and adding only what I choose, there became a beautiful simplicity in the manner in which I nurture and express myself.
Return to your roots
I’ve always been a writer who loves to write about introspective philosophical awareness. However, to make my living, I became more practical. I coached entrepreneurs just starting in business and then turned to coaching people in the content development for their web sites and business. Then I retired – more accidentally than on purpose. I took my focus off my business to move cross-country to be closer to my children and to do some repair on my body. When my attention turned to my physical well-being, my business went away. What you focus on you get and I was not focusing on my business. The bottom line was that I had inadvertently cleared my plate and could thoughtfully start over. It was like having an empty room to furnish in whatever manner you choose. I had an empty day. What did I want to allow into it?
You don’t have to be productive
It bothered me for a while that I was not putting out “x” number of posts a week, or completing a certain number of books or telecourses a year. Business plans and projections and been a part of my life for many years. The sudden emptying of my days allowed me to take a deep pause. I slowly relaxed into a state of non-doing. I contemplated. I wrote introspectively. I examined how I felt. I became an explorer, a seeker of self-awareness. Only then did I begin to begin to populate this new cycle of my life with elements of my own conscious choosing.
The major quality I embrace in my current life is unfolding, allowing things to happen. That means that to plan, to set deadlines, to set a goal, is in conflict with the concept of allowing my life and circumstances to unfold. I had many habits to change. I’m still learning to trust what shows up and to response only in the moment.
Allow time for germination
There have been two steps to my retirement process – letting go and deciding what to build next. Letting go was hard. I let go of my identity as a coach. My biggest break-through came when, after much consideration and procrastination, I closed down one business blog, put all my books from the past twenty years free on the blog I nurture. It was the strongest feeling of starting over I’ve ever experienced. I no longer had anything to sell. The books of the past were available for those who needed it on their journey, and I had nothing to prove to anyone. I became a seeker and explorer, deepening my song and letting how I serve others simply unfold. It takes time to let go and it takes time to figure out what you want in your life now. Be patient with yourself.
Accept being non-productive
After fussing with myself about not working as I used to, I have realized that I am in a period of inner contemplation and change and it is not time to share that with anyone else. It is my journey, and my process of discovery. I am studying but I can absorb the philosophies I explore only in small pieces, a little every day. I continue to put subtle physical plane and spiritual choices in place that need time for their changes to become evident. Whatever productivity I am engaged in is subtle and the affects are profound. It looks like I am doing nothing but as I immerse myself in the flow of each moment. I am allowing much to unfold.
Slowly put important qualities and actions back into your day.
The activities I add back into my day are chosen with as much contemplation as picking a new item to bring into a minimalist home. What do I let go? What do I bring in? Where do I put it? When I offered my books free, I no longer had a need to promote them or to reformat them for ereaders. All of those possibilities simply ceased to exist. My plan is simple. Write posts. Complete them and publish them. There is no need to write a book, teach a course, or coach a client. I bask in my inquisitiveness, my curiosity, and my discoveries.
Build the foundation of well-being
As a person of 81, I have two areas of focus: my physical/spiritual well-being, and how I can still contribute to my world. I now have time to care for my body without the pressure and stress of family or job. I can listen to my own rhythm and monitor my own responses.
What prompted this post was the realization that I have simplified my objectives and have focused all my choices on enhancing my well-being and finding new ways to be of service to others. My choices include a plant-based diet, the Qi Gong style of Zhan Zhaung and a deepening study of the Tao. For now, that’s enough. I will try those on to establish them as steady component of my day and take time to see what results they produce. The rest of the day remains unscheduled and open to whatever shows up. I am free to write poetry that bubbles up with new awareness. An idea sparks my interest and I sit down and write it. Beginning with a clean slate of a day, what do you want to bring in that will nourish and inspire you?
Change how you contribute to the world
Figuring out how to feeling relevant is a bit trickier for me. I have to let it unfold and trust that how I am to serve will show up and I will recognize it. I write for my community newsletter and my articles reflect my contemplation and discoveries of being a senior. I am in a period of germination and am only producing a few articles for my blog like these that explore some insight I want to figure out and add to my life. I have to be content that the inner work I do now will eventually take a form that may touch the lives of others. Allowing that inner journey to unfold may take me places I have not imagined. My contribution to others could take many forms. We’ll have to see what unfolds.
Keep your inner space clear
For now, my time is flexible enough that when the idea to explore this concept of a carefully choosing the elements in your life came to me, I could stop what I was doing and sit down and write it. I’m writing my version of contemplative poetry at odd times because my life is free of clutter and pressure. I need to develop a self-aware centeredness in order to understand myself. By keeping my days simple, I have room to go exploring in whatever direction calls to me.
Can you empty the next few days of all have- to’s, should’s and want-to’s? Are you willing to wake up to a day in which you listen to your deepest self and go where it leads you? If it means reading a novel at nine in the morning, go for it. If it means a nap at eleven, or sitting in the sun at one, listen to what you body asks of you and indulge it. Identify your own natural rhythm. Empty your days enough so that you can thoughtfully decide what will nourish you. See what you want to bring into your life on a regular basis, not because you have to or should, but because you very much want to.
Clear the slate, empty your calendar, tune into what you most want to do and slowly add one element at a time back into your life until you find the perfect balance that comes from the simplicity of starting over.